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Earth-like planet is discovered 15 light-years away

Astronomers have discovered a planet orbiting a star about 15 light-years away that more resembles Earth than any other planet detected outside the solar system, the National Science Foundation announced yesterday. The planet orbits the star Gliese 876 about every 1.9 days and has a mass of about six to eight times that of Earth, Geoffrey Marcy of the University of California at Berkeley said in a briefing with reporters from Arlington, Va., broadcast live over the Internet. Planets outside Earth's solar system are difficult to find because light from parent stars blocks observations, and astronomers have had to use special techniques to detect the presence of these so-called extrasolar planets. About 155 extrasolar planets have been found since 1995. Most are composed mostly of gas like Jupiter and Saturn. The newly found planet has surface temperatures of 400 degrees to 700 degrees, so astronomers said it's unlikely to support life.


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