In 2010, some scientists claimed to have discovered a non-too-distant, rocky Goldilocks planet. At the time, many thought that it was a proof that our Earth is not the only planet that has suitable conditions for life as we know it. But latest findings by two Pennsylvania State University scientists reveal that the Goldilocks planet is just an illusion.
What’s a Goldilocks planet?
The Goldilocks planet was believed to revolve around a faint dwarf star Gliese 581, which is about 20 light years away from Earth. The Pennsylvania State University scientists Suvrath Mahadevan and Paul Robertson have been developing a new technique to confirm the existence of distant, small planets. They used the same technique to find out the existence of the Goldilocks planet. They found that physical changes within the star Gliese 581 caused the illusion of the orbiting Goldilocks planet.
Mahadevan and Robertson found that another planet, which was believed to be much larger and potentially habitable, also doesn’t exist. However, there are three other planets in the planetary system of Gliese 581. But none of them is in the habitable zone. A Goldilocks planet is the one that is at a suitable distance from its sun to allow the presence of liquid water. Suvrath Mahadevan said that he is glad their technique works, and they have disproved two planets that were believed to be habitable.
The myth of Goldilocks planet busted
Steven S. Vogt of the Lick Observatory at the University of California and R. Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution in Washington were the scientists who first reported the existence of the Goldilocks planet in September 2010. They reported in the Astrophysical Journal that they had found a planet, which had the right balance of mass and temperature to host an atmosphere and liquid water. They claimed the planet Gliese 581G was about four times larger than Earth.
The bigger planet was named Gliese 581D. But many other researchers have questioned the planet’s existence. Anyway, scientists have found 22 other planets outside out solar system that could be habitable.