foxnews - The recent discovery of Gliese 581g, an alien planet in the habitable zone of another star, has been an exciting development for scientists probing the galaxy for signs of extraterrestrial life. At least one claim of a possible signal from the planet has already surfaced – and been met with harsh skepticism among the science community.
Following the Sept. 29 announcement of the discovery of Gliese 581g, astronomer Ragbir Bhathal, a scientist at the University of Western Sydney, claimed to have detected a suspicious pulse of light nearly two years ago, that came from the same area of the galaxy as the location of Gliese 581g, according to the U.K.'s Daily Mail online.
Bhathal is a member of the Australian chapter of SETI, a non-profit scientific organization that is dedicated to research, exploration and education in the field of astrobiology.
"Whenever there's a clear night, I go up to the observatory and do a run on some of the celestial objects," Bhathal told the Daily Mail. "Looking at one of these objects, we found this signal. We found this very sharp signal, sort of a laser lookalike thing which is the sort of thing we're looking for – a very sharp spike. And that is what we found."
Still, there are some scientists who are skeptical of Bhathal's assertion.
"I know the scientist, and when he first announced it, I asked him for the details, and he wouldn't send them to me," astronomer and SETI pioneer Frank Drake told SPACE.com. "I'm very suspicious."
Drake is credited with conducting the first search for signals from extraterrestrial intelligences 50 years ago as part of what was then called Project Ozma. He coined the famed Drake Equation to calculate the number (N) of alien civilizations with whom we might be able to communicate.
Further study would perhaps confirm or deny the supposed observation, but Drake thinks that the claim is likely a dubious one.
Strange signal, or phantom?
Bhathal claimed to have detected the puzzling signal in Dec. 2008, almost two years before researchers announced the Gliese 581g finding, and long before it was announced that habitable planets were found orbiting the star Gliese 581 itself.
"I'm not aware of the location that was claimed for the source of that light, and [Bhathal] refused to tell me where it came from," Drake said. "I think it's very unlikely that it came from the direction of Gliese 581."
Gliese 581g is one of two new worlds that was discovered orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 581, which is located about 20.5 light-years from Earth. In total, there is a family of six planets that has been found around Gliese 581. [Tour the six Gliese 581 planets.]
Steven Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, and his colleague Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington announced the Gliese 581g finding in a press conference held by the National Science Foundation on Sept. 29.
About Gliese 581g
While there are six planets known to orbit around the parent star, Gliese 581g is the only one in the so-called habitable zone – a region where liquid water can exist. Astronomers have long-thought that the presence of liquid water, which accompanies life on Earth, could be a major ingredient for life on other worlds.
Observations have shown that Gliese 581g is between three and four times the mass of Earth. While it is larger than our planet, it is still classified as a nearly Earth-sized world. Its radius is between 1.3 and two times the size of Earth, scientists have said.
The planet has not been officially named yet (nor have any other worlds in the Gliese 581 system). But Vogt has given it the nickname "Zarmina's World," in honor of his wife.
Gliese 581g: The New Earth?
dotsperiod – Earth’s population is growing exponentially each year. Time will come that our resources will become scarce for everyone. Earth is so far the only planet in the universe which can support life.
For the longest time, scientists have been exploring the universe to discover a new planet which can support life. NASA sent several satellites in order to capture images of nearby planets for their research. One of the most studied planet is the red planet known as Mars because of the possible presence of water. However, based on studies, the discovery of lack of a magnetosphere and its extremely thin atmosphere pose great challenge to life’s sustainability in Mars.
A recent study conducted by a team of planet hunters from the University of California (UC) Santa Cruz, and the Carnegie Institution of Washington led to the discovery of a new planet using the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. Accordingly, the new findings are based on 11 years of observations of the nearby red dwarf star Gliese 581. Gliese 581 is located 20 light years away from Earth in the constellation Libra.
The new planet discovered is located in the Gliese 581 star system, in the so-called “Goldilocks zone” or an area where planets can can support liquid water on their surface. Hence the new planet discovered this year 2010 was named “Gliese 581g” or the “Goldilocks Planet”. Reportedly, this new planet discovered has a mass of three to four times that of Earth and orbits its star in just under 37 days.
There’s one more interesting fact about this newly discovered planet called Gliese 581g. Since it is tidally locked to the Gliese 581 dwarf star, one side of the planet is always facing the star and is in perpetual daylight, while the side facing away from the star is in perpetual darkness.