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Researchers ‘Confident’ That Another Habitable Planet Exists

posted: 03/09/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
GJ 581d, the hotly contested planet.
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An artist's representation of GJ 581d.
Queen Mary University of London

Astronomers are firing back after detractors attempted to debunk the existence of GJ 581d, a nearby Earth-like planet. The planet's 2007 discovery was widely discounted in 2014 after a report from Penn State questioned the original methods used to identify the planet.

In a recently published paper, lead researcher Dr. Guillem Anglada-Escude of Queen Mary University of London claims Penn State's statement was premature. "If their way to treat the data had been right, then some planet search projects at several ground-based observatories would need to be significantly revised," he said.

Researchers used a spectrometer, which measures variations in the wavelengths of light emitted by stars, to locate GJ 581d. However, critics of the research claimed that the spectrometer readings were not strong enough to indicate the presence of a planet.

After a thorough re-examination of data, researchers at Queen Mary University of London and University of Hertfordshire are convinced that GJ 581d does indeed exist and that the Penn State report was based on flawed research.

"There are always discussions among scientists about the ways we interpret data but I'm confident that GJ 581d has been in orbit around Gliese 581 all along," continued Anglada-Escude.

Click here to read the full story from Queen Mary University of London.

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