Posted: Sep 16, 2009 8:01 AM by Associated Press
Astronomers have found more than 300 planets outside our solar system but none of them have been proven to be solid until now.
A team of European astronomers has confirmed that a planet discovered earlier this year about 500 light years away is more than a big gas ball. One of the scientists describes it "as close to something like the Earth" that's been found so far.
Scientists have long figured that for life to begin on a planet, it needs a solid surface to rest on. So, experts outside the team say finding such a planet is a big deal. The trouble with Corot-7b, however, is it's pretty hot. The astronomers say it orbits so close to its sun that the surface temperature is more than 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit. That's too hot to sustain life.
The find is being published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics and presented at a conference on finding an Earth-like planet being held in Spain.