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Potentially Habitable Alien World May Not Even Be A Real Planet

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Planetary system around the red dwarf, Gliese 581, is pictured in this artist's impression. The illustration shows what astronomers once thought to be the most earth-like planet found outside our solar system. Image supplied by the ESO (European Southern Observatory) on April 25, 2007.
Planetary system around the red dwarf, Gliese 581, is pictured in this artist's impression. The illustration shows what astronomers once thought to be the most earth-like planet found outside our solar system. Image supplied by the ESO (European Southern Observatory) on April 25, 2007.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study says a planet outside our solar system thought to be in the so-called Goldilocks zone is not even a real planet, but a cosmic masquerade.

Four years ago, scientists proclaimed they found what could be the first planet outside our solar system in the habitable zone around its star — not too hot and not too cold for life. Now, other researchers have shown that what was found, Gliese 581 g, wasn't a planet.

Pennsylvania State University astronomer Paul Robertson said in a study published Thursday by the journal Science that what astronomers thought were two planets there turned out to be just magnetic outbursts from the local star. Three outside experts agreed.

There are still about 20 other planets in the habitable Goldilocks zone.

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