The red dwarf Gliese 581, one of our own solar system’s closest neighboring stars and a regular point of exoplanetary interest, can finally claim the title of owning the first confirmed potentially-habitable expolanet. French researchers running complex computer models have demonstrated that the planet Gliese 581d--once thought too cold to sustain life--indeed could possess the proper ingredients to sustain liquid water and an atmosphere.
Gliese 581 and its “Goldilocks zone”--the orbiting range wherein habitable planets are neither too close nor too far from their star to support life--have received a good deal of attention since the first of three planets thought to be orbiting there was discovered in 2007. One was 581d, the other 581c. Gliese 581d was originally deemed to close to the outer edge of the zone (read: cold) to support life, but hopes ran high for 581c until a later analysis proved it too close--temperatures on the planet are likely akin to those on Venus, where any liquid water would boil off immediately.