January
2001 
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ASTRONOMERS DISCOVER STRONG EVIDENCE FOR ALIEN LIFE
SOURCE: Diario "La Nacion" (Argentina)
DATE: January 7, 2001
**A star system only 75 light years away**

a. Two planets would have sizes similar to Earth
b. There could be water.
c. But temperature variations would allow for life very
    different from our own
 

LONDON.- Astronomers found the strongest evidence yet for alien
life in a solar system having characteristics similar to our
own. The discovery was made by SETI scientists working with NASA
and Britain's Jodrell Bank observatory, searching for life
beyond known boundaries.

Observations indicate that the star system, known as CM
Draconis, has two planets in the so-called "life belt",
sufficiently close for water to exist in liquid form, which
could suppose the presence of life. Instruments were employed
close to their design limits  when the observations were made,
thus, the discoveries have been treated with great caution.

Further details shall be provided during the annual meeting of
the American Astronomical Association to be held this week in
San Diego, California. If there were life in any of the planets
of the CM Draconis system, it would be subject to conditions
very different from those on Earth. At the system's center would
be two small red stars (colder than the sun) oscilating around
each other while the planets orbit both. A binary system such as
this one experiences constant variations in the duration of
night and day, and complex seasonal and meteorological
structures.

Laurance Doyle, the SETI researcher conducting the study, said
that the exact measurements of the candidate worlds are
uncertain, but that their diameters would be larger than Earth
(17,000 km versus 12,000 km) and some 9 times smaller than
Jupiter. Doyle also discovered a third Jovian-sized planet
orbiting beyond the other two. This is significant, as these
giant worlds, through their gravitation, would attract the
asteroids and meteorites which could otherwise crash into the
smaller planets. Jupiter may have played a similar role in our
own star system.

Doyle measured the light in a decreasing manner from the CM
Draconis stars, while its planets passed between them and Earth.
These stars are some 57 light years away from us. Similar
techniques have been employed in detecting more than 50 planets
orbiting other stars.

Professor Jill Tarter, SETI's director, stated that Doyle's work
represents powerful evidence of the existence of Earthlike
planets. "These are promising results," she said. "There might
be life, there might be none, but at least  we can see our work
is worthwhile."
 
 
 
 

January  2001 
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