Some light reflected off a planet, and into deep space to face eventual interception by a more or less intelligent life form on another world. Ours.
If the newly discovered globe of Gliese 581C circled the sun instead of a Spectral Type M star 20 light years away in the constellation Libra , it would be toast. But Gliese 581 is only half as hot as the sun, 3,000 versus 6,000 Kelvins, so its radiant energy peaks in the near infrared. This leaves the 12,000 mile diameter planet circling just six million miles distant from the diminutive red star basking in sunlight of Earthly intensity, and endowing its surface with temperatures that are nothing less than temperate, some 30 to 100 Fahrenheit.
In short, the solar system has a habitable neighbor.
The discovery was made decades ago by Gliese 581C standards-- its year is only 13 earth days long.
That was this spring here in Cambridge, and fall to the European Southern Observatory team who added it to the stars first two planets using a telescope at La Silla Chile.
However you reckon the discovery's timing, they
"wouldn't be surprised if there is life on
says Stephane Udry, a project astronomer based at the
Geneva Observatory in Switzerland" according to Britain's Guardian.
Though it's not cold outside, whether there's no kind of atmosphere on the third rock from the distant red dwarf remains unknown. But location is everything --it's never too early for realtors to join the campaign to expedite space telescope development.
or for those confidently predicting a technological singularity leading to near-immortality to give themselves something to do in their extended prime of life . The sooner we dispatch a slow robotic space probe in Gleise 581's direction, accelerating all the way, the earlier it might return news of a fit destination for future human exploration.