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First so-called Goldilocks zone planet not a real planet, study finds

Artist rendering shows what astronomers thought was a planet that is in the Goldilocks zone.

Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation/Associated Press

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.

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

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