As I told you a couple weeks ago, Gliese 581g, planet of dreams, comes with a lot of uncertainty. It may, or may not, be habitable. It may, or may not, contain life.
And now, it may, or may not, exist.
Steven Vogt and his colleagues based the discovery of Gliese 581g on data taken from both their own research at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii and previously published data collected by the Geneva-based High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) team at an observatory in Chile. And, you'll recall, Vogt spent a surprising chunk of the peer-reviewed paper arguing for better teamwork and more cordial relations between his group and the Europeans.
But, this week, HARPS researchers told the International Astronomical Union that their newer, more accurate, and so-far unpublished data doesn't confirm Gliese 581g's existence.
Let's get ready for a (generally polite, conducted in peer-reviewed papers) science rumble! This doesn't mean Gliese 581g absolutely isn't there. The answer won't shake out until HARPS actually publishes their new data and independent researchers get a chance to compare both sides. But it does look like Vogt and company won't be singing "Kumbaya" with the Geneva team anytime soon.
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Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.