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Type the name "Gliese 581 d" into a search engine, and you'll find hundreds of tantalising images of an Earth-like world. The exoplanet has been a top contender for the most life-friendly world beyond our solar system since it was discovered in 2007. There's just one problem – it probably doesn't exist.

New analysis of the Gliese 581 star system suggests that signals previously attributed to two of its six suspected planets actually come from sunspot-like regions on the star itself. The same analysis builds support that three of the other four planets are real, but none of these worlds would be able to support life as we know it.

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