Distant rocky planet "could be future human home"
2011-05-18 0:00

By L.Calcada | YahooNews.ca / AFP



A rocky world orbiting a nearby star has been confirmed as the first planet outside our solar system to meet key requirements for sustaining life, scientists said on Monday.

Modelling of planet Gliese 581d shows it has the potential to be warm and wet enough to nurture Earth-like life, they said.

It orbits a red dwarf star called Gliese 581, located around 20 light years from Earth, which makes it one of our closest neighbours.

Gliese 581d orbits on the outer fringes of the star’s "Goldilocks zone", where it is not so hot that water boils away, nor so cold that water is perpetually frozen. Instead, the temperature is just right for water to exist in liquid form.

"With a dense carbon dioxide atmosphere -- a likely scenario on such a large planet -- the climate of Gliese 581d is not only stable against collapse but warm enough to have oceans, clouds and rainfall," France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) said in a press release.

More than 500 planets orbiting other stars have been recorded since 1995, detected mostly by a tiny wobble in stellar light.

Exoplanets are named after their star and listed alphabetically, in order of discovery.
Until now, the big interest in Gliese 581’s roster of planets focussed on Gliese 581g.

It leapt into the headlines last year as "Zarmina’s World," after its observers announced it had roughly the same mass as Earth’s and was also close to the Goldilocks zone.

But that discovery has since been discounted by many. Indeed, some experts suspect that the Gliese 581g may not even exist but was simply a hiccup in starlight.

Its big brother, Gliese 581d, has a mass at least seven times that of Earth and is about twice our planet’s size, according to the new study, which appears in a British publication, The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The planet, spotted in 2007, had initially been dismissed as a candidate in the hunt for life.
It receives less than a third of the solar radiation Earth gets, and may be "tidally locked", meaning that one side of it always faces the sun, which would give it permanent dayside and nightside.

But the new model, devised by CNRS climate scientists Robin Wordsworth, Francois Forget and colleagues, showed surprising potential.
Its atmosphere would store heat well, thanks to its dense CO2, a greenhouse gas. And the red light from the star would also penetrate the atmosphere and warm the surface.

"In all cases, the temperatures allow for the presence of liquid water on the surface," say the researchers.

For budding travellers, though, Gliese 581d would "still be a pretty strange place to visit," the CNRS said.

"The denser air and thick clouds would keep the surface in a perpetual murky red twilight, and its large mass means that surface gravity would be around double that on Earth."

Getting to the planet would still require a sci-fi breakthrough in travel for earthlings.

A spaceship travelling close to light speed would take more than 20 years to get there, while our present rocket technology would take 300,000 years.

Article from: ca.news.yahoo.com
Image: Artist Impression, European Southern Observatory (ESO)




Space Fan News #22: The Habitability of Gliese 581d

Video from: YouTube.com



Video from: YouTube.com





Related Articles
Space Fan News #22: The Habitability of Gliese 581d (Video)
Earth-like planet ’may not exist’: Goldilocks just a fairytale?
Could ’Goldilocks’ planet be just right for life?
Mysterious Light Pulse From Planet Gliese 581g - Alien Signal?
A Million Questions About Habitable Planet Gliese 581g
Planetary Alignment Watch for 11-12 May 2011 (Video)
Life could thrive on planets with two suns, but the plants would be black
Huge New Planet (Brown Dwarf?) Discovered in Our Solar System - Tyche Echoes of Planet X or "Nibiru"


Latest News from our Front Page

Kanye West says in his VMA 2015 speech that he's running for president in 2020
2015-09-01 0:15
'And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president.' Kanye West received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at tonight's MTV Video Music Awards, and he closed his acceptance speech by announcing he's running for president in 2020. Yes, really! The segment started with a bang when West was handed his ...
White students in Australia rejecting "multicultural" agenda, this is a problem apparently
2015-09-01 0:03
According to Dr Christina Ho from Sydney’s University of Technology, White Students have not obeyed the command to become “multicultural”. White Students have very rarely mixed with non-White groups, and Dr Ho thinks that this is a problem which must be solved. “Schools are becoming more segregated in terms of both class and ethnicity,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald. “More and more ...
Sweden: The De-balling of the Vikings
2015-08-31 23:03
For some reason, the deliberately-injected moral and mental cancer known as 'liberalism', aka 'progressivism' has always seemed to metastasize faster in the Nordic countries, particularly Scandinavian ones. This phenomenon is also observable among the American descendants of Scandinavian immigrants in places like Minnesota and Wisconsin. The hypothesis of this reporter is that the innate, perhaps even genetic, altruism and human ...
New Monsanto Spray Kills Bugs by Messing With Their Genes
2015-08-31 22:49
In a fascinating long piece in MIT Technology Review, Antonio Regalado examines the genetically modified seed industry's latest blockbuster app in development—one that has nothing to do with seeds. Instead, it involves the industry's other bread-and-butter product: pesticide sprays. But we're not talking about the poisonous chemicals you convinced your dad to stop dousing the lawn with. The novel sprays ...
Obama to speak with Jewish groups on Iran deal
2015-08-31 22:16
President Barack Obama is using a Friday webcast to try to allay concerns from Jewish communities about the nuclear agreement with Iran. Obama will deliver remarks about the agreement and take questions from participants. The webcast is being organized by two major Jewish organizations that have held similar events with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. The Israeli ...
More News »