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11/21/12

Alien Planets We Can Love


Wouldn't it be great if we could actually travel to other habitable planets? One of the reasons I like to read and also write science fiction is this amazing possibility. So as promised in my last post on rogue planets, here is the low down astronomers are finding out now. The Kepler space telescope actually hunts for planets and it has enabled scientists to see much farther than ever before. Here's the scoop:

The Top 5 Potentially Habitable Alien Planets

Astronomers have found more than 700 planets beyond our solar system, and thousands more await confirmation by follow-up observations. Many of these alien worlds are too hot or too cold to support life as we know it, but researchers have found a few that appear to be much more hospitable. Here's a brief rundown of the PHL's best candidates:

1. Gliese 581g, this rocky world has been controversial with some researchers casting doubt on its existence and its discoverers remaining firmly behind their find. This planet, which is located just 20 light-years away, is likely two to three times as massive as Earth and zips around its parent star every 30 days or so. This orbit places the planet squarely in its star's "habitable zone" — that just-right range of distances where liquid water, and perhaps life as we know it, could exist.

2. Gliese 667CcG, which orbits a red dwarf 22 light-years away, in the constellation Scorpius. The alien world is a so-called "super Earth" that's at least 4.5 times as massive as our planet, and it completes an orbit every 28 days. At least one other planet circles the star with Gliese 667C, which is part of a triple-star system.

3. Kepler-22b was spotted by NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope in December 2011. It's a super Earth about 2.4 times as wide as our planet. If the greenhouse effect operates on Kepler-22b like it does on Earth, the alien world would have an average surface temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius), researchers have said. Kepler-22b is found about 600 light-years away, and it orbits a star very much like our own sun

4. HD 85512bHD 85512b is another super Earth, one that's thought to be 3.6 times as massive as our planet. The alien world is found about 35 light-years from us, in the direction of the constellation Vela (The Sail). Astronomers announced the discovery of HD 85512b in September 2011. The planet's estimated surface temperature is 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius

5. Gliese 581d, This world, which is about seven times as massive as Earth, orbits a bit farther out than its planetary sibling Gliese 581g. When 581d was first discovered, many scientists regarded it as too cold to be potentially habitable. In the years since, however, atmospheric-modeling studies have suggested that the planet may indeed be able to support life as we know it — provided 581d is warmed by a greenhouse effect.

So there you have it. It is exciting to me to know about all this discovery and space research that is taking place right now. What do you think? How do you feel about fining potential planets that could harbor life, even intelligent life, and maybe life as we know it.

Kaye

3 comments:

Greta said...

Like you, I find the search for 'another Earth' exciting and wonderful. That we have found so many earthlike planets so quickly bears testament to the fact that there must be lots out there.

But. In all the cases you've mentioned, the planetary mass is far greater than earth's. Humans like us would have trouble (at the very least) functioning properly in such gravity. This doesn't mean these planets would not support life. It's a good prospect they might have done so - life very different from us. Even if it's not technologically advanced.

I love this stuff. I'll stop now, before I write 3 pages :)

Kaye Manro said...

Hi Greta, glad you stopped by to lend your ideas. And I wouldn't mind if you did write three pages on this or other space topics! Thanks for your wonderful insight.

It is true what you say about humans not being able to exist on large massive planets such as the ones here. Maybe there could be beings that can exist there. Or possibly humans of the future will be able to live in domed cities. Sounds like an interesting idea anyway.

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