Interesting Reading…

Oddly enough, on telescope deadline day, a lot of interesting papers have a habit of turning up on arxiv.org, as people try and drum up interest in their proposals.

This in particular caught my eye:


http://arxiv.org/abs/1009.5733

Basically, the authors are claiming the discovery of a 3.2 Earth-mass planet, orbiting inside the habitable zone of the star Gliese 581. If substantiated, this object would be the current best candidate outside of our solar system for a ‘habitable’ planet. (Although I dare say, at 3 Earth masses the surface gravity would probably be a bit high for human beings…) Now, I haven’t had a chance yet to read the paper thoroughly, so I’m not going to comment as to whether I buy it or not, but it’s certainly interesting.

In addition, there’s also another paper on one of the other planets in the Gliese 581 system (planet d, as it happens). This object is sort-of around the outer fringes of the system’s habitable zone, so depending on its atmosphere it may or may not be warm enough for liquid water. This paper is looking at the impact its atmosphere may have on this situation.

This is all ahead of the flood we can expect next year, when the 400 or so held-back Kepler objects go public. Interesting times…

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4 Responses to “Interesting Reading…”

  1. I think there’s definitely a painting, or two, or three… :-D, in this. Just trying to imagine what it would be like to stand on the surface of this planet with such a different parent star. Very exciting 🙂

    • It’s an interesting piece of news. (I’ve been through the paper now, and yes, I believe them!) Also it’s a very weird system, when you realise that all of the seven planets’ orbits would fit inside the orbit of the Earth in ours. (In fact, six of them would fit inside the orbit of Venus.) Twenty years ago, no-one would have believed that a configuration like that would be stable, let alone real!

  2. That must result in most of these planets having very busy skies. The other planets will just be so much more visible. On the inner most planet the night sky must be filled with the other planets and not that dark, depending on their orbital periods. During the daytime, a huge, dark “sun”, the other planets visible, and I bet that it would be possible to see stars as well.

    Nature is always weirder than anything we can imagine 🙂

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