Scientists have another potential planet for the inter-gallactic tourist. Gliese 581d has shown great promise as a planet that could support life. Found in the “Goldilocks zone” where the temperature allows water to remain in a liquid state, Gliese 581d has a profile that is “just right” for life.
The only problem with your Gliese 581d vacation is that it is 20 light years from Earth. While that would take 300,000 years to get to, it is still considered one of our closest livable planets.
The key to the planet’s compelling profile is its atmosphere of dense carbon dioxide.
The French report is a big boost for Gliese 581d, which has spent years in the shadow of Gliese 581g. Gliese 581g was identified as roughly Earth-like in size but now some scientists believe it may not actually exist.
Gliese 581d has a mass at least seven times that of Earth and is about twice our size. It also brings a new meaning to “location, location, location” in the selection of your Gliese 581d home. One side of the planet is in permanent darkness. On the other side, you are warmed by the red light from a dwarf star. The dim light means the planet receives just 30% of the intensity of sunlight on Earth. However, an atmospheric greenhouse effect significantly raises planetary temperatures and may allow water to remain in liquid form.
Of okay, dim red light mornings on a greenhouse planet may not be attractive to you but it is pretty exciting to scientists . . . and it is still better than Washington in the summer.
8 thoughts on “Meet Gliese 581d”
I know a few Teapublicans who seemed to be locked in the Goldilocks zone!
These planets we’ll never get to are wonderful scientific fare, but as frontiers for human settlement, they remind me of Nabokov’s unfinished “Original of Laura.” It’s OK, but not the real thing compared to his great novels. But at least it’s SOMETHING.
These planets are little more than megrims, 9 parts imagination, 1 part data. “But I can dream, can’t I?”
good thing it is so far away or we’d be all over it making a disaster area like Earth out of it. Hopefully the next species to rise on this rock will be smarter.
Planets such as these are likely to be quite common, as they orbit the most common type of star: a red dwarf. The trouble is, to get into the Goldilocks zone around a red dwarf usually means the body at hand must orbit so close to the star, tidal forces lock one face of the plant toward the star, and the other toward space, as is the case with our own moon. No day/night cycle, unless the system contains another star.
Consistent unequal heating will cause the winds to blow long and hard. It is thought colonies might form along the terminator between a ruddy red sun and the dark. The light alone provides the alien experience.
I cannot wait.
“…’Just right’ for life,” may be better phrased as “‘just right’ for life like what we’ve got here.” We’re not really sure what life looks like in others places in the universe.
It is about as accessible as Washington is too.
With our current technology it would take “352,957.27 years” to get there (one way).
Lovely Planet In the Neighborhood?
“and it is still better than Washington in the summer.”
Hopefully it smells better….
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