Tags

Related Posts

Share This

Scary Science: Discovering a Life Supporting Planet

As we have seen before, researchers are scouring the galaxy to find the perfect planet that supports life. With so many rocky spheres floating around there is bound to be one, but scientists still haven’t had any luck; until now that is.
The planetary system around the red dwarf Gliese 581 has been under scientist’s eyes since 2007. Gliese is a red dwarf star in our galaxy that is very similar to our own sun. Around it is a planetary system with a few rocky planets floating just inside the habitable zone, or the sweet spot.  Gliese 581D has caught the attention of Robin Wordsworth and his colleagues at the Institute Pierre Simon Laplace in Paris.
Gliese 581D is about 7 times that of earths mass and they are estimating that it is 2 times larger. At first glance Gliese 581D was a terrible candidate, it was too large and too far from its sun. They assumed that it was tidally locked.  Upon further investigation, they discovered that Gliese 581D had a dense carbon dioxide atmosphere, which debunked their previous hypothesis that it would have a dense atmosphere that wouldn’t be able to support climate. Gliese 581D however would have a stable atmosphere, rainfall, and tides because of the rich Carbon Dioxide atmosphere and since Gliese 581 is a red star, it would be able to penetrate the atmosphere and keep the planet at a comfortable temperature to support life.  Using a computer program to simulate a 3d look on how the planet would fare in space, they discovered shocking facts about Gliese 581D that makes scientist hopeful.
Although they wouldn’t be able to get there now, because Gliese 581D is 20 light years away, they do know that future telescopes will be able to monitor Gliese 581D’s atmosphere from Earth.  The most precious piece of information that Wordsworth and his team discovered is that life in space will not need to be exactly like earth, but that can only be discovered in the future. If life does exist on Gliese 581D or even if it is habitable, it would still be very different from earth. The atmosphere, the scenery, and just about everything down to the gravity would be incredibly different.
This discovery is sending scientists into a frenzy yet again, and everyone is rushing to see what they can uncover from our closest neighbor. If life exists on Gliese 581D then we can expect scientists to find a way to communicate, if it doesn’t we might see people trying to discover ways to colonize it. Only the future can tell.