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MissA's avatar

New planet discovered with potential for life...are you ready? Do you want to go?

Asked by MissA (7391points) September 30th, 2010

“Astronomers have discovered a new, Earthlike planet that may have the potential to support plants and animals, reports the AP. “This is the most Goldilocks planet yet found,” said co-discoverer Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “Not too hot for liquid water, and not too cold.” The planet, Gliese 581g, orbits a dwarf star 20 light years away, nestled in the constellation Libra. Though it bears many similarities to the Earth, there are some differences: The planet doesn’t spin on its axis, but is instead held in a gravitational lock so that one side always faces its sun, while the other is always dark. On the dark side, temperatures could dip to 25 degree below zero, but on the sunny side, it would be “shirt-sleeve weather,” said co-discoverer Steven Vogt of UC-Santa Cruz. Scientists don’t know yet if there is water on the planet’s surface, but Vogt said that given the amenities, “chances for life on this planet are 100 percent.” The finding was announced by the National Science Foundation on Wednesday.”—Slate Magazine

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47 Answers

ucme's avatar

Yeah I saw this. I wouldn’t mind being the first person to set foot there. I’d immediately proclaim myself King & set about the pleasurable business of populating the place with my superior offspring. I would of course be aided in this by the thousands of concubines I had transported with me. Well someones gotta do it!!

mrentropy's avatar

Do we have telescopes that can actually see these planets now, or are we still doing the light refraction thing?

poisonedantidote's avatar

Thats good news indeed, but I would not pay too much attention to the goldilocks thing. Our planet has had 4.5 billion years of developing in a very specific way. The distance to it’s star is important, if there can be liquid water thats quite a good thing, but it could turn out to be as habitable as mars.

If you go back in time far enough on earth, you will arrive at a time when the only forms of life that existed where little microbes that lived of methane, and the planet had no photosynthesis life and therefore no oxygen. while the planet is in the goldilocks area, its air could be poisonous to us. we need to be able to see the planet closer, to do spectral analysis and see what its atmosphere is like and what it is made of. it could very well be covered in lava from volcanic activity for all we know.

@mrentropy yea, still watching stars wobble, we need to wait for them to build that big array telescope in orbit that they have talked about. then we will actually be able to see it and do much more.

erichw1504's avatar

It may be a long time before we actually are able to travel there, but we may be able to send communications/signals there pretty soon and see if we get any responses. Or maybe we’ll be able to get an even closer look and spot life on it. None-the-less, I am looking forward to finding out more about this planet.

Did it say how it’s size compares to Earth?

CMaz's avatar

”“chances for life on this planet are 100 percent.””

LOL Too funny. Chances?

Well then it can also be said that “chances” for life on the planet is 0% as well.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I saw this one as well. It’s interesting, but I think I’ll stick with earth. I like the changing of day to night, the seasons, etc.

loser's avatar

Nah… I’m not big on travel.

mrentropy's avatar

@poisonedantidote Oh. Then as far as I’m concerned these are just guesses. Maybe really good guesses, but a guess just the same.

MilkyWay's avatar

haha, is this reallly true? if so im allup 4 it!

Blackberry's avatar

Can we just send all the religious people there? They can have their own theocracy and not bother anyone else.

JustmeAman's avatar

There are many many more that are too far away to discover and life on each of these planets may be quite different than our own. Nothing says they have to have our atmostphere to exist and nothing says that water would be required we are thinking of how life exists on this planet and how it came about. I’m all for discovery that is what we are doing in this life.

CMaz's avatar

Or how about we send all the non religious people there. And, bla, bla, bla.

;-)

erichw1504's avatar

@JustmeAman I always think about that! The physics and bio mechanics of our world may be completely different than that of another world.

ragingloli's avatar

Gliese, huh. If I am not mistaken, those stars are some of the prime candidates for the home of the Grey Aliens in Ufology.
Coincidence?

CMaz's avatar

“Nothing says they have to have our atmostphere to exist and nothing says that water would be required ”

Sure it does. Except on Star Trek.

ragingloli's avatar

Considering that life in all likelyhood started in the water, a planet does not even have to have an atmosphere at all to harbour life.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

The discovery of the planet is impressive enough in itself, but it’s more striking that they found this place nearby (in astronomical terms) circling a very common type of star. That would suggest that small, rocky planets are commonplace in the galaxy; we just have a hard time detecting them. Only a few stars have been scrutinized so far – and there are so many.

I’d like to go there, but Special Relativity says all I can do is dream over the brochure.

CMaz's avatar

Atmosphere, then life formation.

ragingloli's avatar

Wrong. Surely I do not have to remind you that our oxygenated atmosphere is a byproduct of life, not prerequisite for it?

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Concur with @ragingloli, Any planet with liquid water would necessarily have an atmosphere. Otherwise, the vapor pressure would bleed it into space. The primordial atmosphere of Earth contained a lot of methane and ammonia, and little oxygen, but it’s thought that the development of the biosphere changed the composition over time.

CMaz's avatar

@ragingloli – Actually, when the atmosphere was capable of supporting extremely low forms of life. Those life forms helped produce a stronger atmosphere that enabled stronger forms of life to grow.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t need to go up there, still have work here. But just because it’s suited for life doesn’t mean life will happen.

YoBob's avatar

In my 20’s I would be the first on the ship. Now, I’ve grown pretty darned comfortable right here on Earth.

RareDenver's avatar

As it is tidally locked and one side is constantly facing its star and the other in perpetual darkness would the resultant atmospheric temperature difference not result in some massively strong winds?

And what do we call the area that sits between light and dark? The Twilight Zone?

wundayatta's avatar

I think it’s interesting. A target for SETI. A place that sci fi writers can speculate about. If it’s tidally locked, does that mean it doesn’t have a moon?

If it has the winds @RareDenver mentions, and it had life, wouldn’t the life be shaped by the winds? And what about the transition from light to dark? Could creatures survive on both sides, or would different creatures develop on either side? I’m pretty sure I don’t want to emigrate there.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Yay! But send a sweeper team first so that the monsters don’t eat us when we land.

CaptainHarley's avatar

If I were younger and in good health, hell yes, I would go! : ))

daytonamisticrip's avatar

I’m staying here on my home planet with all the animals and plants I already know. Although I hope pretty much everyone else goes so this planet can heal.

NaturallyMe's avatar

No i wouldn’t. The idea of space travel really doesn’t sit well with me. I like earth, in fact i love it and i don’t want to move.

JustmeAman's avatar

I would love to visit other planets but you guys that want to stay on Earth or right as far as I’m concerned. I don’t want to leave here even after death.

AstroChuck's avatar

My understanding is that because of its (Gleise 581g) close proximity to the star it is almost certainly tidally locked (one hemisphere is always facing the sun). This is a big problem if we are hoping to find life there. It could very well be another Venus and be a planet with a runaway greenhouse effect.

ETpro's avatar

@AstroChuck Life would live in the temperate belt that is always semi light. Those life forms adapted to cold would migrate closer to the permanently dark side, and those preferring heat would migrate toward the hot zone facing Gliese 581 directly. Also, since Gliese 581 is a red dwarf, its radiation is much less than that of our sun.

I’m still not quite ready to jump in the spaceship, though. At 20 light years, the fastest craft on our drawing boards today would need about 25,000 years to get there. I eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly, but I am not sure I could last to set foot on Gliese 581 G.

AstroChuck's avatar

@ETpro- Living near the terminator wouldn’t make much of a difference if we are talking runaway greenhouse temperatures. There would be nowhere to hide, at least on the surface. Also the air pressure involved would be pretty intense. Of course we can’t tell if any of these scenarios are actual or not. It is possible a somewhat recent impact (recent in geological terms) with a large body could have resulted in a rotating planet. Chances are Gleise 581g is in a tidal lock with its sun though.

ETpro's avatar

@AstroChuck What a bummer it would be to take 25,000 years getting there only to learn that it’s not the least bit habitable and can’t even be terraformed with the resources in the ship.

YoBob's avatar

@ETpro There is also that annoying problem of it being 3 times the mass of earth. You’re probably going to have a tough time going out for an evening stroll without your handy dandy super exoskeleton suit.

mrentropy's avatar

@YoBob Not if you have a Segway!

YoBob's avatar

Do they make a Segway that is rated for 500 lbs? That’s about how much a 160 pound earthling would weigh on such a planet.

mrentropy's avatar

I give up.

ETpro's avatar

@YoBob But imagine how strong I’d be on return to earth. Back to 160 pounds after carrying a 500 pound body around on Gliese 581 G for all that time.

JustmeAman's avatar

I too give up.

ETpro's avatar

@Steve_A No. That would be an artist’s conception. We detest distant planets by their gravitational effect on their central star and by the occasional diminution of light from the star as a plantet passes between the star and Earth. We have no telescopes able to show us details of planet surface in star systems 20 light years away.

mattbrowne's avatar

I’ll send my androids.

AstroChuck's avatar

@mattbrowne- Andrew and Ellora perhaps?

mattbrowne's avatar

@AstroChuck – Yes, and plenty of human embryos ;-)

WMFlight's avatar

Nope.
I’d wait a few years to see if the settlers grew tails or started eating each other.

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