Signs of a planet like the Earth, where life could exist


30/09/2010

The planet, located in the solar system parallel to ours, it can be inhabited.

Discovered a new member of the family of planets orbiting a star - a red dwarf star that is 20 light years from us. The planet is called Gliese 581g, and her life could exist.

Gliese 581g - is the first planet other than the Earth, the size and location of which is just suitable for the origin of life.

"Personally, given the ability of life to adapt to any environment and develop in the most unexpected places, I would say that the chances of finding life on this planet are 100 percent. This I have little doubt," - said Steven Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics University of California, Santa Cruz.

This finding is based on a 11-year effort to collect information from ground-based telescopes that measure minute differences between the light of the stars, which are caused by the gravitational pull of orbiting planets.

Planet G - the sixth member of the family Gliese 581, which passes through the orbit of a liveable region of the solar system where the temperature regime is quite suitable for the existence of liquid water on the surface of the planets.

"It is, in fact, the first planet the size and location of which allow the existence of liquid water on its surface," - said the astronomer Raul Butler of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, DC, on a conference call Wednesday.

"If we do something, and we know about life is the fact that it definitely requires liquid water," - he added. "The planet must be placed at the right distance from the star that was neither too hot nor too cold ... and gravity of such a planet should be sufficient to keep the atmosphere and for the collection of water in the reservoirs."

Weighing three times the size of Earth, it is discovered planet is able to retain an atmosphere. Plus, there is the advantage of its time. Its parent star - a life-long resident. Planet attached to its sun just as the moon is always always looks the same side of the Earth - thus, half the planet always illuminated with the light, while the other half is in perpetual darkness. As a result, the temperature is extremely stable, but it is different for different sides of the planet.

"In this world there is no days and nights. On it the sun is always in the same position. Planet divided into very stable zones where the ecosystem of the same temperature ... almost always," - said Vogt. "If life evolves, it will be billions and billions of years to adapt to the surface."

"Given the prevalence of water, it seems likely that there is liquid water. On the surface of the Earth, wherever there is liquid on the surface of the water, meets life" - said Vogt.

The question is not to prove the existence of life on Gliese 581g, Butler said. "The question is to demonstrate its absence."

Currently existing technology does not allow scientists to study the atmosphere of this planet for the presence of chemical traces of life, but astronomers predict the discovery of many such planets suitable for life in the near future. If the orbit of at least one of them lies in the line of sight from Earth, it will be possible to collect atmospheric data.

"Unfortunately, the location of the system does not allow it, so this is not the case when nature is on our side," - said Vogt. "At the same time, it is so close and we have found it so quickly that it can be assumed that in the future we will find many more systems that will allow us to make the necessary observations. This is just the first signs of upcoming discoveries."

The study was published in the journal Astrophysical Journal. Popular news articles of science and technology only on our website.


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