A Habitable Zone, Earth-like Planet Only 14 Light Years Away

Message boards : SETI@home Science : A Habitable Zone, Earth-like Planet Only 14 Light Years Away
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Michael Watson

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Message 1749739 - Posted: 16 Dec 2015, 20:09:57 UTC

Newly discovered Wolf 1061 c is the closest Earth-like planet residing in its star's habitable zone, ever found. It is only about 14 light years distant.
This close proximity might make it possible to analyze the atmosphere of the planet when it crosses in front of its star, and judge its habitability. The planet orbits its star very closely, in a mere 18 days. Since the star is a dim red dwarf, this still places it in the zone where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface, under favorable conditions.
Link to article below:

http://phys.org/news/2015-12-nearby-star-hosts-closest-alien.html
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Michael Watson

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Message 1749748 - Posted: 16 Dec 2015, 21:47:10 UTC
Last modified: 16 Dec 2015, 21:48:55 UTC

Assuming a density similar to Earth's, a planet of 4.3 times the mass of the Earth should have a surface gravity about 50 percent greater than our planet, if my calculations are correct. The larger size of the planet puts its center farther from the surface, and so reduces the force of gravity there.
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Michael Watson

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Message 1749920 - Posted: 17 Dec 2015, 18:10:05 UTC
Last modified: 17 Dec 2015, 18:17:20 UTC

A planet that orbits a star as nearly as this one does is likely to be tidally-locked. If so, one side will always face the star, just as one side of the Moon always faces Earth, and for the same reason, gravity.
This raises some interesting problems and questions about how life would fare on such a planet. It's been wondered if the atmosphere and water would eventually boil off into space from the hot, star-ward side, or if life could manage in a narrow twilight zone between the hot and frozen hemispheres.
Some current thinking suggests that even a modest atmosphere, and any oceans, would help a great deal in moving heat around the planet, and so, moderating the extremes of temperature. Even with such moderation of heat, the planet would probably have at least a torrid zone, like either our tropics, or deserts, or some of each, on the star-ward side. A frigid zone, opposite the star, seems indicated, and a temperate zone between the two, in a band around the light/dark terminator. With a mass of 4.3 times that of Earth, Kepler 1061 c seems well fixed to hold onto its atmosphere and oceans, if either are were present.
Since the planet only rotates once in 18 days, it might have a single, planet-wide atmospheric convection pattern. Heat could drive rising winds away from the star-ward point in all directions toward the opposite side of the planet. This would push sinking, cooler air on the dark side back toward the lighted side of the planet.
This star is described as a 'non-active' red dwarf, meaning that it doesn't suffer from the flaring variations in heat output that some red dwarf stars do, These variations have been cited as possibly prohibitive to the development of life, or at least holding life to a primitive level.
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Message 1750480 - Posted: 20 Dec 2015, 0:47:45 UTC

Imagine if life originated in the terminator zones, then adapted to live in both the light and dark faces. Or if organic molecules existed all over the planet and life originated 3 different times. That would be some crazy extreme biological diversity.
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Message 1750777 - Posted: 21 Dec 2015, 9:19:01 UTC

well, one thing is for sure - Life finds a way!

& about rotation of Wolf 1061c...we can't simply know about it...
a star is so small...& planet is just a bit larger than Earth...
we can only speculate...but it's going to be nice to speculate & check it out... ;)

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Dave Hamann

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Message 1753116 - Posted: 2 Jan 2016, 7:00:27 UTC

An in depth analysis was published on forbes a about a week ago.
Good to see such coverage by non-science media.
Check it here http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucedorminey/2015/12/29/extrasolar-planet-hunting-hits-home/
The proud owner of IGCSE World.
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Message boards : SETI@home Science : A Habitable Zone, Earth-like Planet Only 14 Light Years Away


 
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