Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Mar 06th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

A New Earth?

space_ngc7331A team of astronomers discovers a distant planet with conditions that may be “just right” for life
A team of astronomers based at UC Santa Cruz and the Carnegie Institution of Washington has announced the discovery of a planet in another solar system that has some of the Goldilocks conditions for sustaining life.

The team, led by Steven Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC, and Paul Butler from the Carnegie Institution, announced its findings on Sept. 29 of an Earth-sized planet located squarely within its host star’s “habitable stone.”

The planet is currently being called Gliese 581g. It rotates around its sun Gliese 581, a star 20 light years away from Earth that can be seen by human eyes in the constellation Libra. This star has been a controversial planet-bearing red dwarf that has sparked much debate among planet hunters. As of now, its total planet tally is six—and Gliese 581g is not its first orbiter suspected of being suitable for life. Two previously discovered Gliese 581 acolytes lie on the fringes of the habitable zone (the distance from the sun that would allow liquid water to exist) but Gliese 581g orbits in the range that is “just right,” according to Vogt.

However, even though the planet may meet the frequently elusive conditions for sustaining life, Earthlings should note that the classification “potentially habitable” is not synonymous with temperate or pleasant. Gliese 581g would be anything but pleasant for a terrestrial visitor; the planet is tidally locked, so half the planet always faces the sun while the other half rests in eternal darkness, making extreme regional climates. The areas thought to be habitable—the terminators—are in the border zones between the darkness and the light.

Though its local climates may radically vary from Earth’s, the findings suggest that the two planets have other similarities. Though it is three to four times larger than our host planet, its mass suggests a rocky planet that could support an atmosphere.

These findings are based on 11 years of telescopic observation. Though light years away, in the scale of the universe, Gliese 581 is a neighboring star, which leads Vogt to believe that that there are many stars that have solar systems containing potentially habitable planets throughout the universe. “If these are rare, we shouldn't have found one so quickly and so nearby,” he said in a Sept. 29 UCSC press release. “There could be tens of billions of these systems in our galaxy.”

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Crop Circles

How the confusion over GMOs is undermining the organic movement

 

Week of Festivals: Full Moon, Lantern Festival, Purim, Holi

It is a week of many different festivals along with a full moon, all occurring simultaneously. Thursday Chinese New Year celebrations end with the Lantern Festival (at full moon). Thursday is also the Pisces Solar festival (full moon), Purim (Jewish Festival) and Holi (Hindu New Year Festival). Sunday, March 8, Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. The festival of Purim celebrates the freedom of the Hebrew people from the cruel Haman (a magistrate) seeking to destroy them. Esther, the Queen of Persia, who was secretly Jewish, saved her people from death. The sweet cookie hamentaschen celebrates this festival. Friday, March 6, is Holi, the Hindu Spring Festival celebrated after the March full moon. Bonfires are lit the night before, warding off evil. Holi, the Festival of Colors, is the most colorful festival in the world. It is also the Festival of Love—of Radha for Krishna (the blue-colored God). It is a spring festival with singing, dancing, carnivals, food and bhang, a drink made of cannabis leaves. Holi signifies good over evil, ridding oneself of past errors, ending conflicts through rapprochement (returning to each other). It is a day of forgiveness, including debts. Holi also marks the beginning of New Year. At the Pisces Solar festival we recite the seed thought, “We leave the Father’s home and, turning back, we save.” Great Teachers remain on Earth until all of humanity is enlightened. The New Group of World Servers is called to this task and sacrifice. Sacrifice (from the heart) is the first Law of the Soul, the heart of which is Love. This sacrifice saves the world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of March 6

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Water Street Grill

YOLO gets reincarnated

 

What would make Santa Cruz better?

A lot more outdoor activities such as outdoor movies and concerts, food and art festivals, and more multicultural activites. Emmanuel Cole, Santa Cruz, Bicycle Industry Product Developer

 

Thomas Fogarty Winery

When looking for a bottle of something to have with dinner, Gewürztraminer 2012 is not the first wine to come to mind. Given the popularity of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Pinot Noir—to name but a few—Gewürztraminer sits low on the totem pole.

 

So Long, Louie’s

Louie’s Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar closes, plus Back Porch pop-up, and 2015 Outstanding in the Field tour