Studying Distant Worlds to Determine Life Capacities

February 6, 2012 at 9:03 PM (astronomy topics, current news, extraterrestrial studies, late night studies)

As the fascinating search for worlds beyond our local realm continues, it is confirmed that over 700 extra-solar planets have been discovered.  Certainly, it is fascinating to realize that so much exists beyond our designated area of the universe, and to know that the searches of outer space are providing exciting details.  Yet, the major effort remains to find a world that might be something like our own!

A system called The Planetary Habitability Index, P.H.I., is being used to account for the capacity for extra-solar worlds to support life.  It was created by Mr. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, an astrobiologist at Washington State University.  P.H.I. detects extra-solar planets, and it determines their capacities for our comprehension supporting life.

As distant worlds are located, the images of them are studied in order to gain an understanding of their compositions.  It is determined whether or not these planets are gas giants, or if they are terrestrial.  Schulze-Makuch leads these studies with recognition of these differences, using P.H.I. to understand how several of the extra-solar planets might have the capacities to sustain life.  He has used methods of study to show the differences between gas giant worlds and terrestrial worlds, specifically focusing on whether of not the terrestrial worlds are able to support life-sustaining liquids.

The Earth Similarity Index, E.S.I., is being used to recognize the compositions of extra-solar planets, and how wholesome the surface of the measures that are used to assist with retaining these worlds.  The size and makeups of planets, along with their atmospheres, and their temperatures, are combined to use  whether or not the planets are capable.  Additionally, further studies that are similar to The Drake Equation are used to show whether or not skilled and suitable equations can show the number  of suitable planets located throughout this galaxy.

Gliese 581g is the current world that is being recognized through E.S.I..  Yet, current studies are taking place to determine as to whether or not this world actually exists.  It is supposed to be three or four times as massive as Earth, located within a habitable zone that orbits the star Gliese 581.  The world is supposed to be tidally locked, meaning that it is fixed with one side always facing it’s host star, and one side forever turned away from the star.

Other worlds, Gliese 581c and Gliese 581d, have an E.S.I. that is similar to Mars.  Their P.S.I. shows that the worlds can be compared to Europa and Enceladus, moons of Jupiter and Saturn.  These comparisons show that the Gliese worlds could contain elements that may not necessarily be carbon-based, or water-based, yet they do have elements that might provide life-supporting capacities, which are active through energy levels that do not require full power from host stars.




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