An Extra-Solar World That Seems Like Home?

November 8, 2012 at 10:44 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I have been away from my scene for a minute, trying to get a hold on some things which I hope will bring some enlightening to other areas of the life setting.  That will have me involved with other activities which now have gained my enthusiasm.  Yet, I do intend to continue with my online curiosities!

Also, congratulations to President Barack Obama!  You always had support here, and you will continue to have a following from this direction.  We are looking forward to a progressive and prosperous four more years under your leadership, as we continue to remind the rest of the planet why The United States of America IS the greatest nation on Earth!

I took some time to stray from other recent priorities to return to some of my favorite areas of study, which include astronomy.  I have gotten stuck on trying to learn about the possibility of habitable worlds beyond our solar system, and the actuality of our ever being able to get to any of these places.  Astronomers and other space-studying scientists are making so many remarkable discoveries about what is out there that it is actually astounding!

One recent discovery is of a K-type main sequence star that has been labeled as HD 40307.  This star is roughly 43 light years away from Earth, situated within The Pictor Constellation.  It is located near to The Large Magellanic Cloud.  This is visible from the southern hemisphere.

Right now, HD 40307 is attracting attention because it has an ample number of worlds orbiting it, some of which having the possibilities of being habitable!  Astronomers and other scientific researchers have been able to identify six super-Earth worlds in orbit of HD 40307!  It seems that most of the planets practically are sitting on top of the star, in locations far too hot to support any manners of discernable life.  Five of them are in positions closer to HD 40307 than Mercury is to The Sun!  However, a lastly identified planet, HD 40307 g, seems to be out far enough to be regularly temperate for life to chance-appear!

HD 40307 g seems to be orbiting the star HD 40307 within the realm of the habitable zone.  Also referred to as The Goldilocks Zone, this is where things are “not too hot and not too cold”, practically perfect for supporting life!  Further observations of this world show that it is tidally locked, meaning that one side of HD 40307 always faces it’s host star.

HD 40307 b and HD 40307 d are attracting attentiong because they are being designated as Super Earth worlds.  These are extra-solar planets which are more massive than our Earth, yet not as massive as the larger worlds, gas giants akin to Jupiter and Saturn.  Many have objected to the term Super Earth because it does imply that the planet could be a seemingly plush world, filled with forests, possibly with critters roaming about, and maybe even a sentient species waiting to be contacted.  That is NOT what was meant when the researchers placed the term “Super Earth”, so I am not sure why they stuck with it.

Artist's conception of HD 40307g
An artist’s conception shows what astronomers hope to confirm: water and an atmosphere at 40307g.




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