Friday, March 30, 2012

Life on Other Planets

Milky Way Harbors Billions of Planets Where Life Could Flourish: Study

(Photo: ESO/L. Cal├žada)
This artist’s impression shows a sunset seen from the super-Earth Gliese 667 Cc. The brightest star in the sky is the red dwarf Gliese 667 C, which is part of a triple star system. The other two more distant stars, Gliese 667 A and B appear in the sky also to the right.
Red dwarf stars are some of the most common and long-lived stars in the galaxy -- and many of them may harbor planets that could support life, according to new research announced Wednesday.
European researchers examined 102 red dwarf stars over six years and found a total of nine "super-Earths" -- planets with a mass between one and 10 times that of our planet. Two of the exoplanets orbit at just the right distance from their suns to place them in the habitable zone where liquid water can exist, according to a paper that will appear in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
One of the super-Earths, Gliese 667Cc, orbits in the habitable zone around one of the stars in a triple-star system about 22 light years from Earth.


Science Fiction or Fact: Sentient Living Planets Exist

Date: 30 March 2012 Time: 02:39 PM ET

avatar pandora
A world alive? The moon Pandora in "Avatar," with the gas giant Polyphemus looming in the background.
CREDIT: 20th Century Fox
In this weekly series, Life's Little Mysteries rates the plausibility of popular science fiction concepts. Warning: Some spoilers ahead!
Narrators of nature shows often speak of Earth as a "living planet." To an extent, the metaphor is true: Biological beings do indeed swim, crawl and fly through our world's uppermost layers of ocean, land and sky. Plant life covers much of the Earth, and bacteria and viruses suffuse its soils, waters and even atmosphere.
But all that is still a far cry from the literally living, conscious planets that make appearances in many sci-fi and fantasy stories. Take Mogo in the "Green Lantern" DC Comics series, for instance. This planetary entity can change its climate and grow foliage in desired patterns on its surface at will.



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