Thursday, March 12, 2015

Gliese 581



22 light years from Earth, in the Libra constellation, is a red dwarf known as Gliese 581. Announced as discovered in orbit around this red dwarf were seven planets, four in the habitable zone.


Fast forward several years and Gliese 581 no longer had seven planets but four. For those who missed the controversy, those planets didn’t just up and disappear; It seems that what happened was that the findings were dismissed as noise picked up on the spectrometer (wobbles from nearby star-spots).


No big deal, right?


Well, it would appear that one of those planets that disappeared – Gliese 581d was considered Earth-like only better. Seven times the size of Earth and temperate enough to have liquid water, this planet was considered quite a find. Until it no longer was considered a find.


BUT the ‘finders’ are still adamant that their methods were indeed correct and applicable. 


While locating something 22 light years away is tremendous, perhaps locating it via a ground-based observatory and so having to look through the atmosphere and then 22 light years out makes a difference. Of course, perhaps the ground sites have already allowed for that situation in their observations. Regardless I found the existence of the planets cool and have actually included them in my presentations but was upset that some ‘disappeared’.


Hopefully – they’ll be back?


**While more than one planet ‘disappeared’ around the red dwarf, those planets weren’t the only ones that were habitable. Regardless, after many years the controversy is back in the spotlight as a paper was published just last month in the Journal Science where this was the main focus.**


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