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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Planet Krypton Found !

It's got the same climate as Earth, plus water and gravity. A newly discovered planet is the most stunning evidence that life - just like us - might be out there.

Wow ! A planet with gravity !
Above a calm, dark ocean, a huge, bloated red sun rises in the sky - a full ten times the size of our Sun as seen from Earth. Small waves lap at a sandy shore and on the beach, something stirs...

How in the heck do they know the ocean is calm ? Or Dark ? Small waves on a sandy shore ? That's one hell of a telescope ! Maybe they can tell us how many grains of sand are on that shore.
The discovery was announced today by a team of European astronomers, using a telescope in La Silla in the Chilean Andes.

What ? Last I looked the Chilean Andes weren't in Europe.
This remarkable discovery appears to confirm the suspicions of most astronomers that the universe is swarming with Earth-like worlds.
We don't yet know much about this planet, (other than it's got small waves lapping at a sandy shore and on the beach, that has something stirring on it, looking over a calm, dark ocean) but scientists believe that it may be the best candidate so far for supporting extraterrestrial life.
The new planet, which orbits a small, red star called Gliese 581, is about one-and-a-half times the diameter of the Earth.

It probably has a substantial atmosphere and may be covered with large amounts of water - necessary for life to evolve - and, most importantly, temperatures are very similar to those on our world.

So Global Warming is there too ? Crap !
The surface gravity is probably around twice that of the Earth and the atmosphere could be similar to ours.
Although the new planet is in itself very Earth-like, its solar system is about as alien as could be imagined. The star at the centre - Gliese 581 - is small and dim, only about a third the size of our Sun and about 50 times cooler.
The Earth-like planet orbits its sun at a distance of only six million miles or so (our Sun is 93 million miles away), travelling so fast that its "year" only lasts 13 of our days.

There's so many years I've lived where I can, at best recall only thirteen days...
The parent star would dominate the view from the surface - a huge red ball of fire that must be a spectacular sight. It is difficult to speculate what - if any - life there is on the planet. If there is life there it would have to cope with the higher gravity and solar radiation from its sun.

Superman... stirring on the beach.

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