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The Exoplanet Thread

astronomy planet science discovery exoplanet

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#221 RJDiogenes

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 06:07 PM

Well, it's been almost a year since I've updated this thread and the news is something that is almost as amazing as an alien megastructure, and a lot truer than an alien megastructure (probably).  It's the most amazing Exoplanet discovery yet:  An Earth-sized planet orbiting in the Goldilocks Zone of the nearest star to our Solar System. Yes, it's been rumored for a while and now it's confirmed to be true.  Just a little over four light years away, orbiting Proxima Centauri every 11 days, is a rocky terrestrial planet 1.3 times the size of Earth. Amazing.

Now, we don't know that much about it yet. In fact, we know next to nothing, except its minimum size (it could theoretically be a lot bigger) and its orbit. If the size is correct, the surface gravity would be not that much different than Earth.  We know that it has the potential to be habitable, but we don't know if it even has an atmosphere. A body that size is likely to, but it's also orbiting very close to a star that exhibits a fair amount of flare activity, which could be a problem. The other major problem is that the planet is very likely tidally locked, which would make the sunlit side a toasty 86 degrees and the dark side a nippy minus 22-- of course, a thick atmosphere would redistribute those temperatures somewhat.

So this is an amazing find, with a very strong potential for a living ecosphere-- but not a sure thing. We must learn a lot more.  But just knowing what we know could drive the development of greater technology in order to answer all our questions.
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#222 FarscapeOne

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 06:45 PM

We can call it "TERRA NOVA".  (I am certain many here will get the reference.)

#223 RJDiogenes

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 07:35 PM

Indeed. Enterprise beat me to it. When I lived in Dorchester back in the 60s, the name of the girl who lived next door was Terranova.  As soon as my Uncle told me what it meant, I always wanted to use it for a planet.
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#224 gsmonks

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Posted 26 August 2016 - 06:02 PM

Proxima Centauri has been a favourite of science fiction writers for half a century.

It apparently still is. There's no evidence of a habitable planet, yet everyone's so quick to jump in the clown car.
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