The last century has witnessed space scientists discovering almost 2,000 alien worlds beyond the solar system. However, none of those places have ended scientists’ quest for a habitable Earth analog or exoplanet.
Astronomers representing the University of Hertfordshire and University of London feel that before the idea of existence of exoplanets gets disproved completely, it is necessary that analysis of data collected from different alien worlds get analyzed with extreme care. This very belief lead to a study that got published in last week’s edition of the journal Science. The study revealed that an exoplanet orbiting its nearby star within a habitable zone does exist.
People started talking about the “Super Earth” Gliese 581d first, when in 2009, it was revealed that Gliese 581d possibly has the ability to support water on its potentially rocky surface. This Super Earth is 7 times heavier and twice the size of Earth. That’s not all; the surface gravity of the exoplanet is also nearly two times of Earth’s surface gravity.
The thought might be an extreme one at this moment, but it’s not completely illogical to believe that such a planet if proved to possess liquid water and an atmosphere will also have life in it. This faith is enough to carry the study on the said exoplanet further as one of the primary focuses of space scientists have always been finding a world beyond Earth that has its habitation.
The name of the star of Gliese 581d is Gliese 581; it is tiny red dwarf located at a distance of nearly 20 light-years. For those who don’t know: red dwarfs are tiny tempestuous stars known for producing violent and blazing outburst. Another characteristic feature of these stars is their dark starspots.
Scientists might have more work in hand as it appears that Gliese 581d isn’t the only exoplanet located in an orbit surrounding the star Gliese 581. According to the study published in the journal Science, there’s another potentially inhabitable exoplanet around the star called the Gliese 581g. In addition, there are three more established exoplanets namely Gliese 581c, Gliese 581d and Gliese 581e.
Recently obtained operational data, however, is suggesting that Gliese 581g might not be habitable. However, debate is still going on about the status of Gliese 581d.