Exoplanet near Gliese 581 star ‘could host life’

BBC News reports: “A red dwarf star 20 light-years away is again providing hints that it hosts the first definitively habitable planet outside our Solar System.

The planet Gliese 581d is at the colder outer edge of the ‘Goldilocks zone’ in which liquid water can be sustained.

Now a study in Astrophysical Journal Letters suggests its atmosphere may keep things warm enough for water.

The solar system also hosts another contender for habitability, unconfirmed planet Gliese 581g announced in 2010.

However, the existence of that planet has since been called into question.

Gliese 581d is less controversial; it was discovered along with the planet Gliese 581c in 2007, occupying the outer and inner edges of the Goldilocks zone, respectively.

Gliese 581c was soon determined to be too close to its host star to sustain water, with a surface temperature exceeding 1,000C.

Conversely, the outlying planet 581d – with a mass about six times that of the Earth and twice its size – was initially taken to be too cold to have liquid water.

Now, French researchers have run computer simulations of the planet’s atmosphere, arguing that it is likely to contain high concentrations of carbon dioxide.

They contend that conditions could be suitable for oceans of liquid water as well as clouds and rainfall.

However, Gliese 581d’s denser air and dim red light from its host star would make for a murky environment that would be toxic to humans…” (Luke 21:25; Matthew 24:29 – see the next report.)

Striking view of ‘Milky Way twin’

BBC News reports: “Astronomers have released what they say is the best-yet picture of NGC 6744, a spiral galaxy described as a ‘sibling’ of our own Milky Way.

The image was snapped by the European Southern Observatory’s MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope in Chile.

The galaxy lies 30 million light-years away, in the constellation Pavo.

While it is almost twice as large as the Milky Way, it exhibits the same sharply-defined spiral arms and stretched central region.

There is even a small companion galaxy, visible at the lower right of the image, which is analogous to our own galactic neighbours the Magellanic Clouds.

Those arms host many star-forming regions; the glow coming from hydrogen gas in these active regions shows up as red in the image…”

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