Posts Tagged 'Habitable zone'

Goldilocks, and other Habitable Zones for Life

Heard of the Goldilocks zone?

It’s the idea that an area of space around a star will be at the right temperature for life to exist. Not too hot, not too cold, hence Goldilocks.

It’s a bit like standing around a campfire on a very cold night. Stand too far away and you freeze, stand too close and you catch on fire and burn to death.

It’s the same with planets orbiting stars too, if they’re too far away then water freezes and life can’t emerge, and if they orbit too close the planet is roasting hot and nothing can live.

It gets a bit more complex than this though, but complex in a fun way. Oh and its also got some pretty big implications for the search for extraterrestrial life…

Continue reading ‘Goldilocks, and other Habitable Zones for Life’


Life in our Solar System – Venus

In previous posts I’ve looked at the possibility that alien life could be found in our solar system, on three of Jupiter’s moons, in Jupiter itself, and on two of Saturn’s moons.

This time we’re moving nearer to home, to the planet closest to our own, Venus, the second rock from the Sun.

Continue reading ‘Life in our Solar System – Venus’

Has Kepler already found the first Earth-like exoplanet?

The holy grail of exoplanet hunting is to find a planet like Earth orbiting a distant star in its habitable zone (the region around a star where life can exist).

Since 1992 the pace of exoplanet discovery has accelerated, with 538 confirmed planets found as of March 2011, and the space telescope Kepler, launched in 2009, has already made some exciting planetary discoveries, including a 6 planet solar system. And now it may have found the first known Earth-like exoplanets.

Continue reading ‘Has Kepler already found the first Earth-like exoplanet?’

Did someone say ‘scorched super-Earth’?

A what? Yep, a ‘scorched super-Earth’. A rocky planet, like Earth, but bigger, and extremely hot, hot enough to melt silicate rock. The Kepler space telescope has just found one.

But so what, is this really exciting news? Surely we’ve discovered loads of exoplanets (planets outside of our Solar System); there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy and if they all have planets then there must be loads of exoplanets, right?

Continue reading ‘Did someone say ‘scorched super-Earth’?’

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