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Space Science

Kepler: Many Red Dwarfs Have Earth-SIzed Planets Too 132

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the prepare-for-invasion dept.
astroengine writes "Extrapolating from findings by NASA's planet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope, scientists on Wednesday said roughly six percent of so-called red dwarf stars have Earth-sized planets properly positioned around their parent stars so that liquid water could exist on their surfaces. The team looked at 95 candidate planets circling red dwarf stars observed by Kepler and found that at least 60 percent have planets smaller than Neptune. Most were not the right size or temperature to be Earth-like, but three were found to be both warm and approximately Earth-sized. Statistically that would mean six percent of all red dwarf stars should have a Earth-sized planet. Since 75 percent of the closest stars are red dwarfs, the nearest Earth-like world may be just 13 light-years away."
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Kepler: Many Red Dwarfs Have Earth-SIzed Planets Too

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  • Re:14 LY from earth? (Score:3, Informative)

    by luxifr (1194789) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:58PM (#42810735)
    Vulcan is supposed to be in the 40-Eridani-System, which is about 16LY away from us and it's a trinary system. But scientists think that it may host a habitable planet [usatoday.com] :)

    So not all is lost ^^
  • by rgbatduke (1231380) <rgb.phy@duke@edu> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @04:17PM (#42812707) Homepage

    A tidally locked planet would have all of its atmosphere period precipitated out on the dark side. There would be no habitable band. The antipode opposite the sun would be open to space, cooling the surface there, essentially 100% of the time. There would be no factors driving global circulation -- the atmosphere would rapidly stratify (and get very hot indeed, stably, on the side facing the sun). Eventually, where by eventually I mean in a matter of a few days if one stopped the Earth from rotating without vaporizing it (can't be done, sure, I know) it get cold enough to first rain, then snow, the snow carbon dioxide, then the greenhouse effect disappears and the temperature really plummets, and in just a little bit more time you have a rain of oxygen and nitrogen followed (as they deplete the atmosphere by a fall of solid oxygen-nitrogen sleet). As fast as it falls out on the dark side, it is replenished from the warm side (cooling as it comes) until the warm side -- now bloody hot not unlike the lit side of the moon -- has almost no atmosphere at all. The dark side has a rather large mountain of frozen air centered fairly symmetrically on the solar antipode. There would probably be some residual partial pressure of gas, but it wouldn't be enough to keep your blood from boiling anywhere on the planet's surface.

    If the atmosphere was a more exotic mix, you'd actually precipitate out the gases in layers, frozen methane in one layer, oxygen in another, hydrogen and helium on top of the whole mess at the end.

    So "tidally locked" is indeed a fatal problem.

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