New somewhat Earth-like exoplanet/Symphony of Science
September 5, 2011
It’s been waaaay too long since I had a good space/science post. So here are a couple of interesting things that have already been floating around the science blogs for a few days, but you may not have heard about unless you’re as big of a nerd as I am.
- We have another interesting exoplanet discovery worth talking about. It’s another super-Earth that sits within the habitable zone of its parent star- that is- liquid water could exist on its surface. At least, provided there is sufficient cloud cover. This planet, which has the fascinating title of HD 85512 b, is near the warmer edge of the habitable zone, which means there would have to be sufficient cloud cover to reflect some of the incoming radiation from its star, lest it have a runaway greenhouse effect that would make it very Venus-like (scorching hot and covered in dense, toxic clouds). This world is about 3.6 times the mass of Earth, but it was detected using the radial velocity method rather than the transit method, so we only know its mass, not its size. But if it’s a rocky world and its mass is 3.6 times that of Earth, it’s bound be a good bit bigger than Earth. Granted, we don’t know anything for sure about the atmospheric makeup of this exoplanet because we don’t have any instruments capable of detecting that yet. The radial velocity method detects planets orbiting a star by seeing the tiny gravitational wobble the planet exerts on its parent star. If we eventually aim a telescope such as Kepler at this star, and the planet transits the star, we’ll then know its approximate size and may even be able to make a better judgment on its atmospheric makeup. Until then, though, we have to rely on computer models to speculate what the air might be like. For more info see: Universe Today or National Geographic.
- You may recall Symphony of Science from back when Jack White’s Third Man Records released a 7″ vinyl single of the track “A Glorious Dawn ft. Stephen Hawking.” Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy mentioned in a post yesterday that John Boswell, creator of Symphony of Science, has put 11 tracks in a compilation on bandcamp for free (or name your own price). So go snag it now and throw the guy a few bones while you’re at it. It’s a pretty awesome idea, and I’m obviously a fan of anything that puts music and science in the same sentence.