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Maintained by suitti@uitti.net, Stephen Uitti

Large Rocky Planet Discovered

Using a spectrometer to measure the parent star's wobble using the mighty Keck telescope, the Gliese 876 system is found to have a rocky terrestrial planet (What about Bullwinkle?). It's about 7.5 times the mass of the Earth. It orbits in 1.94 days at a distance of about 2 million miles (0.021 AU). It's about 200 degrees Celsius. I'm thinking it's a fat Venus.

It could be tide locked, rotating once every 1.94 days so that it keeps one happy face towards it's Sun. That might give it a habitable zone somewhere. It could also give it wicked convection winds, and 200 degrees Celsius on the night side. If it does have a habitable zone, life could live there much longer than here on Earth. Gliese 876 has a third of the mass of the Sun, and smaller stars live longer. Research shows that dieting can make you live longer too. Or does it just seem longer?

It's about 15 light years away (140 petameters), practically in our back yard. It's visible from my back yard. Some of the first stars to have their distances measured were about this far away. It's in the constellation Aquarius, but it's inhabitants, if any, almost certainly don't know that. Gliese 876 is quite faint at around magnitude 10.15 to 10.19. It's worth a look for me, as I have an affinity for Aquarius. But that's another story.

This is the third planet discovered orbiting Gliese 876. It's also the nearest to the star. So, do the other two planets get renamed from Gliese 876b and Gliese 876c to Gliese 876c and Gliese 876d? Or is the new planet named Gliese 876d, for the order detected? Perhaps it follows the Star Trek naming convention, and it's called Rigel vii? Then there's the name we use for our own planet - which is, uhm, earth, or dirt, or something.

So, if you lived there, you'd have a birthday every 46.56 hours. You'd be just cleaning up from one party when it'd be time to set up for the next. And all your friends would be having their birthdays too. I'd be a youthful 8,750 years old. Take that, Methuselah.