4 Gliese 581c is a planet that scientists have concluded could possibly support life. But Gliese 581c is no ordinary planet. And even though it could theoretically support life, it is not at all look like Earth.
Gliese 581c orbits a tiny red-dwarf star, 20.3 light years away from us in the direction of the constellation of Libra. With a mass at least 5.5 times that of the Earth, it is a super-Earth.
Because it is tidally locked, one side of the planet is constantly subjected to harsh sunlight, while the other half remains forever shrouded in darkness. The only place where you, or anything else, could survive on Gliese 581c is in the narrow strip of twilight between the two sides, where the temperature can support life. The skies of Gliese 581c are deep crimson and every plant on the surface would have to use infrared light for photosynthesis, giving them a deep black color instead of green. Because of this planet’s amazing potential for life, in 2008, a message was broadcast directly at Gliese 581c, in hopes of making contact with life there. The message should reach Gliese 581c in 2029. [artistic illustration]
5(02 January 2014) Nicknamed waterworld, a planet dubbed as GJ 1214b, has been identified as an ocean-planet that has absolutely no land. GJ 436b, 2.6 times Earth’s diameter and weighs 7 times as much, orbits a red-dwarf star, 42 light-years away from us in the constellation Ophiuchus.
Not unlike the water-planet seen in the movie Interstellar and anyone on the surface of GJ 1214b would only see ocean in all directions. The global oceans on GJ 1214b are also miles deep, stretching all the way down into the planet’s core, making GJ 1214b a unique water planet. [artistic illustration]
In fact, it is so large that WASP-17b’ existence violates our current understanding of how planets form. WASP-17b is about 1,000 light years from Earth in the constellation Scorpius. Perhaps even more ugly, WASP-17b has a retrograde orbit, meaning this planet orbits in the opposite direction of its parent star — most planet do not orbit this way — making WASP-17b be a rare stelar mystery. [artistic illustration]
I would have to say this is one of the strangest planets we know about,
Sara Seager said.
7 known as HD 188753, this planet is located, in probably, the most bizarre solar system in the known universe. Located 151 light-years away in the constellation of Cygnus, this planet’ solar system has 3 stars.
That means anyone standing on HD 188753 would have triple shadows, witness almost daily solar eclipses, and see a sunset no matter which direction they faced on the planet. [artistic illustration]
The sky view from this planet would be spectacular, with an occasional triple sunset,
said Dr. Maciej Konacki.
Before now, we had no clues about whether planets could form in such gravitationally complex systems.
The planet belongs to a common class of extrasolar planets called “hot Jupiters,” which are gas giants that zip closely around their parent stars. In this case, the planet whips every 3.3 days around a star that is circled every 25.7 years by a pirouetting pair of stars locked in a 156-day orbit.
In this close-knit system, there would be no room at the outskirts of the parent star system for a planet to grow,