Does life exist on other planets? The age-old question came closer to an answer on September 29, 2010 when the National Science Foundation announced that two astronomers have made a major discovery that is published in the Astrophysical Journal.
Steven Vogt, professor of astronomy at University of California at Santa Cruz, and Paul Butler, of the Carnegie Institute at Washington, D.C., speculate that the planet G that orbits Gliese 581 may be capable of supporting life. “Our findings offer a compelling case for a potentially habitable planet,” Vogt said. He added “there could be tens of billions of these systems in our galaxy.”
Gliese 581G is a red dwarf star, located about 20 light years (about 121 trillion miles) away from our home planet in the constellation Libra. Scientists and astronomers say that several planets revolve around it. They once thought that several of these planets were capable of supporting life but only one lies in the “Goldilocks Zone.”
It is Gliese 581G, which is approximately the size of Jupiter.
“Goldilocks and the Three Bears” is a time honored fairy tale. Three bears, mama, papa, and baby bear are about to sit down to eat porridge. The porridge is too hot so the bears go for a walk so it can cool.
Along comes Goldilocks, a little girl with golden colored hair, who enters the bear’s house and tries the porridge. Papa bear’s porridge is too hot, mama’s is too cold, but baby bear’s porridge is just right, and she eats it all up.
Gliese 581 G is much heavier than earth and a complete revolution around its star takes 37 days making a much shorter year than on earth. One portion of Gliese 581G is “just right” to sustain life as we know it.
Because of gravity creating tidal lock, one portion of the planet always faces the star Gliese 582. It is called the terminator zone and is the meld of hot and cold on the planet. The climate is temperate and water can exist in liquid state. It is in that zone that life is most likely to flourish. This could be simple, one celled life forms such as mold or bacteria, or possibly something more complex.
Recently, Vatican astronomer Brother Guy Consolmagno hinted that extra terrestrial life could exist and that the church would welcome these newcomers if they came to earth, fueling speculation that the promised disclosure of alien life may not be too far away.
Many from the scientific and lay communities interested in science and/or religion have disagreed about the possibility of life elsewhere. Many feel that life does exist extra-terrestrially and that the government is keeping it a secret but is about the disclose this very real possibility. Others pooh-pooh the idea, insisting that only earth entertains life.
In a recent statement to the press, Vogt said, “Personally, given the ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever it can, I would say, my own personal feeling is that the chances of life on this planet are 100 percent.”
Gliese 581- Wickipedia
The Huffington Post