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A new exoplanet, Gliese 163c, added to the catalog of potential habitable exoplanets

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posted on Sep, 1 2012 @ 03:45 AM
A new superterran exoplanet (aka Super-Earth) was found in the stellar habitable zone of the red dwarf star Gliese 163 by the European HARPS team.

The planet, Gliese 163c, has a minimum mass of 6.9 Earth masses and takes nearly 26 days to orbit its star. Superterrans are those exoplanets between two and ten Earth masses, which are more likely composed of rock and water. Gliese 163 is a nearby red dwarf star 50 light years away in the Dorado constellation. Another larger planet, Gliese 163b, was also found to orbit the star much closer with a nine days period. An additional third, but unconfirmed planet, might be orbiting the star much farther away.

Artistic representation of Gliese 163c as a rock-water world covered with a dense cloud layer (left). It looks reddish, instead of white, due to the reflected light from its red dwarf parent star. Actual false-color image of the Gliese 163 star taken by NASA's WISE Mission (center). Map with the location of Gliese 163 in the constellation Dorado (right). CREDIT: PHL @ UPR Arecibo, NASA/IPAC IRSA, IAU, Sky & Telescope.

Gliese 163c could have a size between 1.8 to 2.4 Earth radii, depending if it is composed mostly of rock or water, respectively. It receives on average 40% more light from its parent star than Earth from the Sun, making it hotter. In comparison, Venus receives 90% more light from the Sun than Earth. We do not know the properties of the atmosphere of Gliese 163c but, if we assume that it is a scaled up version of Earth’s atmosphere, then its surface temperature might be around 60°C. Most complex life on Earth (plants, animals, and even humans) are not able to survive at temperatures above 50°C, however, plenty of extremophilic microbial life forms can thrive at those temperatures or higher.

Current six potential habitable exoplanets ranked by similarity with Earth (Earth = 1.00). Four of these objects have been detected in the last year, from September 2011 to today. Gliese 163c is represented here as a rock-water world of 2.4 Earth radii, however, it could be as small as 1.8 Earth radii if composed mostly of rock, like Earth. CREDIT: PHL @ UPR Arecibo

The detection of potential habitable exoplanets is pacing up. There are now six including the debated Gliese 581g, most of them detected just in the last year. Four of these bodies, Gliese 581d, Gliese 667Cc, Gliese 581g, and now Gliese 163c are around red dwarfs stars (M-star). HD 85512 is around a K-star (a middle star between the smaller red dwarfs and the Sun). Only Kepler-22b is around a Sun-like star (G-star). All of these planets are bigger than Earth but still considered potentially habitable, at least to simple life forms. Scientists are trying to construct better ground and space observatories in the next decades to be able to detect smaller worlds, those more resembling Earth. The Habitable Exoplanet Catalog of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory @ UPR Arecibo (, which was not involved in the discovery, now includes and ranks Gliese 163c as number five in its main list of best objects of interest for life.

There are about 2300 exoplanets that are still waiting to be confirmed by the NASA Kepler mission. Some of these bodies are very Earth-like but are also much farther away from us than Gliese 163 and therefore will be nearly impossible to determine if they are really habitable worlds.

However, the statistical analysis of Kepler suggests that these planets are very common in the galaxy.

Source: Habitable Exoplanets catalog
edit on 1-9-2012 by elevenaugust because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 1 2012 @ 03:59 AM
Even if we went there I really wouldnt want to because I would weigh like 800 pounds lol doesn't sound very fun

posted on Sep, 1 2012 @ 04:00 AM

Gliese 163c, has a minimum mass of 6.9 Earth masses and takes nearly 26 days to orbit its star

Even if we had the capabilities to fund a settlement colony there, TPTB wouldn't bother, too few shopping days before Christmas to make it a profitable colony.

Now if only they knew this much about our neighboring planets and moons.

posted on Sep, 1 2012 @ 09:04 AM
I'm not worried about having our colonization choices limited to planets like this. Many of the more earth like planets we've detected are either around a red dwarf, whose relative dimness makes it easier to spot planets, or superterrans who are bigger and easy to spot. As we get better at looking for exoplanets I think that we will begin to find more interesting worlds

posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 08:52 PM
Ironic that in Battleship the planet they sent the message to was Gliese 581g.

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