Dying Stars And Planets To Live On

Astronomers have long thought that the best place for life as we know it is a planet in the "habitable zone" - the range of orbits that leads to planets with liquid water - surrounding a main sequence star like our sun. Science fiction writers know better - and now astronomers are rethinking past work.


(Our sun as a red giant)

American astrophysicist William Danchi, and French colleagues Bruno Lopez and Jean Scheider, argue that the search for planets should not be limited to main sequence stars like our sun. The main sequence is only the first stable period of our sun's life; when it begins to burn its hydrogen around a growing helium core it offers another period of several billion years of stability. Finally, stars that have the right mass eventually become red giants; the temperature of the star's core increases as it shrinks, but the outer layers expand and cool. The "habitable zone" of a red giant (like the sun will be) extends from about 630 million miles to 2 billion miles.

Danchi, Lopez and Schneider argue that about 150 sub-giant and red giant stars are situated within 100 light years of Earth (compared to about 1,000 main sequence stars). NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder space mission will focus only on main sequence stars. These stars will have habitable planets that are further from their suns, and will therefore be easier to find in the glare of the parent stars.


(Roter Riese)

Science fiction authors have long used red giant stars as a convenient location for alien civilizations; often, it is used to denote the planet of a very ancient and wise civilization. In his 1953 novel Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke describes the planet of the Overlords who came to help Earth through a difficult developmental stage:

This was the supreme moment of his life: now he was to be the first human being ever to look upon a world lit by another sun...

It was cold, though not uncomfortably so. The light from the great red sun low down on the horizon was quite ample for human eyes, but Jan wondered how long it would be before he yearned for greens and blues. Then he saw that enormous, wafer-thin crescent reaching up the sky like a great bow placed beside the sun. He stared at it for a long time before he realized that his journey was not yet altogether ended. That was the world of the Overlords. This must be its satellite, merely the base from which their vessels operated.

Read more at Dying stars could make frozen planets habitable. You might also like Planets May Wander Alone and Massive Planetoids From Beyond The Solar System. If you are concerned that the Earth will no longer lie in the "habitable zone" when our sun becomes a red giant, read what science fiction authors have had to say about moving a planet.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/29/2005)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Interstellar Asteroid Visits Our Solar System
'This asteroid had whirled in from the cold of the interplanetary space...' - Ray Cummings, 1930.

UM Hall Thruster Breaks Records
Someday, we'll see an ion drive used to get to Mars.

Ancient Ocean On Ceres?
'We sailed gently forward, hull down to the asteroid's surface... A little sea was now beneath us.'

Lunatix Lunar Rover Will Accept YOUR Commands!
'The bulldozer moved through the lunar strip mine... ' - Niven and Pournelle, 1981.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Tesla Semi 'Electrotruck' Unveiled
Elon Musk unveils yet another technological marvel.

Watch What People Are Seeing Via Brain Scanning
'had managed to see through the other man's eyes as the other man, all unaware, washed their Zis limousine sixteen hundred meters away...'

Integrated Circuits Printed Right Onto Fabric!
'...a shirt that displayed email on its sleeve.

Interstellar Asteroid Visits Our Solar System
'This asteroid had whirled in from the cold of the interplanetary space...'

PRIMA Bionic Vision Restoration
'The VISOR... was a medical device used in the Federation to aid patients who have suffered loss of eyesight...'

Audi Traffic Jam Pilot Knows If You're Sleeping
'Even here, riding a garbage truck to eternity, the machine watched him...'

UM Hall Thruster Breaks Records
Someday, we'll see an ion drive used to get to Mars.

Ionity Ultra-fast Charging Station Network
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'

VAuth Voice Security Wearable From University of Michigan
'Siri, I gave you a voice command...' 'Yes, but do I know you?'

Ubiquiti FrontRow Camera Records Your Life
Why be choosy? Just upload your whole life to the Internet, and be done with it.

Ancient Ocean On Ceres?
'We sailed gently forward, hull down to the asteroid's surface... A little sea was now beneath us.'

SmileCloud Bubloons Are Custom Clouds
'Spurgle kicked at the letter G... It was a monstrous white thing, ten feet thick, half a city block long...'

Cassie 'Halfbot' Best Half (Lower) Of Humanoid Robot
We can always make it limp along if it gets threatening.

Autonomous Concrete Floor Finishing Robot
Keep those construction site robots coming.

Musk Tweets A Boring Tunnel Pic
'We hit the sub-basement and went at once to the express tubes...'

Shelley.ai AI Terrifies Thanks To Reddit's Nosleep
'How can you compete with IBM?'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.