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 ")

Make Space Tools On The Spot (Like Moties)
'A moment ago it was squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon...' - Niven and Pournelle, 1974.

Bacteria Behave Differently In Space
'The Republic struggled to control its Sours...' - Bruce Sterling, 1985.

SpaceX Spacesuit Design Transmitted By Elon Musk
Welcome, SpaceX, to the club of space suit imaginers and makers.

Will A Steel Umbrella Stop Russia?
'Everyone was aware that the damned platform was wandering around in its own orbit...' - EB White, 1950.

 

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

Biggest HiSeas 'Mars Mission' Problem? No Internet
I think sf writers have this covered!

Clever Electric Truck Generates More Power Than It Uses
Better than a fictional electrotruck!

Eden-ISS, Greenhouse In Antarctica
'With this kind of light we could get the gardens going again."

Make Space Tools On The Spot (Like Moties)
'A moment ago it was squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon...'

Will Robots Be Moral If We Raise Them Like Our Children?
'The birth of Machine, my robot child...'

Foldable Galaxy Phones, I Swear They're Coming (Maybe)
How hard can it be?

Bacteria Behave Differently In Space
'The Republic struggled to control its Sours...'

Brain Connected To Internet - ‘Brainternet'
Fascinating!

Artificial Spider Silk
You can also use it to make a roof - on an asteroid.

MIT Tunes Ions For Frictionless Surface - Superlubricity!
'My telelubricator here neutralizes the interatomic bonds the surface of any solid...'

Seiko Astron Always Knows Your Time Zone
'Harrington glanced at his wrist watch - a bulky affair - and whistled.'

Robot Buddhist Priest Chants, Drums
'He crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth...'

Koniku Kore, Mouse Brain-Based Chip, Detects Explosives
'As a matter of fact, this mouse is going to keep on thinking forever.'

CNH Industrial Autonomous Tractor Concept Video
'...the tiny red glints of self-guided tractors.'

The Neuroon Open Sleep Tracker For Lucid Dreaming
'Leads trail away from insertion points on her face and wrist... to a lucid dreamer on the bedside shelf.'

Siri Now Smoother, Perkier (Thanks, Deep Learning!)
'Good morning, Dr. Chandra. This is Hal.'

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.