New super-Earth found
in habitable zone


This is a comparison of  the GJ 667C system and the Solar System. While the distance are to scale, the relative size of the sun and GJ 667C are estimated based on relative mass and the planets of GJ 667C are a rough estimate  based on relative mass. Neither the stars nor planets are sized  to scale with the distance.

 

Planet

Mass
Earth's mass

Distance

Orbital pariod

 

GJ 667Cb

6.0

0.05 AU

7.2 day

GJ 667Cc

4.5

0.28 AU

28.15 days

GJ 667Cd

>10.0

0.54 AU*

75 days

Mercury

0.055

0.38 AU

87.97 days

Venus

0.815

0.72 AU

 224.7 days

Earth

1.00

1.00 AU

365.256 days

*Calculated fron Kepler's 3rd Law and the orbital period.
A super-Earth planet has been found in the habitable zone of the star GJ 667C once again promoting hopes that it is a habitable world but is it really habitable. It orbits the smaller of triple star system being classified as red dwarf star. Called GJ 667Cc this planet orbits slightly closer to ir star than Mercury does to our sun, however the star is so cool that it's in the outer portion of the habitable zone getting about 90% of the energy that the Earth gets from the sun.

There are several problems with the idea that this could be a habitable planet. First of all the planet is 4.5 time the size of the Earth meaning it that would have a surface gravity of at least 2g's meaning that we could never land on it. It also makes land life on and particularly intelligent life highly unlikely regardless of the surface temperature. The main key to whether or not this planet has a surface temperature compatible with liquid water is the make up of its atmosphere. Given its mass this planet is likely to have a thicker atmosphere than the Earth which could actually make it too hot for liquid water and life.

The final killer is that planets this close to their stars tend to be tidal locked with one side always facing the star meaning that one side is backed while the other freezes. While there would a zone in between that would have the right temperature for liquid water, that area would also have extremely high winds making the area hostile to life. The point is that claims that this planet could be habitable are greatly exaggerated. 

 

 

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