On our ongoing quest to provide as much planetary information as is humanly possible (for one lone man!), I’ve added a new section dedicated to the most fascinating habitable planets that we know of. Today is a simple update of the 5 new habitable planets that we’ve added and what we love about each one!
Gliese was disocvered in September 2010 and has recently had its existence confirmed. What makes Gliese-581-g one of the more exciting of the habitable planets is that it is just 20 light years away, a little over 117 trillion miles and has an average temperature that would lie somewhere between -45C to -12C.
Image Credit: ESO/L. Calçada
Gliese 667 Cc
Discovered in April 2012, Gliese 667 Cc is a habitable planet that exists in a triple star system. Temperatures on this planet are likely to be around 30C, however, like Gliese-581-g the planet is tidally locked meaning one hemisphere permanently faces the sun (much like the moon and Earth). As the planet is tidally locked, it is likely that temperatures fluctuate dramatically from one hemisphere to the next and an average temperature much higher than 30C would make the planet inhabitable.
HD 85512 b
This habitable planet was discovered in 2011 and is 36 light years from Earth. HD 85512 b is likely to have an average surface temperature of 24.5C making for a particularly pleasant tropical climate. However, it is possible that HD 85512 b receives almost twice as much radiation from its star than Earth and could result in a reverse greenhouse effect by boiling away its oceans.
GJ 1214 b
GJ 1214 b or Gliese Jahreiss is 40 light years from Earth and was discovered in 2009. Gliese Jahreiss orbits its star 70 times closer than the Earth orbits the sun; the planet is known as a super Earth or ‘gas dwarf’ as it has a mass greater than Earth but less than the gas giants Uranus and Neptune. Research from NASA astronomers suggested that this possible habitable planet had a water vapour concentration between 10% and 50%.
55 Cancri f
55 Cancri f was discovered in 2005 and orbits its sun 45 light years from Earth. This makes 55 Cancri f the first known planet to orbit its star’s habitable zone and also the farthest from Earth. However, data suggests that 55 Cancri f may well be a gas giant composed largely of hydrogen and helium – making it completely uninhabitable.