Friday, October 1, 2010
In keeping with not only our exopoplanet theme but red dwarfs named "Gliese", the above is an artists depiction of a sunrise on a planet known as Gliese 876d, the third planet discovered orbiting the red dwarf Gliese 876- located fifteen light years away in the constellation of Aquarius. The rest of the text in this article as well as the image, comes directly from NASA's " Astronomy Picture of the Day" website.
Illustration Credit & Copyright: Inga Nielsen (Hamburg Obs., Gate to Nowhere)
Explanation: On planet Gliese 876d, sunrises might be dangerous. Although nobody really knows what conditions are like on this close-in planet orbiting variable red dwarf star Gliese 876, the above artistic illustration gives one impression. With an orbit well inside Mercury and a mass several times that of Earth, Gliese 876d might rotate so slowly that dramatic differences exist between night and day. Gliese 876d is imagined above showing significant volcanism, possibly caused by gravitational tides flexing and internally heating the planet, and possibly more volatile during the day. The rising red dwarf star shows expected stellar magnetic activity which includes dramatic and violent prominences. In the sky above, a hypothetical moon has its thin atmosphere blown away by the red dwarf's stellar wind. Gliese 876d excites the imagination partly because it is one of the few extrasolar planets known to be close to the habitable zone of its parent star.