Stable Star Gives the Best Chance for Life

One of the biggest news stories of the year was an Earth-sized planet orbiting Gliese 581. Even more importantly, this terrestrial planet is orbiting within the star’s habitable zone, where any water will likely be in liquid form. But it takes more than just water to encourage life, you need a nice, stable star. And according to a new survey, Gliese 581 fits the bill there too.

The survey was done by Canada’s MOST telescope, nicknamed the Humble Space Telescope. It’s a suitcase-sized space observatory with the ability to watch for changes in brightness with incredible sensitivity. MOST focused on Gliese 581 for 6 weeks, watching for any flareups, or drops in light.

According to University of British Columbia researcher, Jaymie Matthews, the brightness of the star only changed a few tenths of a percent during their observations. That means its radiation output remains very stable over time.

So, Gliese 581c has the possibility of liquid water and stable warming from the star. Good news for potential life on this distant planet.

Original Source: UBC News Release