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Nov-29-2010 18:24printcomments

The Greatest Star Discovery

Most of the exoplanets that have been discovered are Jupiter-like gas giants.

Salem-News.com
Courtesy: indyposted.com

(LAGUNA BEACH, Calif.) - Perhaps the greatest scientific discovery in the last 15 years has been the identification of planets revolving around stars outside our solar system. Over 500 extrasolar planets or exoplanets have been discovered orbiting nearby stars. Virtually everywhere astronomers look carefully at nearby stars, planets are observed. Some stars have only one planet while other stars harbor multiple planets. The evidence is now mounting that when a star forms a solar system also forms.

Astronomers have also discovered that almost any kind of star that forms out of the massive clouds of nebular gas scattered throughout the universe may also form with a planet. When Stars emerge from their nebular wombs they tend to come in seven types according to mass, surface temperature, color, and brightness. These seven types of stars are known as Main Sequence Stars. Star types O, B, and A are blue, blue-white, and white in color. Type O-B-A stars tend to be hot, bright, and much more massive than our sun. Star types O-B-A also have short life spans because they are so hot they burn up their nuclear fuel quickly and die away usually within a few hundred million years. Stars that are designated F, G, and K are about the same mass and surface temperature of our sun and come in yellow-white, yellow, and orange colors. Our sun is a G type star. Star types F-G-K burn their nuclear fuel slowly. The last type of stars are known as type M stars. Type M stars are cool in temperature, red in color, and much less massive than our sun but longer lived.

In the search for exoplanets, the holy grail for astronomers is to find an Earth-like planet. Every star has a “Habitable Zone” where it is possible for liquid water to exist. Venus, Earth, and Mars occupy the habitable zone for our sun but only Earth has liquid water flowing freely on it's surface .

Where liquid water can exist in the habitable zone, life can also evolve. Since it takes billions of years for life to evolve, to find an Earth-like planet where life may exist, intelligent or not, astronomers look toward F-G-K-M type stars because those stars have a 10 billion year and longer life spans. Plenty of time for evolution to do it’s thing. Most of the exoplanets that have been discovered are Jupiter-like gas giants. A few of the newly discovered exoplanets are Earth-like rocky planets except that these rocky planets are two, three, four or more times more massive than Earth. Astronomers have dubbed these massive rocky exoplanets as "Super Earths!"

Four planets have been discovered orbiting the Type M star Gliese 581. The Super Earth exoplanet Gliese 581d is about seven times more massive than the Earth. Gliese 581d orbits within it’s star habitable zone and surprisingly 581d may be covered with an ocean!

With the discovery of exoplanets within our Milky Way Galaxy, is it possible that exoplanets orbit stars in other galaxies? Recently The European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile announced the discovery of a exoplanet orbiting a 10 billion year old star which migrated into our Milky Way Galaxy from another nearby galaxy. The ESO discovery is further evidence that planet formation is more common than once thought.

Serious scientists around the world agree the discovery of exoplanets is an astounding achievement. So why is the big corporate lame stream news media ignoring this story? Could big media be ignoring the discovery of exoplanets because of it's religious implications?....hmmmmmm?

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Tyrone Borelli, a resident of Laguna Beach for the past 27 years, is a retired high school physics and earth science teacher. He started teaching back in 1973. Tyrone's first high school teaching job was at George Washington High School with the Department of Education in Guam. He later taught math in San Marcos, Texas for several years, and finished his teaching career at Santa Ana Valley High School where he taught GATE and AP Physics and GATE Earth Science for 23 years. You can write to T.C. Borelli at: alty53@cox.net




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