12/11/13

Even though making long-term predictions may be tricky at times, some things are just as plain as day. Like the fact that in 5 billion years the sun will enter the red giant stage, by which time the Earth will have become a desiccated, barren desert totally devoid of life as we know it.

This is exactly the reason why scientists are looking for another world where humanity will be able to settle down and continue to prosper. Recently they have spotted a potentially interesting planet, not too far away, where we – or rather future generations of humans – may find a place called home.

Check out: “Super-Earth” Alien Planet May Be Habitable for Life

 

 

Glossary

 

  • constrain – confine, restrain
  • habitable – possible to be inhabited
  • luminous – radiant, shining
  • wobble – move from side to side
  • induce – cause
  • zip – to move with speed or energy
  • pending – while waiting for or anticipating
  • tide – periodic rise and fall of ocean waters
  • tidal locking

 

Think about it

 

Based on the text decide whether the sentences below are true of false. Leave your answers in the comments below!

 

  • It is impossible for HD 40307g to have any continents.
  • Before the discovery of HD 40307g, its parent star had been known to host three other habitable planets.
  • HD 40307g could be more than 10 times as massive as the Earth.
  • The newly discovered world is a rocky one.
  • Currently it is impossible to observe any of the newly discovered planets directly through telescopes.

 

Practice makes perfect

 

In the sentences below replace the phrases in bold with the expressions from the original text. Leave your answers in the comments below!

 

  • The atmosphere and continents shown could be either present or absent according to the discovery team’s observations.
  • Astronomers have found an alien planet that may be able to support life as we know it — and it’s not too far away from Earth in the cosmic scheme of things.
  • The star HD 40307 is a bit smaller and dimmer than our own sun.
  • Rather, HD 40307g probably spins freely just like our planet does, showing each side of itself to the star when the right time comes.
  • Super-Earths have been identified in other stars’ habitable zones before.

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words.

HD 40307g is ___ outermost of the system’s six planets, orbiting ___ an average distance of 56 million miles (90 million kilometers) from the star. (___ comparison, Earth zips around the sun from about 93 million miles, or 150 million km, away.)

The other two newfound exoplanets are probably ___ hot to support life ___ we know it, researchers said. But HD 40307g — which officially remains a “planet candidate” pending confirmation by follow-up studies — sits comfortably ___ the middle of the star’s habitable zone.

Further, HD 40307g’s orbit is distant enough that the planet likely isn’t tidally locked to the star like the moon is ___ Earth, researchers said. Rather, HD 40307g probably rotates freely just like our planet ___, showing each side of itself to the star ___ due course.

The lack of tidal locking “increases its chances ___ actually having Earth-like conditions,” Tuomi said.


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