Habitable moons in our galaxy may be more than the planet




The popular film “Avatar” in 2009 showed a fabulous view of the green paradise planet called Pandora, which revolved around a huge yupiteropodobnoy planet. Let’s discuss this issue from the point of view of modern science.

As far as I know, the idea of ​​a habitable moon in modern cinema was first introduced in “Star Wars” in 1977. Forest moon of Endor – shelter rebels – revolved around a red gas giant.

The idea was new even to the moment when the reality is not caught up with science fiction, and we did not detect planets orbiting other stars . In particular, the astronomers discovered gas worlds, which are located within the potentially habitable zones of their stars, where temperatures should be mild enough to ensure that the water retained in liquid form. No one plans to seek continents on these gas giants. But any moons orbiting them, may be large enough to hold an atmosphere and cherish life.

Satellite systems of Jupiter and Saturn are two different examples of what can be found throughout the galaxy.

On the cold distance of 778 million kilometers from the Sun, Jupiter holds four large moons, which by themselves are lifeless, but geologically very diverse. Two of them, Europa and Ganymede, unfrozen water in the worlds, if they take a distance from the Earth to the Sun.

The bulk of the system is stored on the moons of Saturn moon Titan, cold world that is larger than Mercury in size. The surface temperature on Titan – minus three Fahrenheit, and the world is remarkably similar to Earth, with its lakes, streams, dense atmosphere and volcanic activity.

The project HEK (Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler) – «hunting ekzoluny with Kepler” – from Harvard University is using Kepler data obtained about 3,000 exoplanets, which may have interesting our satellites. Any of the moons gravity invisible tightened to the planet that would influence the passage of the planet in front of a star. If the largest moon passes in front of or behind the planet, it will cause any unusual changes in the brightness of stars.

In the last work of René Heller Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam, Germany, and Rory Barnes of the University of Washington in Seattle, pointed to two extrasolar planets that are good candidates for having inhabited ekzolunami.

One of them, KOI211.01, with a mass of one third of the size of Jupiter and the Earth revolves around the Sun-like star. Other – Kepler 22b, located 600 light years from us. This candidate can be called a mini-Uranus or super-Earths with a weight of six Earth masses. The planet can be a big ball of water enclosed in a stone shell. HEK project found no moons with masses above the half of the earth that would spin around the planet. (Titanium weighs 1/100 of the mass of the earth).

Ekzoluny likely will cause tidal effects on the planet as well as our Moon, one side always facing the Earth. Days will last half of the orbital period. Times of the year will depend on the inclination of the axis of the elliptical orbit of the moon and the planets in relation to the parent star. Eclipse of the parent star will occur frequently, which can lead to sudden changes in the weather on the moon. Life could synchronize their biorhythms with these eclipses as well as some organisms on Earth follow the phases of the lunar cycle.

Live next to a giant gas planet, most likely, it is difficult, and this, in turn, will prevent the birth of life, scientists say. If the moon is too close to the planet, tidal forces will heat up very her, and she will be covered volcanoes. A striking example – Jupiter’s moon Io.

Wet moon with a thick atmosphere will suffer from the greenhouse effect. Water vapor in combination with other greenhouse gases, such as methane and carbon dioxide, can make the moon is extremely hot (what happened with us with Venus). The closer the moon to its gas giant, the greater the radiation generated by the stellar light reflected from the planet, it will absorb.

But when the moon will be farther outside of the magnetic fields of planets, they will be vulnerable to the galactic cosmic rays, and too small to generate its own protective field. The radiation can sterilize life on the surface.

By analogy with potentially circumstellar habitable zone is defined circumstances okoloplanetarnuyu “inhabited border,” the researchers said. They came to the conclusion that if an exoplanet will circle the moon at a distance of more than 10 planetary radii, it may well be habitable.

To characterize such moon, obviously, are much more difficult than finding a potentially habitable planet. A statistically these moons may be greater than the potentially habitable planets (gas giants as more than a “second land”). Therefore, even if the galaxy may be more habitable moons than planets, their detection becomes difficult task for telescopes or perhaps the distant future spaceships .
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Tags: galaxy , solar system , Ekzoluny , Exoplanets .


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