What is the significance of the Gliese 581 star system?  

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First cataloged in 1957, Gliese 581 is a red dwarf star in the Libra constellation. While the star itself is ordinary, it is notable for having three possibly habitable planets in its system.

Because of the extreme heat of stars, planets must be within a certain distance to have liquid water without overheating the surface. As a red dwarf, Gliese 581 is cooler than our sun, and so its habitable zone is closer. Three planets in its system fall inside that zone, Gliese 581 c, Gliese 581 g, and Gliese 581 d. G-581-c and G-581-d are both on the edges of the habitable zone, and so might be too hot and too cold respectively. G-581-g, however, is in the center of the zone, and so is precisely where it needs to be for liquid surface water, which is the basic organic need for the evolution of carbon-based life.

Because it is reasonably close to our own system, and because of the potential for life -- even complex life -- to have evolved in its system, Earth scientists sent a radio message which will arrive in 2029. If there is complex, radio-using life in that system, they may be able to respond in another twenty years, which would be the milestone event of First Contact with an extraterrestrial species.

astrosonuthird | Student

Gliese c,g and d orbit gliese 581.


Thanks for your question

astrosonu | Student

Hello!Gliese 581 is a red giant which have mass 20 times more than our sun. The significance is scientists say that planet g and planet d which orbit gleise 581 could support life which was said in 2010. But now its existence remains in dispute.



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