Printer Friendly

Home away from home.

Call her the galaxy's real-estate agent. Maggie Turnbull, a graduate student in astrophysics at the University of Arizona, is scanning the universe for places that could sustain fife. She's compiled a fist of more than 17,000 stars that might have Earth-like planets orbiting them. "There's always the possibility of something evolving in conditions we wouldn't expect," explains Turnbull.

What "star qualities" does she look for? Using oar solar system as a model, she evaluated each candidate's age (it takes a long time for life to arise on a planet), brightness (bright stars emit deadly ultraviolet radiation), and composition (stars need to contain a certain amount of metal for planets similar to Earth to form nearby).

Next, Turnbull will trim the list to 30 addresses. Those stars will become the focus of the Terrestrial Planet Finder--a future NASA mission that will look around the stars for Earth-like planets. But don't pack your bags for a stellar trip yet. One top candidate, 37 Gem--the 37th brightest star in the constellation Gemini--is 50 light-years (distance light travels in one year, or 6,000,000,000,000 miles) away!

E.T.: If life exists on other planets it might not look like we'd expect, says Maggie Turnbull.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Scholastic, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Physical/Space; search for stars that might support places sustaining life
Author:Kostel, Ken
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 12, 2004
Previous Article:Brrr ... Manatees catch cold.
Next Article:Five-second rule?

Related Articles
Life at other stars: a matter of climate.
Searching for other worlds: a planetary odyssey.
Earths beyond Earth.
New Planets.
Children often forgotten victims of domestic violence.
Planet hunt strikes rock; hot kin of Earth orbits nearby star.
In this issue.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters