A. Whether life could exist outside a star’s habitable zone
B. Techniques used by researchers to detect exoplanets
C. Exoplanets that share certain characteristics with Earth
D. Characteristics of several recently discovered red dwarf stars
NARRATOR:Listen to part of a lecture in an astronomy class.
MALE PROFESSOR:OK, we've been discussing the planets in our solar system, and how some of the ones farthest from the Sun were discovered.Well, today I'd like to turn to what are called exoplanets, and how researchers detect them. Maria?
FEMALE STUDENT:Exoplanets are planets that orbit around a star other than our Sun, right? They're not in our solar system...
MALE PROFESSOR:Right. They have different, what're called host stars.[excitedly] The study of exoplanets has been getting more and more exciting; hundreds of them have been discovered so far.This is quite remarkable in view of the fact that the discovery of the first exoplanets was confirmed only in the mid-1990s.Now we're finding new ones every few weeks or so.
FEMALE STUDENT:[hesitantly] So, uh-exactly why are we interested in these exoplanets, anyway? Is it to see if there's life on them? 'Because it seems to me like the only exoplanets we ever hear about are gas giants, like Jupiter and Saturn, that couldn't possibly support carbon-based life....
MALE PROFESSOR:OK, well, let's talk about that.First, as for discovering life... wellll, I think that sort of discovery is pretty far in the future, but it is an eventual goal.For now, the focus is on locating planets within a host star's so-called [slowly] habitable zone, a zone that's a certain distance from its star.Because only planets within this zone could conceivably support carbon-based life.[leading] So what would such a planet need?
FEMALE STUDENT:Yes, it'd need to be the right temperature to sustain liquid water.
MALE STUDENT:And it would need to be a rocky planet....I mean, as opposed to a gas giant....
MALE PROFESSOR:OK, good. An Earth-like planet.Now, as to that, there are some recently detected exoplanets that might actually be Earth-like.For example, there's a red dwarf star-that's what most stars are-uh, that's called Gliese 581.
Gliese 581 is... well, it's a lot more interesting than that name makes it seem.This host star is considered a near neighbor of our solar system because it's only about twenty light-years away.That's pretty close, by astronomical standards.And being a red dwarf star, it's small and relatively cool, at least compared with the Sun.And researchers have discovered planets orbiting Gliese 581.These exoplanets have been named-ready?-Gliese 581 b, c, d, e... in alphabetical order of their discovery.
Gliese 581d and e are the planets I want to focus on now.See, in 2009 a group of researchers made an announcement: these two exoplanets, Gliese 581d and e, do have some Earth-like qualities.Gliese 581d had actually been discovered a couple of years earlier, and when its orbit was originally calculated, it was thought to be too far away from its host star to be warm enough to support a liquid ocean, let alone carbon-based life.But then its orbit was recalculated, and now we see that Gliese 581d is within its host's habitable zone.
MALE STUDENT:So it might have an ocean?
MALE PROFESSOR:Well, conceivably.See, Gliese 581d weighs seven times what Earth weighs, and it's unlikely that it's made entirely of rocks... because it's so massive.The researchers studying it said that it could have a rocky core; an ice layer; a large, deep ocean; and an atmosphere.
OK, and there was another announcement, along with the recalculated orbit of Gliese 581d.That was the discovery of another planet in the system, Gliese 581e.Compared with other exoplanets, its mass is quite small-only about twice that of Earth's.
FEMALE STUDENT:So is Gliese 581e a more Earth-like planet?
MALE PROFESSOR:Well, we have to consider its orbit.Gliese 581e orbits its host star in a much shorter period of time than the other planets in the system, meaning it's very close to the star.And therefore too hot for water, for an ocean.
However, the fact that it's relatively close to the size of Earth-small, in astronomical terms-that was pretty exciting.It's impressive that we have the technology to detect it. And it bodes well for future research.Who knows what we'll find the more we search?
Gliese 581是......它比它的名字听起来可有趣多了。这个寄主星被认为是我们太阳系的一个近邻，因为它离太阳系只有20光年的距离。按照天文学标准来看非常近了。而且作为一个红色的矮星，它体积很小，相对较凉爽，至少和太阳相比是这样。而且研究人员发现了环绕Gliese 581运行的行星。这些外星星球被命名为......准备好了吗？它们被按照发现顺序以字母顺序命名，分别是Gliese 581 B, C, D, E。
Gliese 581 D和E是我现在想集中讲的行星。在2009年，一群研究人员发布通告称：这两个外星星球，Gliese 581 D和E确实有一些类地特质。Gliese 581 D实际上是早几年发现的，当最初计算它的轨道时，他们认为它离它的寄主星太远了，没有足够的温度支持一个液态的海洋，更不用说碳基生命了。但是稍后他们重新计算了它的轨道，而我们现在可以看到Gliese 581 D位于它的寄主星的适居带之内。
教授：猜测是这样。你看，Gliese 581 D比地球重7倍，不太可能完全都是由岩石组成的，因为它体积太大了。研究它的研究人员说它可能有一个岩石的地心、一个冰层、一个很大很深的海洋以及大气层。
除了重新测算Gliese 581 D的轨道还有一个公告。那就是在那个星系又发现了另一个行星，Gliese 581 E。和其他的外星星球相比，它的质量很小，只是地球的两倍。
学生：那Gliese 581 E是个和地球更类似的行星吗？
教授：我们得考虑它的轨道。Gliese 581 E 环绕它的寄主星运行的时期比该星系其他行星的要短，也就是说它离恒星非常近。因此太热而不会有水，不会有海洋。