Artist Conceptions of Extrasolar Planet Gliese 581 c
© 2007 by Don Dixon/ posted 5/4/07 Cosmographica Home



As we approach the planet Gliese 851c, its parent star looms nearly a dozen times bigger than our sun appears from Earth. An inner planet about as big as Neptune transits the solar disk, close enough to show significant detail without a telescope.

FLATFILE blog post on Gliese 581c

If the planet is tidally locked, with the same face turned permanently toward its sun, any ocean near the subsolar point would likely simmer under a perpetual haze of steam. Weather patterns might tend to radiate from this equatorial teakettle.
The "Twilight Zone" near the boundary between day and night might afford a temperate climate. The sun would be fixed in place near the horizon, however, and plants might tend to grow in waves, struggling for sunlight, with fallow regions in the shadowlands between crests of forest vegetation.
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A short animation featuring
visualizations of Gliese 581 c

Gliese 581 Planetary System Data

Planet Name Semimajor Axis (AU) Eccentricity Orbital Period (days) Minimum Mass (ME)
Gl 581 b 0.041 0.02 5.36 15.7
Gl 581 c 0.073 0.16 12.93 5.03
Gl 581 d 0.25 0.20 83.64 7.7