Gliese 581

Gliese 581
Gliese 581
Gliese 581.jpg
The star Gliese 581.
Digitized Sky Survey photo.
Observation data
Epoch J2000.0      Equinox J2000.0 (ICRS)
Constellation Libra
Right ascension 15h 19m 26.8250s[1]
Declination −07° 43′ 20.209″[1]
Apparent magnitude (V) 10.56 to 10.58a
Spectral type M3V[2]
B−V color index 1.61[1]
Variable type BYb
Radial velocity (Rv) −9.5 ± 0.5[1] km/s
Proper motion (μ) RA: −1233.51[3] mas/yr
Dec.: −94.52[3] mas/yr
Parallax (π) 160.91 ± 2.62[3] mas
Distance 20.3 ± 0.3 ly
(6.2 ± 0.1 pc)
Absolute magnitude (MV) 11.6[4]
Mass 0.31[5] M
Radius 0.29[2] R
Surface gravity (log g) 4.92±0.10[6]
Luminosity (bolometric) 0.013[2] L
Temperature 3,480 ± 48[6] K
Metallicity [M/H] = −0.33 ± 0.12[6]
Age 7 to 11[5][7] Gyr
Other designations
HO Librae, HO Lib, BD−07°4003, GJ 581, HIP 74995, LFT 1195, LHS 394, LPM 564, LTT 6112, NLTT 39886, TYC 5594-1093-1, Wolf 562.[1][8]
Database references

Gliese 581 (pronounced /ˈɡliːzə/ and first catalogued as BD-07° 4003) is a red dwarf star with spectral type M3V, located 20.3 light years away from Earth in the constellation Libra. Its estimated mass is about a third of that of the Sun, and it is the 89th[9] closest known star system to the Sun. Observations suggest that the star has at least four, and possibly five, planets: Gliese 581 e, b, c,d and f (unconfirmed). g was thought to also exist and be a candidate for habitability, however recent observations by HARPS in 2011 have denied its existence. [10]

Gliese 581 has been the subject of a "huge amount of attention"[11] in the quest to discover the first habitable planet; in 2010, attention focused on unconfirmed planet g, which would have been close to the middle of the star's habitable zone,[12][13] but more recently, in a study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, planet d "can be considered the first confirmed exoplanet that could support Earth-like life."[11]

The star system first gained attention after Gliese 581 c, the first low-mass extrasolar planet found to be near its star's habitable zone, was discovered in April 2007. It has since been shown that under known terrestrial planet climate models, Gliese 581 c is likely to have a runaway greenhouse effect, and hence is probably too hot to be habitable, analogous to Venus. A subsequently discovered planet Gliese 581 d, may be just inside or just outside the outer boundary of the habitable zone (depending in part on the greenhouse properties of its atmosphere), analogous to Mars.[13] The discovery of exoplanet Gliese 581 e,[14] the least-massive planet known around a normal star, was announced in April 2009.

Excitement spiked again in September 2010 with the claimed discovery of Gliese 581 g, orbiting between c and d, believed to be the planet with the greatest likelihood of having conditions suitable for liquid water at its surface found to date because it is within the middle of the habitable zone.[15] However, its existence was later put in "serious doubts" following further analysis.[11]



The name Gliese 581 refers to the catalog number from the 1957 survey Gliese Catalogue of Nearby Stars of 965 stars located within 20 parsecs of the Earth. Other names of this star include BD-07° 4003 (BD catalogue, first known publication) and HO Librae (variable star designation). It does not have an individual name such as Sirius or Procyon.[1][8] The star is a red dwarf with spectral type M3V, located 20.3 light-years away from Earth. It is located about two degrees north of Beta Librae, the brightest star in the constellation Libra. Its mass is estimated to be approximately a third that of the Sun, and it is the 89th closest known star system to the Sun.[9]

Size of the Sun (left) and Gliese 581 (right).

An M-class dwarf star such as Gliese 581 has a much lower mass than the Sun, causing the core region of the star to fuse hydrogen at a significantly lower rate. From the apparent magnitude and distance, we can estimate an effective temperature of 3200 kelvins and a visual luminosity of 0.2% of that of the Sun.[16] However, a red dwarf such as Gliese 581 radiates primarily in the near infrared, with peak emission at a wavelength of roughly 830 nanometres (estimated using Wien's displacement law, which assumes the star radiates as a black body), so such an estimate will underestimate the star's total luminosity. (For comparison, the peak emission of the Sun is roughly 530 nanometres, in the middle of the visible part of the spectrum). When radiation over the entire spectrum is taken into account (not just the part that humans are able to see), something known as the bolometric correction, this star has a bolometric luminosity 1.3% of the Sun's total luminosity.[2][16] A planet would need to be situated much closer to this star in order to receive a comparable amount of energy as the Earth. The region of space around a star where a planet would receive roughly the same energy as the Earth is sometimes termed the "Goldilocks Zone", or, more prosaically, the habitable zone. The extent of such a zone is not fixed and is highly specific for each planetary system.[17]

Gliese 581 is classified as a variable star of the BY Draconis type, and has been given the variable star designation HO Librae. This is a star that exhibits variability because of the presence of star spots combined with the rotation of the star. However, the measured variability is close to the margin of error, and, if real, is most likely a long term variability. Gliese 581 emits X-rays.[18]

Planetary system

At least four and possibly six planets are believed to be orbiting Gliese 581. Gliese 581 b, approximately Neptune-sized, was discovered in August 2005 and was the fifth planet to be discovered around a red dwarf star. This inner planet is at least 16 times as massive as Earth (similar to Neptune's mass) and completes a full orbit of Gliese 581 in only 5.4 days.[2]

The habitable zone of Gliese 581 compared with our Solar System's habitable zone.

Another planet, Gliese 581 c, was discovered in April 2007.[16] In their 2007 paper, Udry et al. asserted that if Gliese 581 c has an Earth-type composition, it would have a radius of 1.5R, which would have made it at the time "the most Earth-like of all known exoplanets".[16]

A direct measurement of the radius cannot be taken because, viewed from Earth, the planet does not transit its sun. With a minimum mass of roughly five times Earth—or one third that of Neptune—Gliese 581 c orbits just inside of the habitable zone of its parent star.[19] The mean blackbody surface temperature has been estimated to lie between −3 °C (for a Venus-like albedo) and 40 °C (for an Earth-like albedo),[16] however, the temperatures could be much higher (about 500 degrees Celsius) due to a runaway greenhouse effect akin to that of Venus.[20] Some astronomers believe the system may have undergone planetary migration and Gliese 581 c may have formed beyond the frost line, with a composition similar to icy bodies like Ganymede. Gliese 581 c completes a full orbit in just under 13 days.[16]

Observations of the star also revealed a third planet, Gliese 581 d, with a mass of roughly 7 Earths, or half a Uranus, and an orbit of 66.8 Earth days.[16][21][22] It orbits just within the outer limit of the habitable zone of its star, which makes it a potential candidate for being able to support life.[14][20] (A reanalysis of the radial velocity data has reduced the minimum possible mass of this planet from 7.1 M to 5.6 M.[23][contradictory])

4-planet solution (2009)

2009 solution with elliptical orbits for c and d

Discovery of a fourth planet, Gliese 581 e, was announced on 21 April 2009. This planet, at an estimated minimum mass of 1.9 Earths, is currently the lowest mass exoplanet identified around a "normal star" (i.e. excluding pulsars). It takes 3.15 days to orbit Gliese 581.[14][22]

Dynamical simulations of the Gliese 581 system assuming that the orbits of planets b to d are coplanar show that the system becomes unstable if its component masses are more than 1.6 – 2 times the minimum mass. The upper limits on the masses of the planets are found to be 3.1, 30.4, 10.4 and 13.8 Earth masses for planets e, b, c and d respectively.[14]

The Gliese 581 system[14]
(in order from star)
Mass Semimajor axis
Orbital period
e 1.94 – 3.1 M 0.03 3.14942 ± 0.00045 0
b 15.65 – 30.4 M 0.04 5.36874 ± 0.00019 0
c 5.36 – 10.4 M 0.07 12.9292 ± 0.0047 0.17 ± 0.07
d 7.09 – 13.8 M 0.22 66.80 ± 0.14 0.38 ± 0.09

6-planet solution (2010)

2010 solution, with circular orbits.
A National Science Foundation graphic comparing to our solar system, with f just outside the orbit of Venus

On 29 September 2010, astronomers at Keck Observatory announced the discovery of Gliese 581 f and Gliese 581 g, both in nearly circular orbits. The detection was based on analysis of a combination of data sets from the HIRES and HARPS instruments. Nicknamed Zarmina by one of its discoverers,[24] Gliese 581 g has a mass of 3 to 4 Earth-masses, with an orbital period of 37 days, and is at a distance from Gliese 581 that is well within the star's habitable zone. The planet is predicted to be tidally locked, with one side of the planet always facing the star.[13][25]

The approximate ratios of periods of adjacent orbits are (proceeding outward): 3:5, 2:5, 1:3, 1:2, 2:13.

The parameters listed below come from an orbital fit in which eccentricities were fixed at 0. Allowing eccentricities to vary did not significantly improve the fit.[26]

According to a presentation by F. Pepe at IAU Symposium 276, planet g was not detected in a new analysis of data taken by the HARPS spectrograph,[27] and both planets f and g are listed as unconfirmed at the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia.[28] Follow up studies published in September 2011 indicate that Gliese f and g do not exist. [29]

The Gliese 581 system[13]
(in order from star)
Mass Semimajor axis
Orbital period
e ≥1.7 M 0.0284533 ± 0.0000023 3.14867 ± 0.00039 0
b ≥15.6 M 0.0406163 ± 0.0000013 5.36841 ± 0.00026 0
c ≥5.6 M 0.072993 ± 0.000022 12.9191 ± 0.0058 0
g ≥3.1 M 0.14601 ± 0.00014 36.562 ± 0.052 0
d ≥5.6 M 0.21847 ± 0.00028 66.87 ± 0.13 0
f ≥7.0 M 0.758 ± 0.015 433 ± 13 0

Radio signal sent from Earth

A Message From Earth (AMFE) is a high-powered digital radio signal that was sent on 9 October 2008 toward Gliese 581 c. The signal is a digital time capsule containing 501 messages that were selected through a competition on the social networking site Bebo. The message was sent using the RT-70 radar telescope of Ukraine's National Space Agency. The signal will reach Gliese 581 in early 2029.

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f GJ 581 , SIMBAD. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
  2. ^ a b c d e Bonfils, X.; et al. (2005). "The HARPS search for southern extra-solar planets VI: A Neptune-mass planet around the nearby M dwarf Gl 581". Astronomy and Astrophysics Letters 443 (3): L15–L18. arXiv:astro-ph/0509211. Bibcode 2005A&A...443L..15B. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:200500193. 
  3. ^ a b c van Leeuwen, F. (2007). "HIP 74995". Hipparcos, the New Reduction. Centre de données astronomiques de Strasbourg. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  4. ^ From apparent magnitude and parallax.
  5. ^ a b "Star: Gl 581". Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia. "Mass 0.31 Msun, Age 8+3
  6. ^ a b c Bean, J. L; Benedict, G. F.; Endl, M. (2006). "Metallicities of M Dwarf Planet Hosts from Spectral Synthesis". Astrophysical Journal Letters 653 (1): L65–L68. arXiv:astro-ph/0611060. Bibcode 2006ApJ...653L..65B. doi:10.1086/510527. 
  7. ^ Selsis 3.4 page 1382 "lower limit of the age that, considering the associated uncertainties, could be around 7 Gyr", "preliminary estimate", "should not be above 10-11 Gyr"
  8. ^ a b "Entry 5594-1093-1". The Hipparcos and Tycho Catalogues. Centre de données astronomiques de Strasbourg. ID I/239. 
  9. ^ a b "The One Hundred Nearest Star Systems". Research Consortium on Nearby Stars, Georgia State University. 1 January 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-04. 
  10. ^ "Fifty New Exoplanets Discovered by HARPS". ESO. 12 Sept 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-13. 
  11. ^ a b c "First Habitable Exoplanet? Climate Simulation Reveals New Candidate That Could Support Earth-Like Life". ScienceDaily. 16 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-16. 
  12. ^ "Newly Discovered Planet May Be First Truly Habitable Exoplanet". ScienceDaily. 29 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  13. ^ a b c d Vogt, S. S.; et al. (2010). "The Lick-Carnegie Exoplanet Survey: A 3.1 M_Earth Planet in the Habitable Zone of the Nearby M3V Star Gliese 581". arXiv:1009.5733 [astro-ph.EP]. 
  14. ^ a b c d e Mayor, M.; et al. (2009). "The HARPS search for southern extra-solar planets XVIII: An Earth-mass planet in the GJ 581 planetary system". Astronomy and Astrophysics 507: 487. Bibcode 2009A&A...507..487M. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/200912172. 
  15. ^ "US scientists find potentially habitable planet near Earth". Yahoo News. 29 September 2010.;_ylt=Aq4ko85KMGYF.3DywUUJwFpxieAA;_ylu=X3oDMTE1dWlyZm04BHBvcwMxBHNlYwN5bi1jaGFubmVsBHNsawN1c3NjaWVudGlzdHM-. Retrieved 2010-09-30. [dead link]
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Udry, S; et al. (2007). "The HARPS search for southern extra-solar planets XI: Super-Earths (5 and 8 M) in a 3-planet system". Astronomy and Astrophysics Letters 469 (3): L43–L47. Bibcode 2007A&A...469L..43U. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20077612. 
  17. ^ Selsis, F.; et al. (2007). "Habitable planets around the star Gl 581?". Astronomy and Astrophysics 476 (3): 1373–1387. Bibcode 2007A&A...476.1373S. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20078091. 
  18. ^ Schmitt, J. H. M. M; Fleming, T. A; Giampapa, M. S. (1995). "The X-Ray View of the Low-Mass Stars in the Solar Neighborhood". Astrophysical Journal 450 (9): 392–400. Bibcode 1995ApJ...450..392S. doi:10.1086/176149. 
  19. ^ von Bloh, W.; et al. (2008). "Habitability of Super-Earths: Gliese 581c & 581d". Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union 3 (S249): 503–506. arXiv:0712.3219. doi:10.1017/S1743921308017031. 
  20. ^ a b von Bloh, W.; et al. (2007). "The Habitability of Super-Earths in Gliese 581". Astronomy and Astrophysics (Astronomy & Astrophysics) 476 (3): 1365–1371. Bibcode 2007A&A...476.1365V. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20077939. 
  21. ^ "New 'super-Earth' found in space". BBC News. 25 April 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  22. ^ a b Rincon, P.; Amos, J. (21 April 2009). "Lightest exoplanet is discovered". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
  23. ^ p. 29, Vogt 2010.
  24. ^ "The astrophysicist who discovered Zarmina describes life on "second Earth"". 1 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  25. ^ "Keck Observatory discovers the first Goldilocks exoplanet" (Press release). Keck Observatory. 29 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  26. ^ pp. 15, 24, Vogt 2010.
  27. ^ Ron Cowen (October 13, 2010). "Existence of habitable exoplanet questioned". Science News. Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  28. ^ "Notes for star Gl 581". The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  29. ^ "Only 4 planets in the Gl~581 system". arXiv. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  30. ^ Lopez-Morales, M.; et al. (2006). "Limits to Transits of the Neptune-mass planet orbiting Gl 581". Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 118 (849): 1506–1509. arXiv:astro-ph/0609255. Bibcode 2006PASP..118.1506L. doi:10.1086/508904. "V* HO Lib ... BY Draconis"  (page 2 of pre-print submitted 9 September 2006)
  31. ^ "General Catalogue of Variable Stars Query results". Sternberg Astronomical Institute. Retrieved 2009-04-27. 
  32. ^ Weis, E. W. (1994). "Long term variability in dwarf M stars". American Astronomical Society 107 (3): 1138. Bibcode 1994AJ....107.1135W. doi:10.1086/116925. 
  33. ^ Bonfils page L15
  34. ^ Matthews, J. M.; et al. (2007). "MOST Exoplanet System Photometry". pp. 80. Retrieved 2009-04-27. 

External links

Coordinates: Sky map 15h 19m 26s, −07° 43′ 20″

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  • Gliese 581 — Données d observation (Époque J2000.0) Ascension droite 15h 19m 26.8250s Déclinaison 07° 43′ 20.209″ …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gliese 581 c — Taille comparée de Gliese 581 c avec la Terre et Neptune selon différents modèles de composition. Du plus petit au plus grand rayon : modèle de planète métallique pure, type tellurique à 67 % Fe, 32,5 % MgSiO3, aqueuse à 75 %… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gliese 581 C — Vue d artiste de Gliese 581 c, d après l hypothèse de la planète océan. Étoile Nom Gliese 581 Ascension droite …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gliese 581 — Datos de observación (Época J2000.0) Constelación Libra …   Wikipedia Español

  • Gliese 581 g — système de Gliese 581 (Image de la NSF) Étoile Nom Gliese 581 Ascension droite …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gliese 581 b — Comparaison du système planétaire de Gliese 581 avec le Système solaire. Étoile Nom Gliese 581 Ascension droite …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gliese 581 c — Concepción artística de Gliese 581 c, como un planeta rocoso. vida Descubrimiento Descubridor Stephane Udry …   Wikipedia Español

  • Gliese 581 g — Una concepción artística del sistema Gliese 581 comparado con el sistema solar. Descubrimiento Descubridor …   Wikipedia Español

  • Gliese 581 d — Comparaison du système planétaire de Gliese 581 avec le Système solaire. Étoile Nom Gliese 581 Ascension droite …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gliese 581 e — Vue d artiste de Gliese 581 e Étoile Nom Gliese 581 Ascension droite 15h 19m 26s Déclinaison 07°  …   Wikipédia en Français