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The Habitable Zone Essay

2105 words - 9 pages

There are approximately seven billion people living on the Earth right now. Who can picture 1 million people, let alone 7 billion people? Yet the total incomprehension of it does not make the fact any less true. Nobody has ever seen an alien or an organism that has not originated from Earth, yet it does not make the prospect any less valid. Most citizens of Earth cannot imagine living anywhere else but on this blue planet, but that should not make the possibility of it any less real. Space, like the future, is always ahead of us, and no one can predict what it has in store for us or what ideas will be found. Outside of the Earth, life in the universe is not such an inane thought as was once ...view middle of the document...

The opposite would happen if a planet is too far away: there would not be enough heat absorbed and any water on the planet would freeze (“Habitable Planets”). Because of this, the Habitable Zone is also called the “Goldilocks Zone”; the distance needs to be “just right”, not too hot, not too cold (“Goldilocks Zone”).
One habitable planet is not a large percentage of planets, but luckily, distance is not the only variable with the habitable zone. The luminosity of the star plays a role on the length of the HZ. With more light comes more heat. The more luminosity a stars emits the larger that star’s HZ will be (Palmer). As well as luminosity, another variable is time. As times ticks by, a star’s luminosity increases, and as it increases the margins of the zone will expand. That means that sometime in the sun’s distant past, Venus was in the habitable zone when Earth was not (Lissauer). However, with the Greenhouse Effect, a planet with a plentiful hydrogen atmosphere might be able to extent its HZ. Hydrogen, a greenhouse gas, would be able to absorb heat and extend the HZ up to fifteen astronomical units (AU). Though the range extended would depend on the type of host star. (Redd “Greenhouse Effect”).
Just like the beloved host star, our Earth also has variables that affects the availability of life. One would be the greenhouse effect. Said effect talks about greenhouse gases with some examples being water vapor, CO2, CH4, ozone, and N2O (“Greenhouse Effect”). These gases, located as molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere, absorb mirrored heat from the sun during the day. If these gases were not there, then the temperature after nightfall would always be subzero. Defined as albedo, the amount of sunlight reflected varies depending on the location in question. If the surfaces is light and pale, like a snowcap, then little heat is absorbed, but with dark soil, like in tropical paradises, then abundances of sunlight are soaked(“Greenhouse Effect).
At a distance of one astronomical unit, the Earth is the fifth planet from the size. When compared to Pluto, the Earth is large, but when associated with Jupiter, the Earth cowers in the wake of this ginormous gas planet. Unlike its mediocre size, Earth’s properties are unique among planets and Earth holds the distinction of being the only planet able to sustain life. Thanks to Earth’s atmosphere of mainly nitrogen, seventy-eight percent, and oxygen, twenty-one percent, aerobic organisms, like all humans, are provided with air. The Earth also has water, and lots of it. Out of all the land on Earth, only about thirty percent is not water (Burdick). Most features of Earth are water based: rain, fog, snow, glaciers, floods, and more (“Water and Climate”). Consuming water is compulsory for life. As humans and other mammals cannot perform photosynthesis, we consume other beings. Those other beings, as we are, are sustained by water, as you very well already know.
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