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Gliese 876 b

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Gliese 876 b
Exoplanet List of exoplanets
Parent star
Star Gliese 876
Constellation Aquarius
Right ascension (α) 22h 53m 16.734s[1]
Declination (δ) −14° 15′ 49.32″[1]
Apparent magnitude (mV) 10.15
Distance 15.20±0.01[2] ly
(4.660±0.004[2] pc)
Spectral type M4V
Mass (m) 0.334 (± 0.030) M
Radius (r) 0.36 R
Temperature (T) 3350 (± 300) K
Metallicity [Fe/H] 0.05 (± 0.20)
Age 2.55 (± 2.45) Gyr
Physical characteristics
Mass (m) 2.2756 (± 0.0045)[3][note 1] MJ
Radius (r) ~1.2[citation needed] RJ
Stellar flux (F) 0.33
Temperature (T) 194 K (−79 °C; −110 °F)
Orbital elements
Epoch HJD 2,450,602.093
Semi-major axis (a) 0.208317 ± 0.000020[3] AU
Eccentricity (e) 0.0324 ± 0.0013[3]
Orbital period (P) 61.1166 ± 0.0086[3] d
Inclination (i) 59[3]°
Argument of
(ω) 50.3 ± 3.2[3]°
Mean anomaly (M) 325.7 ± 3.2[3]°
Semi-amplitude (K) 214.00 ± 0.42[3] m/s
Discovery information
Discovery date June 23, 1998
Discoverer(s) California and Carnegie Planet Search Team[4] and independently by the Geneva Extrasolar Planet Search Team[5]
Discovery method Radial velocity
Other detection methods Astrometry
Discovery site Lick, Keck, Haute-Provence and La Silla Observatories[4][5]
Discovery status Published
Database references
Extrasolar Planets
Exoplanet Archive data
Open Exoplanet Catalogue data

Gliese 876 b is an exoplanet orbiting the red dwarf Gliese 876. It completes one orbit in approximately 61 days. Discovered in June 1998, Gliese 876 b was the first planet to be discovered orbiting a red dwarf.

Observation history[edit]

Gliese 876 b was discovered independently by two different teams, one led by Geoffrey Marcy (with data from Keck Observatory and Lick Observatory)[4] and the other by Xavier Delfosse (at Geneva Observatory).[5] Like the majority of known extrasolar planets, it was discovered by detecting variations in its star's radial velocity as a result of the planet's gravity. This was done by making sensitive measurements of the Doppler shift of the spectral lines of Gliese 876. It was the first discovered of four known planets in the Gliese 876 system.[3][4][5][6][7]


Mass, radius, and temperature[edit]

Size comparison
Jupiter Gliese 876 b
Jupiter Exoplanet
An artist's impression of Gliese 876 b as an enormous Jupiter-like planet with a hypothetical satellite system.

Given the planet's high mass, it is likely that Gliese 876 b is a gas giant with no solid surface. Since the planet has only been detected indirectly through its gravitational effects on the star, properties such as its radius, composition, and temperature are unknown. Assuming a composition similar to Jupiter and an environment close to chemical equilibrium, it is predicted that the atmosphere of Gliese 876 b is cloudless, though cooler regions of the planet may be able to form water clouds.[8]

A limitation of the radial velocity method used to detect Gliese 876 b is that only a lower limit on the planet's mass can be obtained. This lower limit is around 1.93 times the mass of Jupiter.[6] The true mass depends on the inclination of the orbit, which in general is unknown. However, because Gliese 876 is only 15 light years from Earth Benedict et al. (2002) were able to use one of the Fine Guidance Sensors on the Hubble Space Telescope to detect the astrometric wobble created by Gliese 876 b.[2] This constituted the first unambiguous astrometric detection of an extrasolar planet.[3] Their analysis suggested that the orbital inclination is 84°±6° (close to edge-on).[2] In the case of Gliese 876 b, modelling the planet-planet interactions from the Laplace resonance shows that the actual inclination of the orbit is 59°, resulting in a true mass of 2.2756 times the mass of Jupiter.[3]

Because it is only 2 times more massive than Jupiter, it should be slightly larger than it, with a radius of around 1.2 RJ.[citation needed]

The equilibrium temperature of Gliese 876 b, is estimated to be around 194 K (−79 °C; −110 °F).[9]

This planet, like c and e, has likely migrated inward.[10]

Host star[edit]

The planet orbits a (M-type) star named Gliese 876. The star has a mass of 0.33 M and a radius of around 0.36 R. It has a surface temperature of 3350 K and is 2.55 billion years old. In comparison, the Sun is about 4.6 billion years old[11] and has a surface temperature of 5778 K.[12]


The orbits of the planets of Gliese 876. Gliese 876 b is the third planet from the star.

Gliese 876 b is in a 1:2:4 Laplace resonance with the inner planet Gliese 876 c and the outer planet Gliese 876 e: in the time it takes planet e to complete one orbit, planet b completes two and planet c completes four. This is the second known example of a Laplace resonance, the first being Jupiter's moons Io, Europa and Ganymede.[3] As a result, the orbital elements of the planets change fairly rapidly as they dynamically interact with one another.[13] The planet's orbit has a low eccentricity, similar to the planets in the Solar System. The semimajor axis of the orbit is only 0.208 AU, less than that of Mercury in the Solar System.[3] However Gliese 876 is such a faint star that this puts it in the outer part of the habitable zone.[14]

Future habitability[edit]

Gliese 876 b currently lies beyond the outer edge of the habitable zone but because Gliese 876 is a slowly evolving main-sequence red dwarf its habitable zone is very slowly moving outwards and will continue to do so for trillions of years. Therefore, Gliese 876 b will, in trillions of years time, lie inside Gliese 876's habitable zone, as defined by the ability of an Earth-mass planet to retain liquid water at its surface, and remain there for at least 4.6 billion years.[15] While the prospects for life on a gas giant are unknown, large moons may be able to support a habitable environment. Models of tidal interactions between a hypothetical moon, the planet and the star suggest that large moons should be able to survive in orbit around Gliese 876 b for the lifetime of the system.[16] On the other hand, it is unclear whether such moons could form in the first place.[17] However, the large mass of the gas giant may make it more likely for larger moons to form.[citation needed]

For a stable orbit the ratio between the moon's orbital period Ps around its primary and that of the primary around its star Pp must be < 1/9, e.g. if a planet takes 90 days to orbit its star, the maximum stable orbit for a moon of that planet is less than 10 days.[18][19] Simulations suggest that a moon with an orbital period less than about 45 to 60 days will remain safely bound to a massive giant planet or brown dwarf that orbits 1 AU from a Sun-like star.[20] In the case of Gliese 876 b, the orbital period would have to be no greater than a week (7 days) in order to have a stable orbit.

Tidal effects could also allow the moon to sustain plate tectonics, which would cause volcanic activity to regulate the moon's temperature[21][22] and create a geodynamo effect which would give the satellite a strong magnetic field.[23]

To support an Earth-like atmosphere for about 4.6 billion years (the age of the Earth), the moon would have to have a Mars-like density and at least a mass of 0.07 M.[24] One way to decrease loss from sputtering is for the moon to have a strong magnetic field that can deflect stellar wind and radiation belts. NASA's Galileo's measurements hints large moons can have magnetic fields; it found that Jupiter's moon Ganymede has its own magnetosphere, even though its mass is only 0.025 M.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Uncertainties in the planetary masses and semimajor axes do not take into account the uncertainty in the mass of the star.


  1. ^ a b van Leeuwen, F. (2007). "Validation of the new Hipparcos reduction". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 474 (2): 653–664. arXiv:0708.1752Freely accessible. Bibcode:2007A&A...474..653V. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20078357. Vizier catalog entry
  2. ^ a b c d Benedict, G. F; et al. (2002). "A Mass for the Extrasolar Planet Gliese 876b Determined from Hubble Space Telescope Fine Guidance Sensor 3 Astrometry and High-Precision Radial Velocities". The Astrophysical Journal. 581 (2): L115–L118. arXiv:astro-ph/0212101Freely accessible. Bibcode:2002ApJ...581L.115B. doi:10.1086/346073. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Rivera, Eugenio J.; et al. (July 2010). "The Lick-Carnegie Exoplanet Survey: A Uranus-mass Fourth Planet for GJ 876 in an Extrasolar Laplace Configuration". The Astrophysical Journal. 719 (1): 890–899. arXiv:1006.4244Freely accessible. Bibcode:2010ApJ...719..890R. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/719/1/890. 
  4. ^ a b c d Marcy, Geoffrey W.; et al. (1998). "A Planetary Companion to a Nearby M4 Dwarf, Gliese 876". The Astrophysical Journal Letters. 505 (2): L147–L149. arXiv:astro-ph/9807307Freely accessible. Bibcode:1998ApJ...505L.147M. doi:10.1086/311623. 
  5. ^ a b c d Delfosse, X.; et al. (1998). "The closest extrasolar planet. A giant planet around the M4 dwarf GL 876". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 338: L67–L70. arXiv:astro-ph/9808026Freely accessible. Bibcode:1998A&A...338L..67D. 
  6. ^ a b Rivera, Eugenio J.; et al. (2005). "A ~7.5 M Planet Orbiting the Nearby Star, GJ 876". The Astrophysical Journal. 634 (1): 625–640. arXiv:astro-ph/0510508Freely accessible. Bibcode:2005ApJ...634..625R. doi:10.1086/491669. 
  7. ^ Marcy, Geoffrey W.; et al. (2001). "A Pair of Resonant Planets Orbiting GJ 876". The Astrophysical Journal. 556 (1): 296–301. Bibcode:2001ApJ...556..296M. doi:10.1086/321552. 
  8. ^ Sudarsky, David; et al. (2003). "Theoretical Spectra and Atmospheres of Extrasolar Giant Planets". The Astrophysical Journal. 588 (2): 1121–1148. arXiv:astro-ph/0210216Freely accessible. Bibcode:2003ApJ...588.1121S. doi:10.1086/374331. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Gerlach, Enrico; Haghighipour, Nader (2012). "Can GJ 876 host four planets in resonance?". Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy. 113: 35–47. arXiv:1202.5865Freely accessible. Bibcode:2012CeMDA.113...35G. doi:10.1007/s10569-012-9408-0. 
  11. ^ Fraser Cain (16 September 2008). "How Old is the Sun?". Universe Today. Retrieved 19 February 2011. 
  12. ^ Fraser Cain (September 15, 2008). "Temperature of the Sun". Universe Today. Retrieved 19 February 2011. 
  13. ^ Butler, R. P.; et al. (2006). "Catalog of Nearby Exoplanets". The Astrophysical Journal. 646 (1): 505–522. arXiv:astro-ph/0607493Freely accessible. Bibcode:2006ApJ...646..505B. doi:10.1086/504701. 
  14. ^ Jones, Barrie W.; et al. (2005). "Prospects for Habitable "Earths" in Known Exoplanetary Systems". The Astrophysical Journal. 622 (2): 1091–1101. arXiv:astro-ph/0503178Freely accessible. Bibcode:2005ApJ...622.1091J. doi:10.1086/428108. 
  15. ^ Kasting, James F.; et al. (1993). "Habitable Zones around Main Sequence Stars" (PDF). Icarus. 101 (1): 108–128. Bibcode:1993Icar..101..108K. doi:10.1006/icar.1993.1010. PMID 11536936. 
  16. ^ Barnes, Jason W.; O'Brien, D. P. (2002). "Stability of Satellites around Close-in Extrasolar Giant Planets". The Astrophysical Journal. 575 (2): 1087–1093. arXiv:astro-ph/0205035Freely accessible. Bibcode:2002ApJ...575.1087B. doi:10.1086/341477.  (paper incorrectly refers to Gliese 876 b as GJ876c)
  17. ^ Canup, Robin M.; Ward, William R. (2006). "A common mass scaling for satellite systems of gaseous planets". Nature. 441 (7095): 834–839. Bibcode:2006Natur.441..834C. doi:10.1038/nature04860. PMID 16778883. 
  18. ^ Kipping, David (2009). "Transit timing effects due to an exomoon". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 392: 181–189. arXiv:0810.2243Freely accessible. Bibcode:2009MNRAS.392..181K. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13999.x. 
  19. ^ Heller, R. (2012). "Exomoon habitability constrained by energy flux and orbital stability". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 545: L8. arXiv:1209.0050Freely accessible. Bibcode:2012A&A...545L...8H. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201220003. ISSN 0004-6361. 
  20. ^ a b Andrew J. LePage. "Habitable Moons:What does it take for a moon — or any world — to support life?". Retrieved 2011-07-11. 
  21. ^ Glatzmaier, Gary A. "How Volcanoes Work – Volcano Climate Effects". Retrieved 29 February 2012. 
  22. ^ "Solar System Exploration: Io". Solar System Exploration. NASA. Retrieved 29 February 2012. 
  23. ^ Nave, R. "Magnetic Field of the Earth". Retrieved 29 February 2012. 
  24. ^ "In Search Of Habitable Moons". Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved 2011-07-11. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: Sky map 22h 53m 16.73s, −14° 15′ 49.3″