By Wolfe R.

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Bernard Fontenelle, French writer, 1686 Seven Wonders beyond the Solar System a brown dwarf. It orbits 70 Virginis at about half the distance between Earth and the Sun. Its surface may be about 185°F (85°C). This temperature is below the boiling point of water. So life may be able to exist on the planet. Geoffrey Marcy thinks the planet might have oceans and rainfall. Other astronomers think it might be a giant gas planet, with no solid surface on which water can collect. No one knows for sure.

The Sun and all the stars we can see in the sky are part of a galaxy called the of 200 to 400 M ilky Way. The M ilky Way is a collection billion stars. They swirl together like cream stirred into a cup of hot coffee. Astronomers used special cameras to create this image of the Milky Way. The center of the galaxy is the bright white area at center right. 53 The If you could see all the Milky Way at once, from some vast distance beyond it, it would resemble a fried egg. It has a bulbous center surrounded by a thick, flat disk.

PSR simply stands for pulsating source of radio. The numbers following PSR indicate where star Gliese 581 is named for a catalog of stars compiled by German astronomer Wilhelm Gliese. It is star number 581 in the catalog. Gliese 581b was the first planet found orbiting the star. Gliese 581c was the second planet found orbiting the star. Gliese 581d was the third. There is no Gliese 581a, since the designation “a” is reserved for the star itself. If astronomers discover another planet orbiting the star, they will name it Gliese 581e.

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