The Strange Nature of Tidally Locked Planets

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The universe is filled with millions of planets. Some are big, some are small, and some are in between. But there is a type of planet that fascinated and continues to fascinate researchers.

Tidally locked planets pose interesting possibilities.  On these planets the sun is always in the same position. One half of the planet is splashed by eternal light while the other is plunged into endless darkness. While the premise doesn’t seem to be too attractive some believe that these planets are the most reliable choice when it comes to future space colonies.

It is known that up to75% of the suns that can be found in our galaxy are in fact red dwarfs, which are considerably smaller and cooler in comparison to our suns. Planets that orbit red dwarfs will need to be closer to the star in order to be viable for human life. At such a small distance the planet would be forced into a tidally locked orbit.

A team of researchers has recently managed to discover seven planets which are quite similar to Earth. These planets are locked in the TRAPPIST-1 system and they all seem to be tidally locked.

An obvious question appears: Where should we place the base? The answer may be surprising but it is very practical. The prime candidate is an area located between the two zones. This twilight zone will provide the perfect middle ground for a colony.

Humans will be able to generate thermal energy by using a device that is able to use hot water from the warm side and cold water from the dark side. This device would power the energy system of the colony and provide warmth and drinkable water.

It is also taught that strong wind currents can be harnessed in order to generate energy. The main issue is posed by the exact position of the planet. Red dwarfs are infamous for their instability and a small flare could lead to catastrophic events.

Further research is needed before any attempts to colonize a planet can take place.

As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.