Posted on Wednesday, August 13, 2014
By Kadri
Under a Crimson Sun by David S. Stevenson

Prospects for Life in a Red Dwarf System

Red dwarfs are some of the smallest, dimmest and coolest stars in the Universe than might outlive stars like the san a hundred times or more.

Given that red dwarfs have a rather stable energy output for billions of years, how might life arise, survive and thrive on a planet around a red dwarf star, and is it even possible? These are some of the questions that the reader gets an answer to in this fascinating book by David S. Stevenson.

This book looks more specifically at a red dwarf designated Gliese 581, that scientists have confirmed has at least four planets. Although one might not consider a possible planetary system around a small dim reddish star too inviting or even interesting, as you read “Under a Crimson”, you might suddenly wish to actually one day see, how a planet might look like there and whether or not some of Stevenson’s ideas about how life might thrive there will be proven correct. Will the plant-life possibly have black-coloured leaves and use infrared light for photosynthesis ? Or will plants learn to move around like the Ents do in J.R.R. Tolkien’s world, as the planets that could be suitable for life might be tidally locked as they have to be quite close to get enough energy from the star?

“Under a Crimson Sun” offers a lot of interesting ideas and possibilities and surprises the reader with rare glimpses of more humorous writing in a book about astronomy, going from a planet made of pasta or porridge and what would happen on it to more realistic planets, which are every bit as curious as the ones that one might think are edible (to find out whether they’d be, you’ve got to read this book!)

It is a thought-provoking book, that provides information about modern research into exoplanets and super-Earths in particular, as well as entertaining science-writing, making this book an excellent choice for some additional reading for students and also showing how life might be totally different somewhere else and not similar at all to what we know here on Earth.

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