Real-life sci-fi world #6: Pandora (from the movie Avatar), the habitable moon of a gas giant planet

Welcome to Real-life Sci-fi worlds.  I use science to explore life-bearing worlds that are the settings for science fiction stories.  Up today: can the moon of a gas giant planet — like Pandora from the movie Avatar — really be habitable? Pandora is one of the coolest-ever settings for a science fiction story.  The life-bearing…

Real-life sci-fi world #4: Earth around a brown dwarf

Welcome to Real-life Sci-fi worlds.  We are using science to explore life-bearing worlds that are the settings for science fiction stories.  Up today: an Earth-like planet orbiting a brown dwarf. Setting Planets have been found orbiting all kinds of stars.  Stars like the Sun.  Stars brighter and fainter than the Sun.  Giant stars.  Planets have…

Real-life sci-fi worlds #3: the oscillating Earth

Welcome to Real-life Sci-fi worlds.  We are using science to explore life-bearing worlds that are the settings for science fiction stories.  Up today: the oscillating Earth. Setting Earth’s orbit is not fixed.  Gravitational kicks from the other planets change the shape of Earth’s orbit.  Earth’s orbit oscillates between being perfectly circular (having an “eccentricity” of…