A different hypothesis
Though it be widely recognized today, that Jupiter sized planets that orbit close to its parent star would be too hot to support life,I give you Van Maanen’s Star! This is a cute little guy. Cute? For all you intellectuals out there on pot, how about ‘intriguing’? This star is only about the size of our Earth, having burned off it’s outer layers, and is now only a white dwarf some 3 billion years old… Here’s the intriguing part. Though stars loose their outer, gas layers, they still retain much of the density of the star before it blasted, or farted its gas away, depending on variations in density throughout the star when it poofed itself out; this in turn reflects its chemical make-up. Although being less than 1% of our sun’s size, Van Maanen still weighs in at about 68% of our sun’s mass!
This means, it is still possible for a Jupiter sized planet to be brought in close, after the stars death throws have occurred. This would give the star a chance to cool, allowing for a ‘goldilocks zone’, where life can flourish. This is my own hypothesis, and in no way reflect what Astronomers might necessarily propose today. I certainly believe, under these types of conditions, the possibility exists; though imagining a Jupiter sized planet orbiting this pin point of a star, is a bit of a stretch, nothing ‘out there’ surprises me any more! There are magic mushrooms the size of Redwoods out there!
What else is of interest?
It’s not ‘what’ a person sees through his/her telescope, that fills them with such awe and mystery, so much as does the information behind what it is we’re looking at! Alone, that this star is about the size of the Earth, gives us some excellent perspective on distance, size, and brightness! It’s about 4.3 parsecs from us. Do the math. A parsec is about 3 light years. So that comes out to 13.9 light years (one light year is about 6 trillion miles). Yet this star is visible through an 8 inch lens, on a night with ‘clear’ seeing, having an absolute magnitude of 14.8, and a lesser apparent magnitude of 12.9, because of its extremely close proximity to us; absolute magnitude reflects it’s true brightness, where-as apparent magnitude shows us what a star would look like from Earth, if it were positioned precisely 32 light years away. Also, there’s one unconfirmed sighting of a companion star, though nothing is visible within 1200 AUs (Astronomical units. One unit equals 93 million miles, or the distance from The Earth to The Sun.
Read all about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Maanen%27s_star or information about any star using Wikipedia’s own search engine. This charming neighbour in the scheme of things resembles just how our sun (Sol) will look 5 billion years from now… Lets put on our star caps now, (really, just a cap with a lot of paint splatters on it) and celebrate big balls of gas, with a Bean Barito from Taco Bell :O)