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← Astronomers find batch of 'super-Earths'

Astronomers find batch of 'super-Earths' - Comments

leodavinci's Avatar Comment 1 by leodavinci

Cool, or should i say Goldilocks Zone.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 06:19:00 UTC | #184177

MarcLindenberg's Avatar Comment 2 by MarcLindenberg

Wow, so now when Earth is dying we will have a place to go :P

It's pretty cool to think that there might be lots of Earth-like planets out there...

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 06:32:00 UTC | #184184

Gwaihir's Avatar Comment 3 by Gwaihir

I have been meaning to ask my pastor what the catholic church's stand is on exoplanets. Ha!
If we can find earth-like planets orbiting nearby stars, then there are possibly billions more, or even trillions more. The universe is a kind place.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 06:45:00 UTC | #184198

pwuk's Avatar Comment 4 by pwuk

That'll be handy, for when we become immortal :-)

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 06:47:00 UTC | #184203

robotaholic's Avatar Comment 5 by robotaholic

more places to strip-mine!

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 06:51:00 UTC | #184206

SPS's Avatar Comment 6 by SPS

Is it too early to have my thumb out?

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 07:06:00 UTC | #184220

bugaboo's Avatar Comment 7 by bugaboo

can someone explain to me (or point me in the right direction to find out)why the orbits are of such short duration?

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 07:11:00 UTC | #184227

schmeer's Avatar Comment 8 by schmeer

"can someone explain to me (or point me in the right direction to find out)why the orbits are of such short duration?"

Most likely it is because the "wobble" in brightness that indicates a planet is present is much easier to see when the variation occurs over a shorter time period. To find a planet with a year comparable to our own, you'd have to watch it for years. If the planet orbits in a few days you can see the change in brightness in a week's work.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 07:26:00 UTC | #184244

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 9 by Quetzalcoatl

Bugaboo-

as to the reason why the planets actually have such a short orbit, they could have formed that close in to the star, but it's more likely that they formed further out and their orbits were disturbed, perhaps by a rogue gas giant, sending them spiralling in towards the sun.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 07:30:00 UTC | #184249

EvidenceOnly's Avatar Comment 10 by EvidenceOnly

Although this should cause religious people to reflect on the silliness of their believes that god (which one?) created us and that he/she/it has a plan for us, most will probably conclude that it is the devil who is corrupting us with science or that it is the devil who is creating these fake images to make us doubt god.

This would imply that the devil is technologically superior to god which would make the devil god himself/herself/itself.

This would be just funny if the religious would keep religion to the privacy of their own home and stay out of politics.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 07:32:00 UTC | #184250

bugaboo's Avatar Comment 11 by bugaboo

Schmeer and Quetz

Thanks. Another wobble hypothesis-i like it!

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 07:36:00 UTC | #184255

moderndaythomas's Avatar Comment 12 by moderndaythomas

42 light-years away towards the southern Doradus and Pictor constellations.


That's a Sunday drive.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 07:43:00 UTC | #184260

Kentrel's Avatar Comment 13 by Kentrel

"This would be just funny if the religious would keep religion to the privacy of their own home and stay out of politics."

As you are the first person to mention religion in this thread I feel I should point out to you, that it would be also nice if in a science thread, some people wouldn't keep dragging religion into it...

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 07:48:00 UTC | #184265

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 14 by Steve Zara

Comment #193947 by Quetzalcoatl

as to the reason why the planets actually have such a short orbit, they could have formed that close in to the star, but it's more likely that they formed further out and their orbits were disturbed, perhaps by a rogue gas giant, sending them spiralling in towards the sun.


Absolutely.

There is another factor at work here too. These are simply the Earth-like planets we can detect. It might be more common for Earth-like planets to be at Earth-like distances.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 07:51:00 UTC | #184269

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 15 by Quetzalcoatl

Steve-

oh, definitely. We'll be finding Earth-size planets in Goldilocks zones within the next decade or so, probably. A few years ago, we couldn't even detect large gas giants. Science moves on!

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 07:55:00 UTC | #184274

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 16 by Steve Zara

Comment #193972 by Quetzalcoatl

Heh. Don't get me started on the subject of Goldilocks zones!

I can thoroughly recommend "Evolving the Alien" by Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart. It puts to rest the idea of the Goldilocks zone.

Even an extra-solar planet with no warmth other than internal radioactive decay could be as full of (simple) life forms as the Earth. (Being extra-solar, it would have a thick atmosphere of insulating hydrogen, and the surface temperature would be nice and warm for billions of years)

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 07:58:00 UTC | #184275

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 17 by Quetzalcoatl

Steve-

well, let's face it, when we have the ability to, everyone will be looking in the Goldilocks zones anyway. And they are at least the best place to look to find planets capable of supporting us, ie with liquid water and reasonable temperatures.

I'll check out that book- I enjoyed The Science of Discworld books they wrote.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 08:01:00 UTC | #184282

passutoba's Avatar Comment 18 by passutoba

sorry if this a dumb question, but would the short orbit time mean they also rotate faster on their axis?

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 08:02:00 UTC | #184283

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 19 by Quetzalcoatl

Passutoba-

not necessarily. Venus, for instance, has a very long day compared to ours. Depending on the type of star, it's also possible that the planets are tide-locked so that one side permanently faces the star.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 08:07:00 UTC | #184289

black wolf's Avatar Comment 20 by black wolf

Strategy: convince the nutters that those planets are the place God meant them to live on, have them pool their billions, build a generation ship and off they go. I'd like to keep Earth for reasonable people.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 08:10:00 UTC | #184293

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 21 by Steve Zara

Comment #193980 by Quetzalcoatl


well, let's face it, when we have the ability to, everyone will be looking in the Goldilocks zones anyway.


Yeah, that is inevitable :)

And they are at least the best place to look to find planets capable of supporting us, ie with liquid water and reasonable temperatures.


Actually, that probably isn't true. Earth was only what we consider "Earth-like" for about the past 600 million years - a tiny fraction of its existence.

There is most likely far more warm water in the underground seas of gas giant moons, the result of tidal heating.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 08:11:00 UTC | #184294

wiz220's Avatar Comment 22 by wiz220

The most likely reason for finding planets with short periods is that they are easier to detect with both the wobble method and the blocked light method. If the planet had an orbit that was very long (a year or more) you have to observe the star for a longer time to see the wobble caused by the planet's gravity. Also, you would have to be looking at the star at JUST the right time to see the light from the star dim due to a planet passing between us and the star (if you were not using the wobble detection method.

If the planet is orbiting quickly the wobble is more pronounced because it's happening at a higher rate. You would also have a better chance of seeing the star dim because of a planet passing in front of it (second detection method).

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 08:13:00 UTC | #184298

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 23 by Quetzalcoatl

Steve-

well, yes, but by "supporting us" I meant Earth-like worlds that we can actually walk around on with maybe a pressure suit or something for the atmosphere. In practical terms they would be easier to settle than a gas giant moon.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 08:16:00 UTC | #184301

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 24 by Steve Zara

Comment #194000 by Quetzalcoatl

Ah! I see what you mean.

It still probably isn't going to be likely. We would have a lot of problems living on Earth more than a hundred or so million years ago, as the oxygen varied so much.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 08:24:00 UTC | #184309

mesomodel's Avatar Comment 26 by mesomodel

Comment #193981 by passutoba


sorry if this a dumb question, but would the short orbit time mean they also rotate faster on their axis?

No, not necessarily. Different phenomena.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 08:30:00 UTC | #184314

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 25 by Quetzalcoatl

Steve-

we're getting into sci-fi territory now! You raise a good point- many sci-fi novels don't cover the idea that different oxygen levels make it unlikely that very many earth-size planets will be sufficiently earth-like for humans to live on without either domed colonies or genetic modification. Even I didn't think about it in my books :(

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 08:30:00 UTC | #184313

entheogensmurf's Avatar Comment 27 by entheogensmurf

MarcLindenberg,

Earth is dying, or I should say we are destroying (killing) the planet.

I do agree that it's cool that Earth-like planets are popping up. Now we just need the engines, the ability to survive a trip that lasts over 40 years and the ability to terraform.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 08:52:00 UTC | #184333

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 28 by Steve Zara

Comment #194032 by entheogensmurf

Earth is dying, or I should say we are destroying (killing) the planet.


I think that is a bit strong. If millions of years of continent-sized lava flows in the Permian could not destroy life, and if an asteroid collision with a force of millions of nuclear weapons at the end of the Cretaceous could not do it, then we can't.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 08:58:00 UTC | #184336

evolver23's Avatar Comment 29 by evolver23

Question:

Is the word "super-Earths" used simply because of their size? Are the planets known to be rocky, rather than gas giants? Or have the researchers been able to analyze the chemical composition of the planets' atmospheres via spectroscopy? I guess I'm just wondering what exactly the distinction is between these exoplanets and previously discovered ones.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 09:03:00 UTC | #184338

moderndaythomas's Avatar Comment 30 by moderndaythomas

I can thoroughly recommend "Evolving the Alien" by Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart. It puts to rest the idea of the Goldilocks zone.


This brings to mind something that I had read from one of Sagans books. In it he imagines what life evolving on (in) a gaseous planet such as Jupiter would be like.

I recall thinking that it would be difficult to do anything when you couldn't set foot on a crusty surface, but just think about the albatross.
Here's a bird that lives in the windiest places on the earth. It can stay aloft indefinitely. It needs not expend energy in flight, all it has to do is extend its wings and the wind does all the work.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 09:24:00 UTC | #184345