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Newest alien planet is just the right temperature for life - Comments

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 1 by Neodarwinian

Cool!

Now, how do we get there?

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 22:41:09 UTC | #896297

Floyd's Avatar Comment 2 by Floyd

Exciting - what a great time to be living on this Earth. Our national newspaper ran a short article on this today which said the planet had land and water. But according to the scientists, we don't know what it's made of yet. Typical shoddy journalism. I really hate the media.

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 22:51:00 UTC | #896301

Billions and Billions's Avatar Comment 3 by Billions and Billions

Hopefully this kind of news will help keep the James Webb Telescope in development. (The US Congress recently considered cancelling the project even though several billion dollars have already gone into the project.) The JWT will be the successor to Hubble and will have the ability to detect the content of an atmosphere on a planet such as this, as well as revealing much about the early universe. Launch of the telescope is expected to be in 2018.

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 22:55:32 UTC | #896303

I Deny's Avatar Comment 4 by I Deny

Yeah, Floyd. I sometimes get disillusioned with articles about the Kepler planets. It starts to feel like an easy story for columnists given the number of planet candidates racking up. Exciting to see so many coming in :)

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 22:56:40 UTC | #896304

The Jersey Devil's Avatar Comment 5 by The Jersey Devil

600 light years?

IMO, inter-stellar travel will be impossible. Even if we could travel close to light speed - which also raises the question of how to stop/navigate a vehicle traveling at that speed - I don't see how we could maintain life for 600 years in such a vehicle. I don't buy the induced coma method used in 'Planet of the Apes' either.

But don't be discouraged. I've been wrong before!

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 23:18:10 UTC | #896309

Scoundrel's Avatar Comment 6 by Scoundrel

What about the radioactive decay of elements in the planets crust? Wouldnt that generate heat, making "habitable" zones basically a meaningless concept.

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 23:35:22 UTC | #896314

Dixiedog's Avatar Comment 7 by Dixiedog

So do you mean to say that Star Trek faster than light warp drives are a load of rubbish? Bollocks, I was planning a jaunt to Kepler-22b at the weekend for a booze-up and a stop of sex tourism. Cleethorpes it is then.

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 23:38:01 UTC | #896316

78rpm's Avatar Comment 8 by 78rpm

Yes, Floyd (Comment 2), I too distrust the "news" media. I have personally been misquoted more than once by them. Not on nearly as heavy a subject as this, but enough to know not to automatically swallow whole what they publish.

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 23:54:16 UTC | #896319

SomersetJohn's Avatar Comment 9 by SomersetJohn

Comment 6 by Scoundrel :

What about the radioactive decay of elements in the planets crust? Wouldnt that generate heat, making "habitable" zones basically a meaningless concept.

It would certainly complicate matters.

I'm no geologist so could be completely wrong but I see several different senarios, based on the premis that Earth has a liquid mantle due at least in part on radioactive decay.

Way too much active elements might lead to runaway vulcanism, so a crust never forms.

Somewhat less actives still causes too much vulcanism over too long a period, though a crust can form. Plate tectonics either doesn't get going or forms plates too small for continental formation. Might also be problems with fallout/decay products.

The right recipe. Just enough radioisotopes to produce something similar to Earth, in conjunction with the right distance from the right star.

Not enough radioisotopes. Mars perhaps?

There's a whole lot of variables to be taken into account, might make for an interesting bit of research.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 00:02:17 UTC | #896322

David-in-Toronto's Avatar Comment 10 by David-in-Toronto

Comment 5 by The Jersey Devil :

600 light years?

IMO, inter-stellar travel will be impossible. Even if we could travel close to light speed - which also raises the question of how to stop/navigate a vehicle traveling at that speed - I don't see how we could maintain life for 600 years in such a vehicle.

If you were traveling close to lightspeed, ship time would/could be significantly less than 600 years.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 00:22:21 UTC | #896326

Chris Boccia's Avatar Comment 11 by Chris Boccia

Comment 10 by David-in-Toronto :

Comment 5 by The Jersey Devil :

600 light years?

IMO, inter-stellar travel will be impossible. Even if we could travel close to light speed - which also raises the question of how to stop/navigate a vehicle traveling at that speed - I don't see how we could maintain life for 600 years in such a vehicle.

If you were traveling close to lightspeed, ship time would/could be significantly less than 600 years.

It would take years to gradually reach that sort of speed, and then years to slow down. I'm not even sure you could reach light speed (impossible, but just as an example) and slow down in 600 years. I think it takes a lot longer than one would imagine.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 00:56:37 UTC | #896332

I Deny's Avatar Comment 12 by I Deny

It would certainly take longer than 600 years to traverse, but in that high speeds thought experiment however, my understanding is that if one could actually survive the trip, that sort of distance is plausible in a lifetime.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 01:14:13 UTC | #896334

rjohn19's Avatar Comment 13 by rjohn19

Help a rookie here. If that planet happened to be constituted just like Earth, at that size would the the gravity be crushing to our forms even if we could get there?

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 02:32:59 UTC | #896344

SnowyDoc's Avatar Comment 14 by SnowyDoc

@ rjohn19

The force of gravity acting at the surface depends on the mass of the planet, which we don't yet know. If we assume (and it's a big assumption) that the density is the same as that of the Earth, then it would have roughly 14 times the mass of the Earth, and the gravity felt at the surface would therefore be roughly 14 times that on Earth.

So yes, it would be a tad uncomfortable. :-)

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 04:03:22 UTC | #896361

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 15 by Cartomancer

referring to the narrow, balmy band of space around any star where water can be liquid.

I'm pretty sure it is a crime against the English language to describe the freezing cold vacuum of space as "balmy"...

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 04:36:42 UTC | #896364

mmurray's Avatar Comment 16 by mmurray

Comment 14 by SnowyDoc :

@ rjohn19

The force of gravity acting at the surface depends on the mass of the planet, which we don't yet know. If we assume (and it's a big assumption) that the density is the same as that of the Earth, then it would have roughly 14 times the mass of the Earth, and the gravity felt at the surface would therefore be roughly 14 times that on Earth.

So yes, it would be a tad uncomfortable. :-)

I'm not sure this is the right calculation. As the planet gets bigger people on the surface are further away from the centre.

I think the correct calculation goes as follows. The gravitational force on a person of mass m on the surface of a planet of mass M is the same as if you make the planet into a point mass as its centre. As the person is relatively small compared to the planet you can make them a point mass as well. If the density of the planet is d and assumed constant and radius is r then the mass of the planet is

M = d [ (4/3) pi (r cubed) ]

the force is

F = C (m M ) / ( r squared)

where C is some constant. So ignoring all the constants the force is proportional to the radius. Hence gravity should be 2.4 g on the surface of this planet of gravity if g on the surface of earth.. Uncomfortable for us but evolution could have adapted I think.

Michael

EDIT: See also wikipedia.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 04:43:10 UTC | #896365

Crazycharlie's Avatar Comment 17 by Crazycharlie

I was once optimistic about long distance space travel. However, the hazards to our frail human body's in space, 0 gravity, the distance to other stars, and this, in my opinion, is the most daunting; cosmic rays, has made me a bit jaded on the subject. I truely hope I'm wrong and human ingenuity can overcome these obstacles.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 08:03:40 UTC | #896389

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 18 by justinesaracen

Hmm. What about a 'live-aboard'? You know. A colony ship with, say, a thousand people and all the resources for life already on board. Hydroponic gardens, some manufacturing capacity, 100% recycling of all organic matter, capacity to create oxygen, etc. Like a mini-planet. Barring asteroid encounters, it could exist in space almost indefinitely. Then, if the target planet turns out to be inhospitable after all, people could re-calculate and move on to the next candidate.

I think I read that as a plot in at least five sci-fi novels.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 09:10:09 UTC | #896394

Jumped Up Chimpanzee's Avatar Comment 19 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee

The really sobering thought about the possibility of travelling to this planet 600 light years away is if we were unable to develop anything that could travel much faster than existing spacecraft.

I heard that the Voyager spacecraft that has just left our solar system and is travelling at about 40,000mph would take about 80,000 years just to reach the nearest star (about 4 light years away). That means it would take about 12 million years to reach this newly discovered planet!

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 09:23:24 UTC | #896395

Capt. Bloodeye's Avatar Comment 20 by Capt. Bloodeye

The comments here display a pedestrian lack of imagination. Not too long ago the top authorities declared that it was impossible to fly, travel at over 20mph etc etc etc. Paradigms will shift, impossibilities will become matter of fact. Does anyone here really think that looking at the potentials of our existence from our current primitive state of technology is all inclusive?

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 09:32:06 UTC | #896396

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 21 by Alan4discussion

Comment 2 by Floyd - Exciting - what a great time to be living on this Earth. Our national newspaper ran a short article on this today which said the planet had land and water. But according to the scientists, we don't know what it's made of yet. Typical shoddy journalism.

While this sort of discovery is good progress in finding and classifying exoplanets, sloppy reporting will no doubt mislead many.

@OP - The actual temperature on Kepler-22b hinges on whether the planet has an atmosphere, which, like a blanket, would warm the surface. Even without an atmosphere, Borucki said, the planet would likely be warm enough to host liquid water on its surface.

This statement does not make sense. Without the pressure of an atmosphere to restrain it, water would boil at this temperature and start to create an atmosphere.

Instead, the temperature on the newly announced planet Kepler-22b could be just right for life — about 72 degrees, a perfect spring day on Earth.

Indeed the science is so badly presented that it does not specify if it is 72°F or 72°C. If it is a "perfect spring day", it presumably means 72°F, but I would not rely on a report from someone who could not see the need to specify the temperature scale quoted!

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 09:40:51 UTC | #896398

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 22 by Jos Gibbons

Alan4discussion, thanks for the pressure observation. You will be pleased to know the BBC bothered to include units (although they quoted the figure in Celsius so said 22C instead of 72F). Now all we need is for someone to include the "degrees" symbol. Maybe they should just say 295 K.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 10:02:28 UTC | #896399

AfraidToDie's Avatar Comment 23 by AfraidToDie

With such a potential density, perhaps that is the planet where Kal-El was born before his father (Jor-El) sent him to earth. If so, we know that planet has already exploded.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 10:17:12 UTC | #896401

Crimbly's Avatar Comment 24 by Crimbly

          [Comment 20](/articles/644129-newest-alien-planet-is-just-the-right-temperature-for-life/comments?page=1#comment_896396) by  [Capt. Bloodeye](/profiles/129046)          :


                 The comments here display a pedestrian lack of imagination.  Not too long ago the top authorities declared that it was impossible to fly, travel at over 20mph etc etc etc.  Paradigms will shift, impossibilities will become matter of fact.  Does anyone here really think that looking at the potentials of our existence from our current primitive state of technology is all inclusive?

Brings to mind Arthur C. Clarke's observation that anything sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 10:30:00 UTC | #896404

Anaximander's Avatar Comment 25 by Anaximander

It would take years to gradually reach that sort of speed, and then years to slow down. I'm not even sure you could reach light speed (impossible, but just as an example) and slow down in 600 years. I think it takes a lot longer than one would imagine.

I think it would probably not take much more than one year with 1g acceleration. But where would it be at that time?

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 10:34:44 UTC | #896405

mmurray's Avatar Comment 26 by mmurray

Comment 20 by Capt. Bloodeye :

The comments here display a pedestrian lack of imagination. Not too long ago the top authorities declared that it was impossible to fly, travel at over 20mph etc etc etc. Paradigms will shift, impossibilities will become matter of fact. Does anyone here really think that looking at the potentials of our existence from our current primitive state of technology is all inclusive?

But you are still left with Fermi's Paradox. If it is technologically possible why aren't they here?

Michael

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 10:36:45 UTC | #896406

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 27 by DavidMcC

Comment 26 by mmurray :

Comment 20 by Capt. Bloodeye :

The comments here display a pedestrian lack of imagination. Not too long ago the top authorities declared that it was impossible to fly, travel at over 20mph etc etc etc. Paradigms will shift, impossibilities will become matter of fact. Does anyone here really think that looking at the potentials of our existence from our current primitive state of technology is all inclusive?

But you are still left with Fermi's Paradox. If it is technologically possible why aren't they here?

Michael

Didn't you know? They ARE here! (And you DO know that "The X files" is a documentary, DON'T you!) ;)

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 10:48:03 UTC | #896407

ColdThinker's Avatar Comment 28 by ColdThinker

Comment 20 by Capt. Bloodeye :

The comments here display a pedestrian lack of imagination. Not too long ago the top authorities declared that it was impossible to fly, travel at over 20mph etc etc etc. Paradigms will shift, impossibilities will become matter of fact. Does anyone here really think that looking at the potentials of our existence from our current primitive state of technology is all inclusive?

I would not call it a lack of imagination to declare interstellar travel impossible for humanity. It is pretty much a fact. It is more of a lack of imagination to take some old technological advances as examples and believe they can be extrapolated as any serious prediction of the future. It's like comparing supersonic travel to superluminal, quite silly actually.

Interstellar travel requires amounts of energy and resources so far beyond anything our species can ever achieve that it is not even science fiction, it is harry potter-like fantasy. There is hardly enough matter in our solar system to convert to the energy needed. Let alone surviving the cosmic radiation or any other kind of life support.

Then again, some nanotechnological probes might some day be a possibility. But if living creatures were to travel across interstellar distances, they wouldn't be called homo sapiens. They would have to be genetically so much modified from us that they would have to be another species altogether. Even then it is questionable whether it is possible for any kind of life to make it through such vast amounts of lethal emptiness.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 11:09:40 UTC | #896410

Reckless Monkey's Avatar Comment 29 by Reckless Monkey

Sagan in Cosmos talks about ships approaching sufficiently high speeds to experience time slowing which would allow you to travel the distances necessary in in less than a human lifetime (on board) accelerating at 1 g. then half way turning around firing the motor in the opposite direction to slow down. Unfortunately the nuclear fusion motors would need to be fueled by tiny amounts of hydrogen available requiring essentially a funnel kilometers across some sort of shielding to deflect the subatomic particles that we would be passing through quickly enough to cook us. Of course you could tour the galaxy in a lifetime but you'd come back 10 000 years latter or something. So not in my lifetime (maybe in a 1000 years) if we ever get our act together.

As far fetched as all this sounds though if you think back to the distance between manned flight and going to the Moon being only 66 years then who knows. Hard to imagine we can get that organized when we can't get our economies sorted, or our environment. Be nice to get a message from another planet though or even bacterial life on Mars would be sweet. We'll see.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 11:33:47 UTC | #896415

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 30 by Alan4discussion

Comment 16 by mmurray

So ignoring all the constants the force is proportional to the radius. Hence gravity should be 2.4 g on the surface of this planet of gravity if g on the surface of earth.. Uncomfortable for us but evolution could have adapted I think.

2.4 times Earth gravity would not be so much of a problem for life under water. Some life on Earth lives in the deep oceans under enormous pressure.

There would however be the issue of a possible large moon, possible tidal-locking, axial instability in the absence of one, or gravitational variation around the center of mass or barycenter if a large moon or binary planet system was involved.

If we are looking at the possibilities of life and abiogenesis there are some interesting points on this discussion: - http://richarddawkins.net/articles/643549-origin-of-life-challenge-how-did-life-begin#page1

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 11:52:09 UTC | #896419