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Astronomers Claim Discovery of Earth-like Planet

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the that-would-be-a-rough-civ-map dept.

Space 225

Raver32 writes "A team of astronomers announced they have discovered the smallest and potentially most Earth-like extrasolar planet yet. Five times as massive as Earth, it orbits a relatively cool star at a distance that would provide earthly temperatures as well, signaling the possibility of liquid water. 'The separation between the planet and its star is just right for having liquid water at its surface,' says astronomer and team spokesperson Stephane Udry of the Observatory of Geneva in Versoix, Switzerland. 'That's why we are a bit excited.' But researchers do not yet know if the planet contains water, if it is truly rocky like Earth, which might make it hospitable to life as we know it, or whether it is blanketed by a thick atmosphere. 'What we have,' Udry says, 'is the minimum mass of the planet and its separation" from its star.'"

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5x mass = 5x gravity (0, Redundant)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273729)

It may be earthlike, but it sure wouldn't be a comfortable place to spend any amount of time.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (4, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273755)

That's only if the radius from the centre of the objects is the same. Remember, gravity decreases as a function of the square of the distance.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (2, Informative)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273815)

It's a poorly written and shite article, but the box off to the side says:

One of two newly discovered exoplanets is nearly the size of Earth...

So, assuming they're talking about the same one, it should be roughly 5 times our gravity.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (2, Informative)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273961)

It's a poorly written and shite article, but the box off to the side says:

One of two newly discovered exoplanets is nearly the size of Earth...

So, assuming they're talking about the same one, it should be roughly 5 times our gravity.

The Earth has a density of about 5.5, so if that planet was 5 times heavier than Earth, it would have a density of 27.5 am I right? Even if it was made of pure gold it couldn't be that dense.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24274233)

Maybe it's the fabled space alien depleted Uranium dumping ground.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24274511)

My cock has a density of about 5.5, although its gravity-defying stiffness makes it appear to have a density of 1.0 when yo mama is around. When she's around, I bang her. Huh huh huh.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (3, Informative)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274713)

Yeah, that's an unreasonable density, but you should bear in mind that compression occurs. (Earth's uncompressed density is significantly lower than the actual density, for example.)

That said, you can fairly assume that the density is nearly the same as Earth's. In that case, the surface gravity is only about 70% higher than here. It'd still be tough walking around.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274859)

What's that compress density you're talking about??

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (2, Funny)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 6 years ago | (#24275077)

So what you're saying is we should go there to work out?

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (4, Informative)

Bobby Mahoney (1005759) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274813)

When they say "nearly the size of earth" they're speaking in an astronomical scale, which would qualify something 5-times as large as the earth as 'nearly'. It's not composed of gold or other heavy metal.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (4, Insightful)

zacronos (937891) | more than 6 years ago | (#24275179)

It's a poorly written and shite article, but the box off to the side says:

One of two newly discovered exoplanets is nearly the size of Earth...

So, assuming they're talking about the same one, it should be roughly 5 times our gravity.

Not so. If the planet has twice the diameter of earth, that falls well within the category of "nearly the size of Earth" for astronomers. Since gravity decreases proportionally to the square of the distance, gravity would be only 5/(2^2) times as strong as on Earth, an increase of a mere 20%.

If it has approximately the same density as earth, then since volume of a sphere increases proportionally to the cube of the radius/diameter, it would have 5^(1/3) times as large a diameter as earth, which is about 1.71 -- even closer to the size of our Earth. It would also wind up with gravity 1.71 times as strong, since 5/((5^(1/3))^2) == 5/(5^(2/3)) == 5^(1/3).

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (4, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273927)

I think that in planetary terms we can safely assume 5x mass will create an environment of roughly 5g ... maybe give or take 20%. Enough to ensure that the simple act of getting out of bed would be a gruelling ordeal.

Another problem I noticed after actually reading TFA:

Gliese 581 c, orbits at one fourteenth the distance between Earth and the sun. But the red dwarf is 50 times cooler than the sun. The group estimates that the planet would experience temperatures in the zero-to-40-degree-Celsius (32-to-104-Fahrenheit) range.

It is my understanding that red dwarfs, while generating reduced heat and light output, produce solar flares that are almost as intense as those produced by a G class star. So if a planet exists in the habitable zone it is also exposed to periodic sterilizing blasts of charged particles.

Maybe if we're lucky the planet happens to have a really strong magnetic field ... then we just have the crushing g load to contend with.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (3, Interesting)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274187)

Plus you can take into account all the other advantages life on Earth has had to make it possible:

- In a solar system with a large gas giant, which helps keep catastrophic impacts with asteroids and comets from happening too often

- Has a large satellite, which may help stabilize climate

- Is in a quiet part of the galaxy, and is not too near other stars, avoiding interactions with other stars/gamma ray bursts/etc.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (2, Interesting)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274469)

These points, among others, are made by authors Ward and Brownlee in the book Rare Earth

Long story short, complex life as it exists here on Earth is the result of a long series of very happy accidents. The odds against it happening elsewhere are ... well ... astronomical.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24274551)

You mean the odds OF it happening elsewhere. ;-)

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (5, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274581)

The odds against it happening elsewhere are ... well ... astronomical.

The universe contains a very large number of elsewhere.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (2, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274913)

The universe contains a very large number of elsewhere.

In fact, I would argue that from a human sized point of view, it contains an astronomical number of elsewheres.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24275163)

The question lies in the Drake Equation. How rare, exactly, are planets like earth? Nobody knows.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24275315)

- Is in a quiet part of the galaxy, and is not too near other stars, avoiding interactions with other stars/gamma ray bursts/etc.

Yeah, but does it have a Starbucks?

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24274595)

I think that in planetary terms we can safely assume 5x mass will create an environment of roughly 5g ... maybe give or take 20%. Enough to ensure that the simple act of getting out of bed would be a gruelling ordeal.

I don't know about you, but getting out of bed is a grueling ordeal at any gravity for me!

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (5, Informative)

Grokmoo (1180039) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274797)

I think that in planetary terms we can safely assume 5x mass will create an environment of roughly 5g ... maybe give or take 20%. Enough to ensure that the simple act of getting out of bed would be a gruelling ordeal.

Another problem I noticed after actually reading TFA:

No, it would not. It would need to be much denser than Earth for that to happen. This is basically impossible for an object of that mass.

Assuming roughly Earth like density (which is quite plausible), Radius will scale like Mass to the 1/3, while gravity scales like mass / radius squared. This works out to about 1.7 times Earth gravity at the surface.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (5, Informative)

flabbergasted (518911) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274935)

Oh for god's sake, people! Do a little math.

Let's assume that the average density of the earth-like planet is the same as Earth. (It wouldn't be an earth like planet if it were significantly different.) Then we can use the volume of the sphere to relate the mass and the surface radius. Since M = 4/3 * \pi * R^3 * \rho, where \rho is the density, it is easy to see that the surface radius goes like the cube root of the mass. Putting this into Newton's equation, we can see that a = GM/R^2 means that the surface gravity is also going to go like the cube root of the mass. If the mass is five times that of Earth, then the surface gravity will be the cube root of 5 greater than Earth's or about 1.7 times Earth normal.

Taking differences in the mean density into account is no more difficult, but I leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (1)

Joseph Hayes (982018) | more than 6 years ago | (#24275355)

I was just about to say that...

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24274961)

I'd be careful ... anything born on that planet might have huge muscles ... a planet of incredible hulks?

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (0)

davido42 (956948) | more than 6 years ago | (#24275225)

I think that in planetary terms we can safely assume 5x mass will create an environment of roughly 5g ... maybe give or take 20%. Enough to ensure that the simple act of getting out of bed would be a gruelling ordeal.

What, like getting out of bed anywhere isn't a gruelling ordeal? Still, once the aliens get out of bed, fly their improbable spacecraft over here, they will be seriously ready to kick our asses.

Except, I don't think that is actually true. (-1, Flamebait)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273983)

That's only if the radius from the centre of the objects is the same. Remember, gravity decreases as a function of the square of the distance.

Isn't the case, that, at least while you are on the planet, the math works out such that the gravity is consistent at whatever point you are on. If you modelled the earth as a bunch of tiny cubes, each with their own gravitational field, then, the resolution of the sum of all of those vectors is going to be pulling you to the center of the planet.

It's only once you start getting into space does the gravitational attraction begin to fall away.

Re:Except, I don't think that is actually true. (2, Informative)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274079)

No. While it is hard to measure, gravity drops off with any altitude at all. The gravity you feel standing on top of Mt. Everest is ever so slightly less than that in Death Valley.

Re:Except, I don't think that is actually true. (3, Informative)

AdamHaun (43173) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274183)

You're probably thinking of the shell theorem, which says that a uniform sphere of mass is gravitationally equivalent to a point mass located at the center of the sphere. This theorem does imply that a larger radius = less gravity at the surface.

Except, it *is* actually true. (4, Informative)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274265)

To calculate the gravitational effect of a massive sphere, its whole mass can be
considered accumulated in its center as long as you are outside of it.
So the gravitational acceleration indeed only depends on mass an distance.
Mathematical fact.

Neat additional trivia:
- Inside a hollow sphere, there is no gravitational effect by the sphere's mass - it cancels out exactly.
That's why
- Inside a massive sphere, gravitational acceleration increses linearly with the radial distance to the center.
(the mass increases with r^3 as you get further out, its effect decreases by 1/r^2 - and as it can be considered
concentrated in the middle, you get an increase by a factor of r^3/r^2 = r
Gravity is fun :-)

All this of course only for constant density.

Re:Except, I don't think that is actually true. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24274281)

That's only if the radius from the centre of the objects is the same. Remember, gravity decreases as a function of the square of the distance.

Isn't the case, that, at least while you are on the planet, the math works out such that the gravity is consistent at whatever point you are on?

No, we can even measure how surface gravity varies from g=9.78 m/s2 to g=9.82 m/s2 when moving from the equator towards a pole. And this is because Earth is not perfectly round, the people at higher latitudes are closer to the center of Earth and fall faster.

Re:Except, I don't think that is actually true. (4, Funny)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274475)

``No, we can even measure how surface gravity varies from g=9.78 m/s2 to g=9.82 m/s2 when moving from the equator towards a pole. And this is because Earth is not perfectly round, the people at higher latitudes are closer to the center of Earth and fall faster.''

No, that's because they drink more alcohol there.

Re:Except, I don't think that is actually true. (2, Funny)

Frools (1326479) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274903)

I'm not fat, im just from a higher latitude :(

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (2, Informative)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273799)

5x gravity only if it were the same physical size.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (5, Funny)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273825)

It may be earthlike, but it sure wouldn't be a comfortable place to spend any amount of time.

For you maybe, but anything that evolved in that environment would be really strong on this planet, be able to leap...wait, what was the name of that planet?

Can you imagine the women, why they'd be build like a brick shi...cue the Commodores.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24274825)

Death by Snu-Snu!

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (1)

paimin (656338) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274917)

I, for one, welcome Superman.

Nope. (4, Informative)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273879)

It may be earthlike, but it sure wouldn't be a comfortable place to spend any amount of time.

Mass alone says very little about the surface gravity of a planet - you need to know the radius of the object to make any statement about its surface gravity. Earth's moon has slightly over a percent of the mass of Earth, but about 1/6g surface gravity. Mars has only about 10% of the mass of Earth, while having 1/3g surface gravity.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (2, Informative)

Grokmoo (1180039) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273913)

Acceleration due to gravity scales as mass over Radius squared, whereas Radius will scale as Mass to the one third, assuming relatively constant density. So, the radius would be about 1.7 times that of Earth.

Thus, acceleration due to gravity would be about 5 / (1.7 ^ 2) or about 1.7 times Earth acceleration (10 m / s ^ 2). This is all assuming it is Earth like in composition, which we don't know for sure.

1.7 times Earth gravity would be pretty high, but it might be livable. It is worth noting, however, that this is only a MINIMUM mass estimate - the mass could be higher.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (1)

IkeTo (27776) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274589)

I think the real problem to make it earth-like is not surface gravity, but instead the distance at which it can still trap its atmosphere. The much thicker atmosphere probably means that the planet traps heat from its "sun" very efficiently.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274125)

If there is complex land life I sure don't want to meet it. as for it could survive it would need to be super strong, and light. So an humanoid would be like 25 lbs and probably on the average twice as strong as us.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 6 years ago | (#24275089)

They'd be like a really strong Little Fuzzy [wikipedia.org] or 2 year old?

More new math on Slashdot (2, Informative)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274439)

5 times the mass means 5 times the gravity assuming the same volume.

If we assume this planet is truly "earth-like" and has similar density, then it is not a true statement that it will have 5 times the gravity of earth. If the density is similar to that of Earth, then the size of the planet will be larger. The radius will be larger by a factor of the cube root of 5 (the real one, that is), which is about 1.7, which is also almost exactly the square root of 3.

Since gravity is proportional to the inverse of the radius squared, the gravity of this planet at its surface is 1/3 the magnitude it would have if the volume were the same as Earth's.

Comparing, this means that this planet will have 5/3 the gravity of earth, or 1.67 times. 1 kg of mass would weigh about 3.68 lbs, so my meager 75kg frame would weigh 276 Earth lbs. Wouldn't be the first time...

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274609)

Assuming it has the same density as earth it works out to 2.92 G.
Not suitable for people, but totally possible for life as we know it - especially undersea stuff.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (1)

Temujin_12 (832986) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274861)

it sure wouldn't be a comfortable place to spend any amount of time.

...let alone to deliver pillows on it [wikipedia.org] .

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274975)

No with constant density, for a sphere, 5x mass = 5^(1/3) gravity on surface

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (1)

rasputin465 (1032646) | more than 6 years ago | (#24275151)

5x mass = 5x gravity

That's unlikely, and as a couple other responders have pointed out, it depends on the radius of the planet. If it has the same average density as the Earth, then the gravitational forces at its surface are 5^(1/3)=1.7 times as strong.

Re:5x mass = 5x gravity (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 6 years ago | (#24275205)

5x mass = 5x gravity

Ummm, no. More like 1.7x.

Surface gravity is proportional to the cube root of the mass if you assume similar composition, because it's proportional to the planet's mass and inversely proportional to the distance from the center of mass to the surface (i.e. the planet's radius). The radius will be 5^(1/3) = 1.71x. The gravity will then be 5/(1.71^2) = 1.71x.

rj

That's it! (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273739)

Fire off a bunch of rockets filled with Prisoners.

Call it the S.S. Botany Bay, and give them a radio to let us know how it all works out for them.

Re:That's it! (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274217)

You know...I know your joking, but even if we were to send someone over there, at 20 light years away, the amount of time it would take to receive the transmitted data would take a life time to get back. (Do communication waves travel the speed of light?)

Re:That's it! (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274485)

(Do communication waves travel the speed of light?)

they do if you used targeted laser pluses

Re:That's it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24274515)

(Do communication waves travel the speed of light?)

Yes, so 20 years. Hardly a lifetime.

Getting there, on the other hand, would take significantly longer (if we could manage to get a ship to 0.1c, that would likely be amazing), and it's one hell of a trip back if it doesn't work out.

Re:That's it! (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274547)

I'm really not interested in their answer. I just want to create a prison planet. Although, with the enhanced gravity, they would evolve much stronger than us here.

Okay, let's fill it up with athletes.

Re:That's it! (2, Insightful)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 6 years ago | (#24275217)

You mean dead, desiccated prisoners. How long would it take Voyager to travel 20 ly? And we want to send people on that trip? Do we tell them we're going to use a worm hole/star gate/warp drive on the ship and that's why they're only getting a single soda and pack of peanuts for supplies?

TFA (5, Informative)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273759)

TFA is dated 24 April, 2007 -- I'm pretty sure that this is old news.

Re:TFA (1)

davegravy (1019182) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273791)

Yup. Can't find it in the slashdot search, but I remember this being posted before.

Re:TFA (2, Informative)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273843)

WTF...somebody points out that the story is over a year old and it's modded troll? What the hell is wrong with you people?

Re:TFA (2, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273889)

Oh, they just don't like me. I've learned to deal with it.

Re:TFA (1, Flamebait)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274481)

Awesome, now I'm modded troll as well...hooray Slashdot!

MODERATORS!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24273977)

Mod parent down if you like packing fudge. Lol!

Re:TFA (5, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274021)

It had to go through Slashdot's rigorous peer review process before getting published.

Re:TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24274429)

It had to go through Slashdot's rigorous peer review process before getting published.

hehe, that one made me giggle

Re:TFA (4, Funny)

hexed_2050 (841538) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274081)

It was just posted to Digg yesterday is why it's showing up on Slashdot. /old news overflow

Re:TFA (3, Funny)

Eudial (590661) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274213)

TFA is dated 24 April, 2007 -- I'm pretty sure that this is old news.

Hmm, and it reaches us now. Assuming it traveled at the speed of light, it must have originated 1.25 lightyears away. It must have been sent from a relay station quarter of a way to Alpha Centauri.

Re:TFA (5, Funny)

shma (863063) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274427)

It's a dupe of a 2007 article. [slashdot.org] . No wait, it's a dupe of a 2007 dupe [slashdot.org] . Someone call the Guinness Book of World Records.

Re:TFA (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#24275055)

Someone call the Guinness Book of World Records.

I'm pretty sure that there is at least a triple dupe languishing somewhere in the Slashdot archives. But it's not raining hard enough for me to want to waste the time looking for it. Tell Guinness to hold that thought until next week.

Re:TFA (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#24275319)

Someone call the Guinness Book of World Records.

You must be new here, this one is barely in the top ten list. I particularly like it when they manage to put a dupe on the front page at the same time as the original and then again a few days later...

Re:TFA (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274747)

I was just getting ready to post asking how often we are going to see teams announcing "the most Earth-like planet yet," but hopefully that won't happen after all. (It still may; science has gotten to love the press-release a bit too much, I think.)

Re:TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24274899)

It is the same planet already dicussed in this article.
http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/18/1733243

Interesting find. (3, Interesting)

sneezinglion (771733) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273777)

I wonder how long before we can verify an earth like extrasolar planet?

As more of these are found we may be able to plug more data into drake's equation [wikipedia.org]

Re:Interesting find. (4, Interesting)

WibbleOnMars (1129233) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274049)

Since Drake's equation needs to know the proportions of stars with planets, it would require us to have known negative results as well as known positives in order for it to give any meaningful results.

At the moment, we can say there are a few hundred planets, out of maybe a few thousand stars that we've scanned, but for the stars where we haven't found anything, we don't know for sure whether that's because there isn't anything there, or because we just aren't looking hard enough.

Let me get this straight... (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273827)

From the blurb itself, it's five time the size of earth, it's revolving around a cooler sun than earth, and it might not have liquid water or a thick atmosphere. Yeah, that's exactly like earth!

Re:Let me get this straight... (0, Offtopic)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273903)

Yeah but maybe it's Bizarro earth where Barack is half-white instead of half-black.

Oh. Wait. Damn.

=Smidge=

Re:Let me get this straight... (4, Informative)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274033)

From the blurb itself, it's five time the size of earth, it's revolving around a cooler sun than earth, and it might not have liquid water or a thick atmosphere. Yeah, that's exactly like earth!

You're missing the point. By Earth-like they mean telluric planet, as in, not a gas giant. That's all. And that matters because until now we haven't found so many of them, most of the planets we've found were gas giants orbiting close to their star. But as time goes by we find ever decreasingly large planets that get closer and closer to the Earth in size.

Re:Let me get this straight... (2, Informative)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 6 years ago | (#24275231)


You're missing the point. By Earth-like they mean telluric planet, as in, not a gas giant.

In this case, they don't actually mean even this. From TFA:

"What we have," Udry says, "is the minimum mass of the planet and its separation" from its star.

They don't actually know if it's rocky. All that they know is that the mass is about right, and it's about close enough to a red dwarf for liquid water.

Re:Let me get this straight... (1, Funny)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274607)

It is located roughly at a point where it COULD have liquid water and it could have a thick atmosphere.
It may or may not.
But may is better than not a chance.
Seems like it would be worth pointing a radio telescope at and see if we find there version of I Love Lucie.

AND...... (-1, Offtopic)

WwWonka (545303) | more than 6 years ago | (#24273997)

....this discovery will affect the price of a gallon of gasoline and my ability to have a phone free of being wired tapped HOW?

Re:AND...... (1)

notgm (1069012) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274263)

you can move there.

Re:AND...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24274573)

AND moaning on /. will affect the price of a gallon of gasoline and your ability to have a phone free of being wired tapped HOW?

Maybe you should, you know, take some action yourself of instead of whining that nobody else is.

A better and more informative "article" ... (4, Informative)

Fallen Andy (795676) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274133)

can be found here [wikipedia.org] (Gliese 581) and here [wikipedia.org] (Gliese 581c). It's a sad day when wikipedia seems to be more reliable than SciAm, but oh well, the rot set in many years ago...

Andy

Re:A better and more informative "article" ... (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274169)

Considering the article is over a year old might have something to do with it too.

So, in other words... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24274139)

... they really don't know jack squat about this planet and they're just making wild speculations about it given the extremely tiny amount of gravitational aberration data that they've managed to collect with their instruments, which only really suggests anyway that there *might* be a planet of some certain mass and orbital radius there, if their instruments' measurement errors or perhaps some other gravitional phenominon aren't what they actually seeing anyway.

Better not take any chances (5, Funny)

sjonke (457707) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274229)

Invade!

Re:Better not take any chances (2, Funny)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274355)

What, do they have oil or something?

Re:Better not take any chances (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 6 years ago | (#24275261)

... just what I was thinking ... 5x Gravity == 5x Oil?

Are their housing and banking industries about to collapse?

Are their iPhones locked or bricked?

How good are the ISPs there? (Any aliens reading this might want to chime in here)

Does alien p0rn look like creepy Hentai stuff?

... and, of course, does the damn planet run Linux?!?!

Re:Better not take any chances (1)

mynickwastaken (690966) | more than 6 years ago | (#24275275)

Oil?!

Re:Better not take any chances (1)

martin_henry (1032656) | more than 6 years ago | (#24275357)

I vote we send som red LED-eyed cyborgs with advanced AI out there and wait for them to explore and come back to greet us nicely.

Who's with me?

Could also be (0)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274321)

They could have stated that it's the most Pluto-like extra-solar planet discovered, and been just as right. Just because it is a slightly closer match doesn't mean much. It is still not Earth-like enough to matter.

Re:Could also be (1)

dontPanik (1296779) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274403)

Pluto isn't within the range in which liquid water can exist on it, because it's too cold. These planets seem (or seemed) to be in the range.

What's the eccentricity of the orbit? (3, Interesting)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274443)

That's kind of important, I would think.

Hail! (1)

JazzmanSA80 (1230658) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274451)

Let me be the first to say, Hail to our alien overlords!

The team deserves a Steakhouse burger! (2, Funny)

stargazer_55 (1150931) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274501)

Give each member of the team of astronomers a Steakhouse burger from BK!

Re:The team deserves a Steakhouse burger! (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274679)

As much as I hate misappropriated technobabble I love that commercial [youtube.com] .

Red Dwarf sun? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24274539)

So this article is telling me that an earth-like planet, only more massive, is out there circling a red star? So if a being from that world came to our planet with a yellow sun.....

with seemingly super strength.........

awesome.

Earth-like for real? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24274555)

Unless they have insurance salesmen, garage door openers and Fanta, I'd be hesitant to call it Earth-like. Hacks.

Predator? (1)

morgauo (1303341) | more than 6 years ago | (#24274791)

Maybe the gravity is or isn't 5 X earth's due to altitude but I'm guessing it's significantly higher. If complex lifeforms can exist in such a heavy environment they would probably be tougher than the average human. Gilese 581 is a red-dwarf thus most of it's light is in the near-infrared. So... a lifeform with eyes would probably see infrared. So... I'm picturing an alien badass w/ nightvision... sound familiar?

If an earth-like planet lies among the stars.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24275013)

... and no one lives there, does it have hospitable conditions ?

they obviously havent seen Star Trek ... (1, Funny)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#24275063)

Captain Kirk found a new Earth-like planet almost every week. What was even more amazing was they were occupied by PEOPLE with 1960s haircuts and clothing.

Re:they obviously havent seen Star Trek ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24275229)

But the valiant Star Trek crew were always wiser and more noble than the inhabitants, despite the fact that they were so slow that the viewer had always worked out the plot before them. And despite the fact that Kirk was such a slut that some alien 'female' would certainly have killed him rather quickly when he let his guard down.

YAWWWN.... (0, Troll)

Temtongkek (975742) | more than 6 years ago | (#24275195)

How many "Earth-like" planets are we going to hear about that may or may not truly be Earth-like in the end? We don't know if it's rocky, we don't know if it has water, we don't know if it's a lump of chode floating about in space. Seriously, let us know when you've -confirmed- something. Asshats.

ugh... liquid water? (1)

emagery (914122) | more than 6 years ago | (#24275235)

that's a leap... the whole 'goldilocks' zone concept is fuzzy at best... an indicator, but not enough in itself; Take earth for example... we're NOT close enough to the sun to have liquid water by default. If the mantle cooled enough to end vulcanism, the atmosphere would grow thin, cold, and what water didn't freeze to the surface would seep down beneath the crust forever. Then take Europa... way way way too far from the sun for liquid water... and yet, due to internal stress, liquid water is not unlikely to be found there, under its crust of ice... the attributes of the body have as much if not more influence than the sun does (outside of being so close that the surface is thoroughly scorched, that is.)
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