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Earth-Like Planet That Could Sustain Life Found

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the guess-who's-coming-to-dinner dept.

Space 575

astroengine writes "An exoplanet, 20 to 50 percent the mass of Earth, has been discovered 20 light-years away and it appears to have all the ingredients conducive to sustaining life. It has enough gravitational clout to hold onto an atmosphere and it orbits well within the 'Goldilocks Zone' of its parent star. However, it would be a very different place to Earth; it is tidally locked to its star, creating one perpetual day on the world. Interestingly, this may also boost the life-giving qualities of the exoplanet, creating stable temperatures in its atmosphere."

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Good... (1, Interesting)

cbytes (1736804) | more than 3 years ago | (#33741928)

One less thing to worry about.

Re:Good... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33742250)

Niggers, delusional white trash, hard working but over-reproducing spicks, and Republican retards will ruin that planet as soon as we land.

Asians will finance the debacle while their peasants are exploited and starved to death.

Nerds will engineer it, and a clever few will profit from it.

Annddd.... (5, Funny)

Codename Dutchess (1782238) | more than 3 years ago | (#33741930)

This is where I stopped reading:

"Personally, given the ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever it can, I would say that the chances for life on this planet are 100 percent. I have almost no doubt about it," Steven Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at University of California Santa Cruz, told Discovery News.

Chances are 100%. Almost no doubt.

Re:Annddd.... (2)

durrr (1316311) | more than 3 years ago | (#33741968)

He would've been a douche had he he said chances are 99,9999999999999999999%, like any good scientist he made his argument understandable to the layman by rounding up.

Re:Annddd.... (4, Insightful)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33741990)

His argument doesn't really hold water. Sure, once you have life that can survive on a planet it's a bitch to keep it away from anywhere, but there's no guarantee that you'll get that life to begin with.

Re:Annddd.... (2)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742026)

Yes... 99.9999...% would be stupid, but 100% isn't better.

He should have just dropped the percentage quantification entirely then knowing that rounding up 'almost certain' to 'certain' glosses over a very important distinction. He could have just simply reported that he is "almost certain the planet will be found to have life" and left it at that.

Re:Annddd.... (2, Funny)

mikeabbott420 (744514) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742516)

I always thought Spocks ridiculous precision with fuzzy math was really "don't question me you pathetic dummies" because, I mean, for f*cks sake, Really?, that many decimal places of accuracy? ;)

The chances are pretty much zero (1, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742242)

Personally, given the ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever it can

We have only ONE place that we know life flourishes.

In addition, since the planet always has the same side facing the sun, the lack of tidal pumping means the crust of the planet is locked, which means no plate tectonics, which means no CO2 recycling, which means a Venus-like planet.

Sorry, but unless you can find life living with zero free water and temperatures hot enough to melt lead, fuggedaboudit.

The moon may be relevant (2, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742374)

the lack of tidal pumping means the crust of the planet is locked, which means no plate tectonics, which means no CO2 recycling, which means a Venus-like planet.

Right on. I would even add that perhaps the moon is fundamental to the creation of life.

There was a time when the moon was much closer to the earth, when tides were hundreds of meters high.

There are theories that life might have been created first when some clay crystals with the right shape got stuck with some complex organic molecules.

Maybe if there were no moon, then no complex organic molecules would have reached the right clays.

According to the accepted theories, the moon may have been created in a freak accident, when a Mars-sized planet hit the earth in the early solar system. The combination of a moon-forming impact with being right in the liquid water zone could be an improbable event.

How can they tell its tidally locked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33741942)

I get how they can discover planets by the stars wobble or transitting the star, but how can they tell the planets rate of spin?

Re:How can they tell its tidally locked? (5, Funny)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#33741958)

As an electrical engineer, I feel I have a fairly firm grasp on how people figure out a lot of these seemingly extremely complex things.

Magic.

Re:How can they tell its tidally locked? (2, Funny)

mirix (1649853) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742206)

Not just any magic, but black magic. RF is the same way, in your field.

Re:How can they tell its tidally locked? (2, Funny)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742398)

As an electrical engineer, I feel I have a fairly firm grasp on how people figure out a lot of these seemingly extremely complex things.

Magic.

As an electrical engineer, I feel I have a fairly firm grasp on how people figure out a lot of these seemingly magical things.

A sufficiently advanced technology.

Woooosh?

OK, OK, I know...

Re:How can they tell its tidally locked? (2, Informative)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742466)

The submitter should have included this bad boy [ucolick.org] (PDF) in his linkage. Expecting to see methodology on a discovery.com website? You'll have an easier time getting Steve Ballmer to cough up the source code for MS Office.

PS: As an EE, you should know the specific type of magic: It's most commonly referred to as FM.

Re:How can they tell its tidally locked? (3, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742236)

I don't know of any observational way to determine it at the distances involved (though there may be one), but if you make certain assumptions about the composition of the planet you can determine the maximum amount of time it takes to become tidally locked (basically, all orbiting bodies become tidally locked eventually, it's just a question of how long), and if that time is less than the time we can estimate the planet to have existed we can conclude that it SHOULD be tidally locked.

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidal_locking#Timescale [wikipedia.org]

Trivia (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33741944)

Star Trek fans will know such a planet as "Class M".

The "M" stood for Majel (Roddenberry nee Barrett) who, in Gene Roddenberry's words, "made his life possible".

Only 20 light years??? (4, Interesting)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 3 years ago | (#33741960)

20 light years is millimeters of astrophysical distance.

It amazes me we have been observing space so long and yet we only now have detected this planet.

It just goes to show how incredibly likely it is to find planets like Earth everywhere in the galaxy.

Re:Only 20 light years??? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33742094)

not that you're wrong about anything, but I think I just found the person that is higher than me...

Re:Only 20 light years??? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742372)

Something tells me that this planet is only "like" earth in that it's less different than the other ones. And that there'll be another hundred stories just like this in the coming decades. How "like" would like have to be for humans to step off a spaceship and live there? Quite a bit more earth-like than this, I'd imagine...

Re:Only 20 light years??? (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742380)

20 light years is millimeters of astrophysical distance.

Yep, we'll get there in no time! Just hop in the Ricer, put on a big-ass wing, a racing strip or two, slap a VTEC sticker on it, and maybe some speed holes, and we'll be there ASAP.

Roadless trip!

I say we go there and nuke the planet from orbit. It's the only way to be sure we don't have to welcome any new overlords. *shakes fist*

(did I hit the cliche limit yet?)

Re:Only 20 light years??? (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742456)

You forgot that the red wunz go faster.

Re:Only 20 light years??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33742384)

And here is where we need to swing the Kepler telescope over towards Gleise 581g.

If Kepler can see a planet 50 times the mass of Earth, 700 parsecs (2000~ lt.yrs) away, we should be able to get damn good look up close at this one.

Kepler 9c : 50+~E masses ; 2000~ ly
Gleise 581g : 3+E masses ; 20 ly

Also, that quote is not in the linked article.

Re:Only 20 light years??? (1)

DeKO (671377) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742396)

You missed "1.89210568 × 10^20" in between "is" and "millimeters".

Re:Only 20 light years??? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742408)

20 light years is millimeters of astrophysical distance.

It amazes me we have been observing space so long and yet we only now have detected this planet.

I don't know why. If a light year is a millimeter, a planet is less than a thousandth of a nanometer.

It just goes to show how incredibly likely it is to find planets like Earth everywhere in the galaxy.

No, it doesn't. Distance to us doesn't mean anything about abundance. Also, we don't even know that planet actually is Earth-like.

Don't get me wrong, optimism is good, it keeps us exploring. But if you leap to such erroneous conclusions, you're going to be disappointed when nothing big turns up over the course of the next 20 years.

Re:Only 20 light years??? (5, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742418)

20 light years is millimeters of astrophysical distance.

It amazes me we have been observing space so long and yet we only now have detected this planet.

This just goes to show you the difference in difficulty between finding a Jupiter-sized planet and an Earth-sized planet.

Re:Only 20 light years??? (3, Informative)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742484)

20 light years away gives a search area of about 13,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 cubic miles. Unless it is spewing massive amounts of radiation all of the time, things like that in that big of a search space are pretty hard to detect. And while 20 light years might be small by astronomical standards, human beings haven't even been two light *seconds* away from the earth.

Re:Only 20 light years??? (1)

uofitorn (804157) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742492)

We may have been starring at the stars for a long while but it's only until recently that we've had the methods to detect extra solar planets. Looks up on the discoveries of recent exoplanets and you'll find that it's not by direct observation but by indirect methods that we've "seen" these planets.

why do stable chances increase the likelyhood? (2, Insightful)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33741964)

Really.. I thought life & evolution and development thrived on change...

a little flooding, many die, some adapt
a little freezing, many die, some adapt.

more-- the 'kickstart' of inorganic->organic chemistry, presumably took some random event, a one in five gazzillion possible combination of elements, random elements- that likely would be less likely the more stable an environment it is..

nice flat temp? ya get algae & molds.... no need to improve right? why?

Re:why do stable chances increase the likelyhood? (3, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742012)

You'd be right only if evolution was merely a function of the environmental conditions. However, your algae and molds will also compete among themselves, leading to adaptation independently of the environment.

Re:why do stable chances increase the likelyhood? (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742370)

I for one welcome our new mold men overlords!

Re:why do stable chances increase the likelyhood? (4, Insightful)

jrumney (197329) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742016)

Look at where the most biodiverse regions are on Earth. They are in the equatorial zone, where the climate is stable.

Re:why do stable chances increase the likelyhood? (1)

insufflate10mg (1711356) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742406)

Nice try. You missed the part about where evolution arises from species naturally competing amongst each other as well.

Summary is wrong. (5, Informative)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33741970)

The summary is incorrect. The exoplanet has "a mass three times larger than Earth's", not 20% to 50%

Re:Summary is wrong. (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742090)

I don't even understand where those two percentages came from. There is nothing even in the article about that...

Sweet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33742110)

Anyone up for a pickup basketball game on 581g?

Re:Summary is wrong. (4, Informative)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742134)

If the two planets have similar density, then the mass ratio is simply the ratio of the volumes. Volume of a sphere is 4 pi R^3/3. Thus the volume ratio of the two planets is (R + x)^3/R^3 = 1 + 3(x/R) + 3(x/R)^2 + (x/R)^3. If you plot that function, you find that this ratio is between 2 and 3 when (x/R) is between 0.25 and 0.45, so that R + x is about 25%-45% bigger than R.

Re:Summary is wrong. (4, Funny)

meerling (1487879) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742316)

Who cares about volume or density at this point as both the summary and the article specify mass. The summary says 20%-50% the mass of Earth, while the article says 3x the mass of Earth, that would be 300%. No matter how you look at it, the summary screwed up big time.

Sorry, but your argument is like calculating the seating capacity of a car when the articles in question are discussing the top speed.

Re:Summary is wrong. (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742376)

Seems your reading comprehension is on par with samzenpus's.

Summary says

20 to 50% the mass of Earth

That means the exoplannet is supposedly less than half the mass of Earth, not 50% bigger in radius.

Re:Summary is wrong. (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742404)

Hint: I'm not trying to justify TFA's slashdot summary...

Re:Summary is wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33742210)

They must have changed the article. I clearly remember reading in it that the planet has 20 to 50% more mass than Earth.

Humans are so fragile...if only we were hardier (3, Interesting)

mykos (1627575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33741980)

Ethics aside, wouldn't it be easier to genetically modify humans to live in a wider variety of environments? Seems like it would be a far more reachable goal in the near term than getting to these distant planets.

Re:Humans are so fragile...if only we were hardier (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#33741988)

Like the Omar [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Humans are so fragile...if only we were hardier (1)

mykos (1627575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742050)

Yes! This is exactly the direction I think we can (and should) go to ensure our continued survival.

Re:Humans are so fragile...if only we were hardier (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742084)

How about this: some bizarre and slightly creepy subsection of the populace in a free society is given reign to pursue this lifestyle as part of a natural right. Then, in the course of human events, there is a terrible global catastrophe and everyone else dies, leaving only the Omar.

Fewer people is far more sustainable anyways.

Re:Humans are so fragile...if only we were hardier (5, Informative)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742054)

genetically modify humans to live in a wider variety of environments

That would never make it through the intergalactic genetic engineering subcommittee. Their chest-pumping and rhetoric would stop it before it hit the hull floor.

(Posted from the year 2089, see you guys soon! The future is great, but the space-beer is a little watered down.) Yankees win in 66, America is nuked by Eskimos in 70, and 89 is to be the year of the Linux holodeck neural interface.

Re:Humans are so fragile...if only we were hardier (1)

meiao (846890) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742420)

So, no year of the linux on desktops? What about DNF?

Re:Humans are so fragile...if only we were hardier (1)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742142)

Ethics aside, wouldn't it be easier to genetically modify humans to live in a wider variety of environments? Seems like it would be a far more reachable goal in the near term than getting to these distant planets.

Genetically modifying humans is an interesting idea but it didn't work out for the folks in Pandorum - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1188729/ [imdb.com]

Re:Humans are so fragile...if only we were hardier (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742144)

According to theory, we will need the survival capabilities of the cockroach to remain on this planet.

Success Story (4, Funny)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742298)

According to theory, we will need the survival capabilities of the cockroach to remain on this planet.

Well, there's lawyers covered, then.

Cheers,

Re:Humans are so fragile...if only we were hardier (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33742178)

Ethics aside, wouldn't it be easier to genetically modify humans to live in a wider variety of environments?

I think the better option would be to use huge, blue, remote controlled bodies which we can interface directly with our brains.

Re:Humans are so fragile...if only we were hardier (1)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742182)

Ethics aside, wouldn't it be easier to genetically modify humans to live in a wider variety of environments

No. Sure you could genetically engineer people to need slightly different percentage of oxygen, or to tolerate a little methane in an otherwise earthly atmosphere. But there is NO genetic engineering that could, within 100 lifetimes, allow people to live on Neptune. That is, without modifying Neptune.

Think of it this way, you can change one really big thing over time (a planet), or you can change one small line of really complex genetics over time for certain people to live on an unchanged planet. Which is more complex? Developing a "human" that can thrive breathing ammonia or sucking all the ammonia off planet and greenhousing the thing for a few generations? Both are technologically beyond our grasp at this point. But the question is, which idea is more complex to implement?

Learn to RTFA (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33741982)

"20 to 50 percent the mass of Earth" != "a mass three times larger than Earth's"

Time dilation woes. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33741994)

My math might be a little off, but if we accelerated at g half-way there and decelerated at g for the rest of the way, it would only take a ship about 6.04 years to get there. But thanks to Einstein ruining all our space travel fun with relativity, we of us left on Earth would think the journey took 21.86 years. So there and back would seem like 43.7 years to us.

Re:Time dilation woes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33742180)

how much fuel would that take?

Re:Time dilation woes. (1)

grub (11606) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742366)

Lots.

Re:Time dilation woes. (1)

zeropointburn (975618) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742386)

A few grams of antimatter. Less, if you use it as an energetic catalyst for fusion rather than just tiny bits of 'earth-shattering kaboom' in a magnetic containment field.
  If you're talking about chemical fuel, the short answer is no. If you're talking about nuclear fuel, the short answer is probably not.

Re:Time dilation woes. (1)

Drishmung (458368) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742480)

1,076,950 kg of anti-matter, plus an equal amount of matter to react with it.

E = m * a * d
If we use 104,328kg for the mass, then that's 1.94E+23J at 1g acceleration for 20ly.

E = mc^2
m = 1.94E+23/(c*c), halved if you pick up your matter in the form of space dust on the way.

Re:Time dilation woes. (5, Informative)

Drishmung (458368) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742334)

Assuming the vessel had the mass of the space shuttle, at 1g the energy required to do that would be approximately 2,304,558,096 times the Nagasaki A-bomb.

m = 104,328kg
a = g = 9.80665ms^-2
20ly = 1.89E+17m
Nagasaki A-bomb = 80TJ.

Re:Time dilation woes. (1)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742336)

Your math for time is fine. Now go back and calculate how much fuel (don't care what fuel source - just mass) you are going to use.
P.S. The rest of us would appreciate it if you keep our moon in it's present orbit. Have a nice trip!

And the odds of habitable aren't that great (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33741998)

Tidally locked means that even with an atmosphere the dark side will be *very* cold and
most of the water will likely end up frozen on the dark side of the planet.

Re:And the odds of habitable aren't that great (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742140)

A good point, but of course it would depend on how think the atmosphere was. A think atmosphere might circulate in a way to move enough heat to the dark side to keep the water liquid. I wonder if anyone has done weather simulations on tidally locked planets - the Coriolis effects are very weak and you might get very interesting weather patterns.

You could also have an anti-solar ice cap, but with enough total water the glaciers might flow towards and melt on the sunlit side.

Life can exist on earth in a wide variety of climates, including very dry areas, but it isn't clear what conditions are required for it to evolve initially.

Re:And the odds of habitable aren't that great (4, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742352)

There's no free water - it's all a sulfuric acid haze. Spin-locked planets don't have enough tidal stress to drive plate tectonics [ucla.edu] , so there's no recycling of CO2 - all the CO2 that's in limestone, etc., that gets subducted? It gets baked out into the atmosphere instead. You end up with YAV - Yet Another Venus.

We're here not just because we're in the Goldilocks zone, but also because we're a double-planet (earth and moon). Lots of gravitational stress to help encourage crustal slip along fault lines, and free water to help with the slippage. A runaway greenhouse effect caused by much higher CO2 concentrations converts the water to H2SO4. Once the water is gone (it's still liquid at depth even at 150C because of the pressure), the plates lock up completely, and you get Venus.

Space sucks (0, Offtopic)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742002)

Space sucks because there's no screwin', no drinkin', and no smokin'

On second thought, with our loss of liberties, earth will soon suck, too.

Life (?) (4, Insightful)

tanujt (1909206) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742010)

Just 20 light years away is good news! One thing that always bothers me when I read about E.T. life, is the fact that we get excited when we find water or an Earth-like atmosphere somewhere, thinking there should/might be life there. We should factor in the possibility that life may evolve entirely differently from us, without requiring water or nitrogen/oxygen. In that case though, we can't really know how it will have evolved as we have no reference of evolution other than ours. So let's wait, or just go there as soon as we can as aliens.

conflict of the masses (0, Redundant)

Odinlake (1057938) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742024)

With a mass three times larger than Earth's, the newly discovered world has the muscle to hold atmosphere. (article)

An exoplanet, 20 to 50 percent the mass of Earth, has been discovered 20 light-years away... (summary)

My limited imagination has problems seeing how such a misstake can come about. Is the summary from a completely different article than what it links to? I also like

I would say that the chances for life on this planet are 100 percent

...as a good example of how to pull numbers out of your butt.

Venus and Mars (5, Insightful)

AJWM (19027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742034)

Venus and Mars are also rocky "Earthlike" planets orbiting roughly in the habzone ("goldilocks" zone).

I'd like to see truly terrestrial planets as much as (more than, probably) the next guy, but I think the reportage here is a bit hyped. Especially given a ~3x mass, that gives it roughly 1.44x the surface gravity (and higher likelihood of a Venus-like atmosphere).

Re:Venus and Mars (1)

cupantae (1304123) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742240)

I think it's important to point out the two sides of the two sides of "it's just an article" here:

1) There may be more information about how the planet "could sustain life" that is omitted on grounds of being too technical.

but

2) Journalists are paid to bring revenue in to the publication, not to report the news, so maybe this is a lot of hype over something less spectacular.

Re:Venus and Mars (3, Informative)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742252)

Also not mentioned is that Gilese 581 is class M red dwarf star with a radiation output very different from that of the Sun. The lack of UV light and greater amount of infrared light may have implications for the ability for life to develop.

The star's small power output is why a planet with an orbital period of only 37 days (Mercury orbits in 88 days, for comparison) can be in the habitable zone.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilese_581 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Venus and Mars (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742290)

Venus and Mars are also rocky "Earthlike" planets orbiting roughly in the habzone ("goldilocks" zone).

If that's true, we really need to tighten up the width of the habzone.

Because Venus is unfeasibly hot and Mars, despite all the woo, is unfeasibly cold. We can only "hab" on them in the same way we'd "hab" in deep space: in a temperature-controlled canister of our own construction.

Re:Venus and Mars (2, Interesting)

DirePickle (796986) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742442)

Venus is hotter than Earth by so much (even hotter than Mercury!) because of its atmosphere, not because of its distance to the sun. I think that given the right atmosphere and tectonic activity and whatnot, Venus could have actually been a very Earth-like place.

I could just be talking out of my ass, though.

Re:Venus and Mars (2, Informative)

zeropointburn (975618) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742470)

For those specific planets, sure. However, the right combination of atmosphere and gravity would result in a human-habitable planet at those ranges. Habitability isn't just mean solar distance, it's whether or not water can exist in all three common states. If you're so far away (or so close) that the gravity + atmosphere required to see water ice and water vapor would render the planet uninhabitable, then you're outside the zone.
This is of course probably not the official word on the subject, but the 'zone of habitability' covers situations which do not occur in our solar system but would render recognizable life possible.

Spin up the stargate and dial it! (2)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742046)

Spin up the stargate and dial it!

lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33742304)

I'm absolutly baffled that this kind of comments are so rare on slashdot.

But at this rate of discovery, it wont be that long before the Stargate series needs to adapt to the real world, eh.

Get your ass to Gliese 581g! (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742058)

It just doesn't have that "ring." Do you have another name for it?

Re:Get your ass to Gliese 581g! (1)

tanujt (1909206) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742114)

Gliese 581g had the ring. Saturn just took it. He's a jerk.

It just doesn't have that "ring." Do you have another name for it?

Alien astronomers (2, Informative)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742086)

What are the odds that alien astronomers on that world are having their exact same story posted on Alien Slashdot®!?

Re:Alien astronomers (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742116)

50% either it does or it doesn't~

Re:Alien astronomers (3, Funny)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742256)

0%. I logged in there ready to make the same joke Dutchmaan did and couldn't find it.

Available Amenities (2, Funny)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742120)

Well, since the star's only 20 light years away and the previous post noted that the Aussies are testing "Space Beer", you can sign me up for the trip. Maybe by the time we get back the Toronto Maple Leafs will have won the Stanley Cup.

OK, OK, I'm kidding about the Leafs.

Re:Available Amenities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33742344)

Spoken like a true Leafs fan. Always believing, (I'm NOT spelling it "that" way) but still jaded.

The day Hell freezes over, the Leafs won't win Lord Stanley's Cup. Harold Ballard will wake up bitching about the cold, riding the pale fourth horse of the apocalypse, and curse the 6 men in blue & white on the ice. That's why praying never works if you're a Leafs fan, because Harold Ballard is the devil. :)

Re:Available Amenities (1)

grub (11606) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742390)


Maybe by the time we get back the Toronto Maple Leafs will have won the Stanley Cup.

or Winnipeg will have the Jets back!

remember we are using 20 yr old data (4, Insightful)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742172)

intriguing is the fact that we are studying the planet as it was 20 years ago, not as it is present day. In roughly 100 years we've managed to screw up this planet to no end. Things could be quite different on gliese 581g at this moment and we would not know it. Assuming we could travel at the speed of light and made it there in 20 years, the inhabitants may have already turned most of the planet to concrete and smog. If it is indeed inhabited.

...could sustain life. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33742184)

So could the sun. If it weren't so damn hot.

Not to piss in their cornflakes but... (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742200)

Wherever you are on this planet, the sun is in the same position all the time. You have very stable zones where the ecosystem stays the same temperature... basically forever

Unless the planet has moons (causing wind and ocean currents), or geological activity, or the sun's energy varies (sunspots, solar wind), or about a hundred other things that cause weather. Seems to me one side constantly being pummeled by sunlight wouldn't be anything but a desert. Maybe a ring of habitability around the area where the light side meets the dark side. But that's not really my field of expertise so take this with a grain of salt.

Re:Not to piss in their cornflakes but... (1)

blixel (158224) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742476)

Regarding the planet's moon (or lack thereof), Axial tilt [wikipedia.org] and Axial precession [wikipedia.org] become a question as well.

Another issue is the magnetic field. As in, does it have one? Without a magnetic field, the solar wind strips away the atmosphere. (As is believed to be what happened on Mars [nasa.gov] .)

So is this where... (2, Funny)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742218)

So is this were those Grey bastards come from? The ones who keep abducting me, and sticking probes up my ass!

Re:So is this where... (1)

speedingant (1121329) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742302)

If you can remember it, or are still alive, they're doing it wrong.

temperature (2, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742246)

"Interestingly, this may also boost the life-giving qualities of the exoplanet, creating stable temperatures in its atmosphere."

I don't get why that boosts life-giving qualities.

Having unstable temperatures in our atmosphere doesn't seem to have impeded life.

In fact stable temperatures may be a bad thing.

It takes instability to produce the mixing of organic molecules that result in biomass. Lightning. Tidal flow. Wind.

But there's no indication this new planet lacks those. Except the tidal part. Unless it has a big moon. And water.

Packup up all the hair dressers and civil servants (1)

justhatched (1291470) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742282)

The B-Ark now has a destination!

I work with 2 of the authors (5, Interesting)

Theory of Everything (696787) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742284)

I actually work quite closely with 2 of the authors of the paper that reports these results. Any questions? I'll try to respond to posts between now and 2 October.

50%? more like 300%. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33742286)

Slashdot "An exoplanet, 20 to 50 percent the mass of Earth, has been discovered 20 light-years away and it appears.."

Article "With a mass three times larger than Earth's, the newly discovered world has the muscle to hold atmosphere. Plus, it has the gift of time. Not only is its parent star especially long-lived, the planet is tidally locked to its sun -- similar to how the moon keeps the same side pointed at Earth -- so that half the world is in perpetual light and the other half in permanent darkness. As a result, temperatures are extremely stable and diverse."

???

  We still aren't good at detecting earth sized planets but this is pretty close. I think tidally locked is a bit of a bummer (electromagnetic field), and being so close could be interesting for flares etc even concidering its star. Still excellent place to send a probe. If not for this particular planet it may have a more suitable moon or something hiding in its system.20 ly is still within reasonable probing capability (we could build a probe today that would be able to get there within a few hundred years and last that long to do it).

We should start building interstellar launching capability now. A rail gun around the moon that accellerate probes and shoots them out. Do it at the equator so you get orbital/distance benifit. Give an extra 66km/s boost at 10g. Give that probe an engine and a few slingshots from planets and your talking over 100 km/s. 100 G launch velocity and you are up to 200 km/s starting point. Not to mention a great way of launching things from luna to earth orbit.

  Soon the perfect planet will be found. Oxygen, nitrogen, atmosphere, magenetosphere, sort of planet you could land on and take off your helmet and suck in the air. Pref 20 Ly away.. Will we venture to it? Run away from it? Probe it? blow it up? Fight over it? Attack it? Colonise it? What would we do?

Re:50%? more like 300%. (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742508)

Yeah, I think there is some confusion here. The MSNBC article [msn.com] states "If the planet has a rocky composition like Earth's, it would be 1.2 to 1.4 times as wide as our own planet, qualifying it as a "super-Earth.""

That's the problem with science articles on the general web, many skip facts that others contain. Even PhysOrg didn't seem to bother with this estimation but god only knows who's predicting this kind of thing too.

In any case, we are much too early on to think about sending anything it's way. We have so much we can do with observation today before we go launching anything. And in just a few years we'll gain even more insight from James Webb once it's in place. Let's no go off half cocked on this.

ok... let me say this again: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33742324)

besides for the general assumption that life needs an energy source, water in some form, and about 20 or so elements... all of our knowledge and understanding is based on a sample size of ONE. when and hopefully if we do discover extraterrestrial life it may be very similar or very different, which basically for right now means nothing.

here's hoping that within my lifetime we will find *something*. and my guess is it will be indirect evidence from things like the terrestrial planet finder, etc. we aren't getting there to see fissionable prokaryotic cells anytime soon. and little green men are almost an several orders of magnitude further away.

I'm rich. (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742332)

I just won a wager with a colleague we'd find something like this in our lifetimes. My mind is still boggling.

Science FTW. Isn't it just awesome that humanity can detect something similar to size of earth tens of light years away, with methods that are highly limited and a very tiny focus of our total scientific endeavour. Queue frenzied rush on exoplanet research.

Who won, who lost? (1)

mcneely.mike (927221) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742452)

So does he have to sleep with you, or you with him?

bored now, with space exploration (2, Interesting)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742416)

I'm much more interested in the possibilities of exploring alternate Earths. Somewhere, I'm just SURE I'll find a world where everyone in the U.S. uses the evolved form of the Amiga, with Dvorak keyboards in Esperanto. And the metric system. I'm dying for a McDonalds Royale (hold the cheese and pickles), with a medium Dr. Pepper with pure cane sugar (no ice).

Maybe the alternate world in Fringe will be a good start, only less fascist. I love the dirigibles and the NYC skyline.

Girls (1)

mcneely.mike (927221) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742422)

I'm 100% sure that the girls there will have 3 breasts: I'm almost positive! Of course they won't look good unless they're young, tall and have long arms...

Of course, if Kirk's been there already, it'll all just be sloppy seconds.

Don't get your panties in a bunch /. peeps (1)

sdguero (1112795) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742496)

This appears to be the closest, semi-habital planet outside our solar system we have found so far. So all the haters taking about tides, 3x earth mass etc... just chill out. This is a great find and hopefully the data we get back the gravitational shifting will help us find more of these in the near future.

Wow (4, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#33742502)

My what exciting times we live in. Just think... it has only been around 100 years since we realized the universe is organized into galaxies. Only a few hundred since we realized that the Earth is not the center of the universe. Sometimes it is hard to have faith in the future... but discoveries like this touch that small part of me that hasn't become jaded.

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