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NASA Finds Family of Habitable Planets

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the welcome-to-the-neighborhood dept.

Earth 184

coondoggie writes "NASA's star-gazing space telescope continues to find amazing proof that there are tons of habitable planets in space and we have only scratched the surface of what's out there. The space agency said today its Kepler space telescope spotted what it called its first Earth-size planet candidates and its first candidates in what it considers to be the habitable zone, a region where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface. Kepler also found six confirmed planets orbiting a sun-like star, Kepler-11. This is the largest group of transiting planets orbiting a single star yet discovered outside our solar system."

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Overlords (1)

j35ter (895427) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085396)

...how many are there then?

Re:Overlords (1)

JavaBasedOS (1217930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085452)

This [space.com] tells us that 57 were identified in 2009. It could have grown since then.

Re:Overlords (3, Funny)

aBaldrich (1692238) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085456)

There's only one of me

Re:Overlords (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085462)

Overlords ...how many are there then?

Consider 170 billion galaxies out there, assume one per galaxy to come to the conclusion: E_N_O_U_G_H.

CC.

Re:Overlords (0)

stealth_finger (1809752) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085868)

...how many are there then?

Over nine thousAANNNNNDDDD!

Re:Overlords (4, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086400)

There were 10, but I just got an instruction saying "Spawn more overlords!"

Okay, hold on a minute. (4, Insightful)

2muchcoffeeman (573484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085458)

Can we call them "potentially habitable planets" instead of going all the way to "habitable" that quickly? I think I'd like to make sure of certain things before being so definite -- for instance: water, temperature, oxygen levels, lack of poisonous gases making the oxygen-level issue moot, edible flora and/or fauna, radiation levels ... hmmm, could be here awhile ...

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35085480)

Right... because if they had edible flora... oh wait! *face palm*

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (1)

marco.antonio.costa (937534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086092)

Lol, someone mod this up quick. ;-)

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (2)

ulzeraj (1009869) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085484)

Agreed. Venus is an Earth-sized planet in a relatively good distance from its parent star. It doesn't have a decent magnetic shield to deflect radiation from its parent star and its atmosphere is a greenhouse hell.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (2)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085522)

Venus, with its temperature above 400ÂC fails the "liquid water could exist on a planet's surface" requirement.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (4, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085606)

It is borderline good as far as its orbit is concerned (indeed, maybe it even had oceans of water few billion years ago, perhaps even some biosphere). And for some time, we'll know only the orbits of Kepler planets / that's why some of them are considered to be in the habitable zone.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (1)

ulzeraj (1009869) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085612)

Yeah but correct me If I'm wrong. The point is that Venus can't have water because: it doesn't have a magnetic field (can't hold hydrogen) and its extreme greenhouse effect that its atmosphere produces. Life as we know on a planet does not depend entirely of its distance from its parent star.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (3, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085736)

It's not about magnetic field. What exactly happened to Venus isn't quite clear of course, but one of more likely hypotheses is that Venus was too small to sustain plate tectonics (Earth might be borderline [harvard.edu] ) - which could help with a runaway greenhouse effect.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (2)

ulzeraj (1009869) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085788)

Yeah what I know is along the lines of that theory. Its lack of plate tectonics destabilized the dynamo thingie that on the case of earth, generates the magnetosphere that deflects the solar wind. I'm not an expert on the field. Quoting from wikipedia:

"On Venus, a global resurfacing event may have shut down plate tectonics and led to a reduced heat flux through the crust. This caused the mantle temperature to increase, thereby reducing the heat flux out of the core. As a result, there is not an internal geodynamo that can drive a magnetic field. Instead the heat energy from the core is being used to reheat the crust"

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (2)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085834)

But that simply tells about the history of Venusian magnetic field; nothing there about effects of its lack for real habitability (yeah, it could be somewhat tougher - but nothing too dramatic, especially in an ocean) ... other possible effect, stripping of the atmosphere, isn't much of an issue - if anything, Venus has way too much of an atmosphere.

Lack of carbon cycle, lack of working carbon sinks OTOH... (perhaps)

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (2)

ulzeraj (1009869) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085930)

Thats what I'm trying to say. Without a magnetosphere the solar wind would disassociate the planet's liquid water and cause all its hydrogen to escape into space. That is one of the reasons we can't say that there is life on a certain planet without taking into consideration various elements from its star (i.e. some red dwarfs tend to be very unstable), planetary mass etc.
Yeah Its a start but living on a system with 3 "earth-like" planets where only 1 of them attained a stable echosystem shows us that there is more to it than just check if its on the goldilocks zone.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086110)

Hold up ... I've never heard anyone claim that it's the magnetic field which keeps hydrogen from escaping. AFAIK it's simple gravity which keeps our atmosphere in place. Given a large enough planetary body, I'm having a hard time imagining hydrogen atoms reaching escaping velocity, regardless of what kind of radiation they're being bombarded with. You got a source for that?

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (2, Informative)

ulzeraj (1009869) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086202)

Here: http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Venus_Express/SEM0G373R8F_0.html [esa.int] I think the lameness filter detected my first reply but wathever heh. I watched on a short video called "The Asteroid that Flattened Mars" (I think you can easily google it) about similar effects on Mars triggered not by geological conditions of course but by an impact catastrophe.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086134)

It's not clear solar wind works to such a degree... (certainly not regarding disassociation, that's the work of electromagnetic radiation; magnetosphere doesn't protect from it)

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (5, Interesting)

babtras (629678) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085960)

I suppose the Earth being potentially borderline habitable may have something to do with the apparent lack of evidence of extraterrestrials. A planet that is too friendly to life may not have had the 6+ mass extinctions and rapidly changing environment that helps drive evolution. One that's borderline habitable like ours (assuming the assertion in your link is true) keeping life for as long as it has might be a tremendous fluke.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (5, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086118)

It's not for a lack of trying... [wikipedia.org] Generally, "habitable" and "promoting complex life" are probably two different things (for one, comfortably habitable (by the criteria from my link) planets might be, from certain point on, way too active for stable complex ecosystems). And "promoting intelligence" - another thing. "Leading to technological civilization" - yet another. That might be enough of an explanation. We're here for a blink of an eye, so far.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (2, Interesting)

mopomi (696055) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086508)

Venus is basically the same size as the Earth.
Earth's mean radius is 6,371 km. Venus' mean radius is 6052 km.
The masses are also similar, as are their compositions.

A more likely control on whether plate tectonics may be initiated is the existence of liquid water at the surface and within the lithosphere of the planet in question. Water greatly reduces the yield strength of plates (by as much as 62% when going from low to moderate temperatures compared with a drop of only 39% for dry olivine). So, while plate tectonics seems to be necessary for life, water (necessary for life) may be necessary for plate tectonics. Venus is just at the range from the Sun where it could have lost all of its water too quickly for plate tectonics to initiate (especially if it lost the water long before the planet was mostly still molten).

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086692)

Venus is quite a bit less massive, 80% of Earth (the event which created the Moon probably stirred things up too / we ought to have much larger and more active core). That seems good enough if Earth were to be a borderline case (plus, @water... yes, and for borderline planets even small differences of other factors (like - water content) could make a huge impact. That's kinda the point of "borderline...)

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (2)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085932)

Venus can't hold hydrogen because at that temperature a sufficiently high percentage of hydrogen atoms have velocities above the escape velocity of the planet.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (2)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085624)

character encoding fail

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085672)

It's only that hot -- hotter than the surface of Mercury -- because of its atmosphere.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (3, Funny)

Rinnon (1474161) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085492)

Can we call them "potentially habitable planets" instead of going all the way to "habitable" that quickly? I think I'd like to make sure of certain things before being so definite -- for instance: water, temperature, oxygen levels, lack of poisonous gases making the oxygen-level issue moot, edible flora and/or fauna, radiation levels ... hmmm, could be here awhile ...

I don't see how that would help Nasa get more funding.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086152)

Just wait until they discover seas of crude oil.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (3, Funny)

nofx_3 (40519) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086292)

We've known about hydrocarbon seas on Titan for a couple years now and we have yet to invade...

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (2)

Walzmyn (913748) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085602)

Thank you. All they've found is a certain wobble in light from a distant star. They have inferred lots and lots but *know* practically nothing about these planets. I'm getting really tired of all different branches of science saying with exact certitude what they can only guess at.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085636)

I am getting really used (what? They are old news, here since who-knows-when, and won't be gone before by death) to people belittling all scientific achievements because some of them run counter to their "opinions"...

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (2)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085744)

It's amusing seeing people do this. Somehow they think their opinion is more informed than someone who has dedicated a life to astronomy and the science behind it.

Maybe they should meet some astronomers and give their opinions... then they will learn why their opinions are incorrect and ill-informed.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (3, Informative)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085716)

Actually, these planets were discovered because they transit between their star and us (not by the star wobbling).

I would be surprised if they were habitable, given that they're all less that .5 AU from their star (which is 95% as big as the sun). See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler-11 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086336)

And since they transit between us and the star they can see changes in the spectroscopy of the star, and by extension what kind of atmosphere, etc, those planets have.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (5, Informative)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086014)

It's not that hard to understand.

If you can observe a planet with a few different methods, you can reliably calculate it's mass and radius from the size it appears, it's orbital period and inclination, the effect it exerts on the star, and other data points.

Once you have the mass and radius, you can calculate the density, which allows you to speculate on whether it is rocky or gaseous. This in turn opens up other informed analyses of the conditions that might be present given it's distance to the star and other factors.

It's atmospheric composition can also be determined with spectroscopy.

If you really think astronomers are just guessing, you couldn't be more wrong. It's true that there is a lot that we don't know about these planets, but what we do is built on a solid mathematical foundation.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (1)

Walzmyn (913748) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086950)

I understand the difference between a WAG (wild assed guess) and a scientific hypothesis. But you used the word speculate yourself. At the very least this could have been couched with a "might" or a "maybe". I didn't read TFA, maybe they did and it wasn't in the synopsis. I just get bothered when there is a report of exact certitude when there could be multiple explanations for what they have observed.
Another example, the people telling us the world's weather is going to be a specific number of degrees hotter or colder in a decade. They can't even accuratly predict a week out.
No matter how accurately we can observe an exoplanet from Earth, at this distance, most of that interpreted data is not much better than a guess.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35085642)

Misleading summary...

Five of the planets orbiting Kepler-11 would be inside the orbit of Mercury if they were in the solar system, and the sixth one is roughly the size of Jupiter, and would be orbiting somewhat outside the orbit of Mercury. None of these seem very habitable to me. The star in that system is only slightly less massive than the sun, slightly larger in diameter, and a trifle cooler (based on the wikipedia article). It's habitable zone should be quite similar to that of our sun, so I seriously doubt that any of those planets are habitable.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (-1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085756)

Did you even read the article? Wait, it's slashdot, of course you didn't.

Also, using wikipedia to dispute new science is kind of... well... retarded.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (1)

equex (747231) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085746)

I don't know exactly what this telescope can see, but I hope it can detect magnetic fields. If a planet doesn't have that it will most likely be fried by radiation. Also it is an indicator that the planet is not geologically active.

The article != the actual NASA press release (5, Informative)

Noren (605012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085770)

It's not NASA's fault, the actual press release says nothing of the sort.

The NASA press release [nasa.gov] described a system of at least 6 larger -than-earth planets, all much closer to their sun than Earth is. Late in the release, they mention that "Kepler will continue conducting science operations until at least November 2012, searching for planets as small as Earth, including those that orbit stars in the habitable zone, where liquid water could exist on the surface of the planet. Since transits of planets in the habitable zone of solar-like stars occur about once a year and require three transits for verification, it is predicted to take at least three years to locate and verify an Earth-size planet. "

Then Michael Cooney appears to have invented from whole cloth the title, "NASA Kepler finds family of habitable, Earth-size planets". I do have to admit that the Slashdot title is pretty close to the Cooney source, but the article is... not even close to what it claims to be its source material.

Re:The article != the actual NASA press release (1)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086566)

I think that Cooney is mixing up the planets around Kepler-11 with other planets which might be in their stars' habitable zones (but NASA is waiting for them to transit again to make sure they have the orbital periods right).

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35085832)

NASA announced they found several candidate planets with temperatures where liquid water could exist, that sounds properly qualified to me. Of course they have no idea whether megafauna (which I gather is what the general public is most interested in) is present in any of them - that's because they just discovered these things.

Scientists, of course would be ecstatic to discover flora or fauna of any kind, except perhaps for megafauna with an addiction to watching bad television programs.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (2)

ThePeices (635180) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085836)

No, the definition of "habitable zone" is the zone around a star where liquid water can exist on the surface of the planet. Thats it.

What we know from life on Earth is that liquid water was/is absolutely essential to the development of life as we know it. If life can arise here, it can arise elsewhere. You just need the right conditions and elements/chemicals.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (2)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085934)

Can we call them "potentially habitable planets" instead of going all the way to "habitable" that quickly? I think I'd like to make sure of certain things before being so definite -- for instance: water, temperature, oxygen levels, lack of poisonous gases making the oxygen-level issue moot, edible flora and/or fauna, radiation levels ... hmmm, could be here awhile ...

You aren't wrong, but with the exception of a Mars-style magnetic field failure causing no atmosphere, the following are true:

  1. - If the planet is in the goldilocks zone of it's star and the size is approximately right it should be able to hold an atmosphere at a reasonable pressure.
  2. - If the planet can hold an atmosphere of a reasonable pressure, water will be stable.
  3. - Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the known universe, so assuming there is oxygen present (even in the form of oxides) we can make water.
  4. - Oxygen is also insanely common, and non volatile (that means it bonds to metals, etc). There is going to be oxygen on any planet in the goldilocks zone.
  5. - If the planet is in the goldilocks zone, the temperature will be acceptable (at the very least, around a ring).
  6. - Poisonous gases can be eliminated from any existing atmosphere using chemical cleaning. (I'm sure we'll have this licked by the time we're doing interstellar anything)
  7. - Radiation shielding is something we already do on our own planet (we constantly shield ourselves from UV, though in all fairness UV isn't lethal on the short term).

Again, you aren't wrong to lean towards skeptical; but "habitable" in an astronomical context doesn't mean "ready to move in tomorrow".

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35085940)

Can we call them "potentially habitable planets" instead of going all the way to "habitable" that quickly? I think I'd like to make sure of certain things before being so definite -- for instance: water, temperature, oxygen levels, lack of poisonous gases making the oxygen-level issue moot, edible flora and/or fauna, radiation levels ... hmmm, could be here awhile ...

Your thinking is a little biased toward a limited definition of life. H2SO4 is used for energy to support life on this planet. What is there to stop other forms of liquid from becoming life sustaining. Even planets with gravity stronger and atmospheres denser where it is impossible to sustain our chemical/physical environmental needs, might sustain other forms of life as we have yet to know it. Jump outside common reasoning which is purely set from an aqueous environment point of view and may not be how things work in all the rest of the universe.

Seti is also out to lunch because of dogma and a staid, stale attitude. Any civilisation advanced enough to send signals out into space would definitely not be sending them out there as a means of getting in touch, all seti could ever hope to receive is extremely ancient and incredibly weak re broadcasts of things like I Love Lucy.

Any advanced life form out there that wished to make itself know to the rest of the galaxy would find something better than rf emr at the speed of light.

If my calculations are correct there should be forms of waves that are not emr as we know it. They would have wave lengths that would be multiples of the speed of light with a wave length proportional to the frequency created. If these extra long waves at various frequencies do exist the only reason why we cannot receive them is we do not have the equipment or long enough node cluster antenna technology out in space to receive them as they would not be travelling at the light barrier.

Sooner or later a group of space craft out there will discover anomalies that cannot be explained by relativity or modern emr theory. If the signals broadcast between nodes in space are not received at the exact correct time then one could theorise that the signal itself has acted as a tuned antenna and the time difference between what is expected and what actually occurs is really a signal. The idea is to essentially use radio waves in a vacuum as an enormous antenna.

Just another idea from a crackpot that thinks that there might just be some way of creating communications that travel faster than the speed of light. Which as any educated individual will tell you is impossible and has been proven impossible by all the egg head astro physicists that control scientific research and spread the dogma of the universal light speed barrier. Of course they make an exception for the first moments after the big bang but what the heck their laws are theirs to break.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086064)

How about "within a nominal range on at least one attribute necessary for habitability of life of the sort we theorize we are".

Sometimes you have to wonder if before the Internet there was a broadsheet version of /. sold on streetcorners by dirty-faced, loud-voiced kids in plus-fours, suspenders, and snap-brim caps.

But no, couldn't be. It would have been tabloid...

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086808)

actually, other elements for life are implied by the very existence of a *rocky* planet in the "habitable zone". did you know carbon, nitrogen, iron, phosphorous MUST be there also? It has to do with the nature of the ash of stars.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (1)

HeLLFiRe1151 (743468) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086284)

What we consider habitable on Earth doesn't mean it's necessary on another planet. You could possibly find life that breathes Methane or swims in sulfuric acid out there.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (2)

JavaBear (9872) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086370)

Did anyone say anything about the planets being HUMAN habitable?

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086544)

They are most certainly habitable. There is no doubt. The only questions is if humans could inhabit them. The title is correct.

Re:Okay, hold on a minute. (1)

Lanteran (1883836) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086722)

Thank you. To some scientist looking up from another star, venus and mars could very well appear to be habitable.

There's a *app for that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35085464)

http://exoplanet.hanno-rein.de/iphone/

and if we're smart (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085466)

we'll be veeeeeery quiet, hoping no one notices :)

Pokes to the eye of planetary formation theories (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35085496)

All those hot jupiters and high-mass planets inside the equivalent of a mercury orbit.

Get cracking boys. Lots of stuff to right and rewrite.

Yes... (0)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085510)

but will it still be inhabitable after the 1 billion light years it takes to get there?

Re:Yes... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085572)

Light year is a unit of distance, not time.

In one billion years (what you almost certainly meant), Earth itself will be most likely uninhabitable (if nature takes its course). But it shouldn't take us that long to reach the stars at which Kepler is looking (few hundred light years away, iirc), assuming we'll ever venture out - even with a gradual approach of slowly spreading throughout the Oort cloud (one of more likely ones, IMHO), and with some groups eventually hitching a ride via clouds of passing stars, colonization of whole galaxy would be very rapid in geological terms.

Re:Yes... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085666)

But it shouldn't take us that long to reach the stars at which Kepler is looking (few hundred light years away, iirc

They are 2000 light years away which, considering we're having trouble even getting things into orbit of our own planet, puts them absolutely out of reach. While perhaps some people will take comfort becoming extinct in the knowledge of what we could have done had the laws of physics been different, unless someone invents a magical way to bridge such distance I doubt the human race will ever make it there.

Re:Yes... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085784)

Don't think in terms of orchestrated, direct journeys. Our first venture out of Eastern Africa wasn't a jump to Hawaii.

Whether we'll do it or not - we can't know of course. But when not being obsessed about inner planetary systems, when thinking in timescales of civilization (and not of human life) - many things become much more plausible.

Re:Yes... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35085904)

Embryonic colonization is just a matter of time. If we _ever_ get humans to _any_ other star systems, then we're practically guaranteed to eventually reach systems 2000 ly away.

Re:Yes... (0)

Silpher (1379267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085620)

Light years measures distance not time.. It's slashdot I'm allowed to bitch about this..

Re:Yes... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35085648)

"Light year" is a unit of distance, not time.

Re:Yes... (-1, Redundant)

equex (747231) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085698)

Let me just add that light year is a measure of distance not time. You heard it here first, the timestamp of the post is just wrong.

the stargate takes just a few seconds to get ther (2)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085780)

the stargate takes just a few seconds to get there.

Map of the Kepler-11 system (2)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085524)

Map [fireflyshipworks.com]

Re:Map of the Kepler-11 system (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085628)

Not to forget the common means of transport [zoneland.ru] .

CC.

Re:Map of the Kepler-11 system (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086270)

+1 Awesome

Are they for sale? (1)

MrJemson (1987308) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085544)

Pirate Bay might like to buy one! Who needs a micronation when you have your own planet!

Re:Are they for sale? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085680)

Yeah but you would have a bit of a problem getting TCP packets every 2000 years or so.

Re:Are they for sale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35085682)

sure, I'll sell you one for 100k. Or the full lot for about tree fiddy.

I also have some sweet beach front property for you to look at.

when (1)

hishammuteb (1780710) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085634)

when we can live in this planets ?

Re:when (1)

Silpher (1379267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085730)

Only decendants of the church of scientology can live in planets.. until they get shit out by vulcanos

We absolutely HAVE NOT found 5 Earth-size planets (2, Informative)

AbsoluteXyro (1048620) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085700)

Stupid media hype. In that very same article it is stated that it would take 3 years -at minimum- to verify the existence of an Earth-size exoplanet. So clearly there aren't five of them on the books yet. Kepler went up in March 2009.

Re:We absolutely HAVE NOT found 5 Earth-size plane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35085776)

I found two Earth-size planets. I call one Venus, and the other one Earth.

Re:We absolutely HAVE NOT found 5 Earth-size plane (2)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085884)

Of the 54 new planet candidates found in the habitable zone, five are near Earth- sized. The remaining 49 habitable zone candidates range from super-Earth size -- up to twice the size of Earth -- to larger than Jupiter, NASA stated.

They've found 5 earth sized planet candidates in what they believe to be the habitable zone. That's pretty exciting to me whether they're confirmed or not.

Re:We absolutely HAVE NOT found 5 Earth-size plane (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35086378)

What it takes three years to find is a planet orbiting a star once a year, ie: in an earth-like orbit. They've found a bunch of earth-sized planets orbiting much closer than that.

The Mormons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35085728)

...don't seem so crazy now do they?

Re:The Mormons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35086324)

yes, they still do.

Selection effects (5, Informative)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085768)

Surveys such as this tend to find lots of large planets close to their stars. It is worth pointing out that this is at least partly because such planets are easier to detect, and does not necessarily mean they are a high proportion of planets in the galaxy.

Kepler detects changes in stellar brightness due to transiting planets. The closer a planet is to its star, the less precise the alignment has to be for us to observe a transit. Also, the closer it is, the faster it orbits, and the more likely we observe a transit in the limited time we're observing that star. This second factor will become less restrictive as the Kepler mission runs for a longer time. (I presume they need at least two, possibly more, transits before they claim a detection.) Large planets will also give a larger, easier to detect change in brightness.

The other major way of detecting planets is spectroscopically: the planet wobbles the star slightly, and we observe the Doppler shift. This favours massive planets (they wobble the star more) and close planets (they wobble the star faster.)

There have I think also been a few cases where clever interferometry has allowed direct imaging of extrasolar planets. I don't know what the selection effects on this are - further away means easier to separate from the star (good) but less bright (bad.)

Re:Selection effects (2)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086668)

They're requiring three transits to flag a potential planet for verification with other telescopes. And my understanding is that the resolution is sufficient to detect earth-sized habitable zone planets without considerable trouble, once it's been up there for the three years required to find 3 earth-like transits, so size isn't nearly the selection effect that distance (from their star) is.

Get a little over excited? (1)

englishknnigits (1568303) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085772)

Ummm, I'm pretty sure we haven't found a single planet that we know is habitable outside of our own. That certainly doesn't mean they aren't out there...but we are hardly at the point to justify hyperbole like "continues to find amazing proof that there are tons of habitable planets in space". There is no proof of a single other planet, let alone "tons". It sounds like things look promising for a few planets but it's far from proof of another habitable planet.

Dances with Smurfs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35085824)

Que Avatar jokes...

There are billions and billions (1)

ChronoFish (948067) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085842)

There are billions and billions of habitable planets in an infinite universe.

(exaggerated paraphrase of mis-attributed quote of the One (Carl Sagan) MHRIP

-CF

Re:There are billions and billions (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086052)

In an infinite universe, there are infinite habitable planets. Assuming .00000001 % of planets are habitable, you multiply that number by infinity, and guess what, you end up with infinity. Any non-zero number times infinity, is also infinity.

Re:There are billions and billions (1)

babtras (629678) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086086)

*shakes fist*

Re:There are billions and billions (1)

WrongMonkey (1027334) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086128)

The logic is flawed. We know that there is one real number equal to the square root of two. Since the real numbers are infinite and the probably of a real number being equal to the square root of two is non-zero, there must be infinite numbers equal to the square root of two! Of course that's not the way it works. It could very well be that the conditions for life are so specific that even with an infinite set of possibilities, there is still only one planet that exactly meets those conditions. Just like there is only one number out of the infinite that meets the condition of being equal to the square root of two.

Also the assumption that the universe is infinite,at least in terms of mass, is wrong.

Re:There are billions and billions (2)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086242)

Not necessarily true. The universe could indeed have infinite space, or it could expand infinitely, but that wouldn't necessarily mean that it also contains infinite matter or infinite stars and planets. Perhaps there was a big bang, inflation took off, and there were 100 trillion galaxies that formed within the first 10 billion years. The universe might expand infinitely then, though the quantity of matter (and therefore the number of galaxies, stars, and habitable planets) could still be quite finite, unless there is something really crazy going on and matter is popping into existence. Even if the universe is infinite, you can't just assume that it is the same throughout unless you also know that it has always been infinite and is uniformly smooth. Infinite habitable planets would mean infinite mass, and infinite mass would force the universe to contract to an infinitely small point (zero dimensional?), wouldn't it? And we observe it to be expanding, probably at an increasing rate (and faster than the speed of light), right? Be careful multiplying by infinity, or attempts at mathematical proofs can get really screwy. Infinity is not a perfect substitute for even REALLY big numbers. Just a few thoughts that might make sense. Maybe not. After all, I'm only an amateur cosmologist.

Re:There are billions and billions (1)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086334)

In an infinite universe, there are infinite habitable planets

Really? Even in an empty-but-infinite universe? How about an infinite universe that only has one habitable planet? Or twelve? Or nothing but blueberry preserves? In an infinite number of infinite universes, all these things must exist! :)

Re:There are billions and billions (1)

babtras (629678) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086060)

"billions and billions" is finite. If the universe is infinite, there are either no habitable planets or an infinite number of them.

Re:There are billions and billions (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086070)

And apparently our universe is 500 times infinity.

Proof (1)

NetNinja (469346) | more than 3 years ago | (#35085914)

Why is is so hard to believe that there are potentially habitable planets? I guess we would be the only inteligent life in a universe of billions of stars and planets?

I shudder to think of the consequence of finding inteligent life out there. We barely understand or get along with each other. Who knows maybe finding inteligent life accelerates our understanding of ourselves.

I liken it to learning another language only then you understand proper sentence structure and the use of nouns, pronouns and verbs. :)

Class M (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35086016)

Why don't we just call them "Class M". We all know what that means.

Kepler Confirms there are Lots of Planets (2)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086020)

That should be more like the title of the news story. We already had found hundreds of planet candidates by other means. Now with this report we have added a bunch more using the transit method. Kepler is only scanning one patch of the sky, and only catches planets whose orbits are edge on, so they pass in front of their star (transit). So it's a pretty small sample percentage wise. Extrapolating the Kepler results to the whole sky, and all orbit angles, means there's a LOT of planets out there, millions of them. That's probably the most important news - that there are lots of planets out there. The details of orbits, masses, temperature, etc will come eventually with better instruments, but from sheer random statistics, some of them will end up with the right mass, and distance from their star to be "possibly Earthlike".

Note that by the time we could visit such planets, we won't need them. We will have learned to live on the Moon, Mars, the Asteroids, and other non-Earthlike places long before we attempt an interstellar mission. All we really need is raw materials and sunlight. Habitable planets just make for cool news stories.

Re:Kepler Confirms there are Lots of Planets (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086082)

by the time we could visit such planets, we will have learned we can't live on Earth...

NASA has produced the greatest... (2)

vettemph (540399) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086196)

....artists rendition of a inhabitable planet ever!

and if that's not ridiculous enough, you can click on 'Enlarge' for a better look at it.

Heaven (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35086250)

Have they found heaven yet? Maybe they looking in the wrong place. Heaven maybe be temperature controlled, but the global warming really hot place probably should be avoid. But they're scientist, what the hell right?

And so close.. (2)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086384)

From wiki.. Kepler-11 is a star in the Kepler spacecraft field of observations and is roughly 2000 light years away from our Solar System.

So only a few thousand generations and we are so there...

Outside our solar system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35086458)

Pretty sure that's the largest system of transiting planets _including_ our solar system, right? Since we only have 3 (Mercury, Venus, and Earth -- one could dubiously call Luna #4, under the let's-call-it-a-double-planet approach), that disclaimer is unnecessary. Now when we get a human out past Mars...

150,000 Samples (2)

hackus (159037) | more than 3 years ago | (#35086736)

And only 1200 so far may look reasonable.

Still a good ratio.

But, pay attention to the report, in that a large number, almost half have GAS giants in the zone...more than likely with Earth sized moons or smaller.

You could literally have Multiple Earths around a single body...I wonder how that affects the odds of life in general?

Compare that to the situation we are in, where a rocky planet has its own orbit. That so far is a very small percentage.

We could very well have a very unique situation.

I find it odd that Pandora as a movie of science fiction may in fact be much more common than a rocky planet in its own orbit about the sun that has life.

Very exciting though that we are starting to get ratios of stars to planets with habitable zones and even what sort they are.

In another 20 years we should have a trend line to plot!!!

All within my lifetime, which is very exciting!!!
(Well...God willing!!)

-Hack

Please rename the star system... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35086976)

THIS IS CETI ALPHA FIVE!

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