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175 comments

Time for another IAU meeting (4, Funny)

edalytical (671270) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332018)

Quick, we need to redefine the meaning of "planet" yet again.

Re:Time for another IAU meeting (5, Interesting)

painandgreed (692585) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332104)

Quick, we need to redefine the meaning of "planet" yet again.

Possibly. As neither has "cleared its neighbourhood" [wikipedia.org] of other masses in their neighborhood, they might be back to being called planetoids like Pluto. Both are to be considered "dwarf planets" until they collide and one becomes obviously dominant. There's already bits that cover things like this, but people are already arguing about the exampled in our own solar system. I be something like this would cause even more hub bub and another conference to further define the meaning of planet yet again.

Re:Time for another IAU meeting (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332184)

There can only be one!

Re:Time for another IAU meeting (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332284)

Moreover, at least outside exceptionally unlikely external forces, such a system is not stable, so the arrangement is temporary.

Re:Time for another IAU meeting (4, Interesting)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332360)

Is an estimated minimum of 2 million more years not stable enough for you? With the two planets orbiting their star about every 10 earth days, that's over 70 million orbits, at minimum. What makes this an interesting find it that it IS unlikely, and it does NOT require external forces. Hence there's an article about it. :)

As referenced by TFA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagrange_point [wikipedia.org]

Unless you're claiming that nothing is stable because y'know, entropy, man!

Re:Time for another IAU meeting (4, Funny)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332728)

Nothing is stable. All orbits change chaotically in the long term.
Corollary: There are no planets.

Re:Time for another IAU meeting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35334588)

Nothing is stable. All orbits change chaotically in the long term.
Corollary: There are no planets.

Omg ponies have entropy?

lulz

-@|

Re:Time for another IAU meeting (2)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333700)

Even with the center of mass of each planet exactly in the L point of the other, then if the planet has a radius of 100km, parts of it will be 100kms away from the lagrange point --> inestability, whatever long it takes to become catastrophic.

Re:Time for another IAU meeting (2)

Brucelet (1857158) | more than 3 years ago | (#35334122)

The L4 and L5 points are actually stable equilibria, meaning that a body a very short distance away from the L-point will circle it. I would guess instability is more likely to come from effects like orbits being not perfectly planar and circular, and perturbations from other bodies in the system, rather than from being not quite on the L-point.

Re:Time for another IAU meeting (2, Interesting)

Jiro (131519) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332290)

That's not what "clearing the neighborhood" is defined as. "Clearing the neighborhood" contains an exemption for other objects under the first object's gravitational influence.

If there are two objects in one orbit *and* the objects stay that way because of some complicated gravitational interaction, they are exempt from "clearing the neighborhood" and can still count as planets. In order to not count as planets you'd have to have two objects in the same orbit that just stay there because they happen to be in the same orbit, without any gravitational forces keeping it that way.

It's highly likely that these two objects are staying in that orbit because of gravitational interactions, and therefore they are probably planets.

Or they would be, except that the definition of "planet" used to disqualify Pluto specifically says it only applies to our own solar system. It couldn't be applied to other systems anyway, since we can't see enough smaller objects in other solar systems to know whether the neighborhood has been cleared or not. Currently, the definition used outside the solar system has problems at its lower size limits.

Re:Time for another IAU meeting (4, Informative)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332460)

The definition that makes Pluto a dwarf planet specifically apples only to our solar system, and the part that calls for clearing the orbit was inserted in case a Kuiper belt object actually bigger than Mercury was found later, so the IAU would not have to debate the subject again, not as a straight-forward rule based on any physical fact. Incidentally, the belt is named after Kuiper because he was a. the third major working astronomer to propose such as zone, and b. the first to be fundamentally wrong about its nature, as he claimed such a belt could not still exist.
      All the debate about how to define a an extra-solar planet will be driven by the very people who have totally screwed up any rational, scientific definitions when it comes to our own solar system. Expect a rule about how planets in the 'northern' part of the galaxy must have an eccentricity of less than 5.2%, and planets in the direction of Virgo are allowed 7.1%, but only if they move in square orbits on alternate St. Swithen'sdays.

Dwarf planet? (2)

niew (133188) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333908)

Both are to be considered "dwarf planets"

We prefer the term "little planets"... (you insensitive clod!)

Re:Time for another IAU meeting (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332170)

Quick, we need to redefine the meaning of "planet" yet again.

Yeah... because it's been changed so many times, right? And for no good reason to boot, right?

Truth is, the term "planet" has only really been defined once, a few years ago. before that, we had an intuitive idea of what a "planet" was; we included Pluto, as it appeared to be a comparatively unique object, but then we found that Pluto isn't unique and that there is no reason to believe that we wouldn't have millions (at least!) of planets, since there'll be that many objects that all share Pluto's characteristics and that'll have the same right to be called "planet".

Not a good solution, obviously, so we looked for something different and came up with a better, precise definition. And yes, that meant that Pluto lost its "planet" status... but that's happened before; Ceres was considered a planet when it was first found. Until, that is, people noticed that it was just one of a ton of objects that would then also have to be called "planets" if Ceres was one. Sound familiar? It's basically exactly Pluto's situation.

Now maybe you don't see keeping the number of planets down as a worthwhile goal, but personally, I think that if you're thinking that the four major rocky planets in the inner solar system and the four gas giants in the outer solar system do not stand out from millions of asteroids and Kuiper belt objects, then you're deluded. They do.

Doesn't mean the remaining objects aren't interesting, mind you, but that's just you attaching too much significance to the label "planet" in the first place.

Re:Time for another IAU meeting (-1, Redundant)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332372)

Furthermore, in favor of the "drop it like it's Pluto" argument, Pluto and Charon may very well shove themselves up in Neptune, but never on Urectum. I mean Uranus.

Re:Time for another IAU meeting (2)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332780)

Well, it pointless to start or maintain an argument because of this discover. what they are observing is the Death star beta production facility. It just took a long time for the light to eventually reach us. But then again, it all happened A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Re:Time for another IAU meeting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332456)

what do you mean?

two planets, one cup... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332026)

1. read slashdot
2. attempt humor
3. ...
4. PROFIT!!!

As well as (0)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332028)

If the discovery is confirmed, it would bolster a theory that Earth once shared its orbit with a Mars-sized body ....'

To say nothing of confirming John Norman and the Tarnsman of Gor!

And bolster my theory (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332052)

That there's a duplicate Earth on the exact opposite side of the Sun!

First rule in government spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price?

Re:And bolster my theory (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332094)

That there's a duplicate Earth on the exact opposite side of the Sun!

OK, just for the fun of it: what would be the most efficient method to check this hypothesis?

Re:And bolster my theory (4, Funny)

Issildur03 (1173487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332110)

Check Wikipedia.

Re:And bolster my theory (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332834)

shouldnt that have been wikileaks ?

Re:And bolster my theory (4, Informative)

dweezil-n0xad (743070) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332122)

That there's a duplicate Earth on the exact opposite side of the Sun!

OK, just for the fun of it: what would be the most efficient method to check this hypothesis?

That would be STEREO [nasa.gov].

Re:And bolster my theory (1)

Brucelet (1857158) | more than 3 years ago | (#35334338)

Really, any interplanetary spacecraft is good enough. There are very few trajectories that leave the Earth that don't also allow you to see anything else potentially in the same orbit as you move far enough away.

Gravity of an Earth-size body at L3 (5, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332132)

That there's a duplicate Earth on the exact opposite side of the Sun!

OK, just for the fun of it: what would be the most efficient method to check this hypothesis?

By checking how its gravity would effect other planets in the same star system. For background: Counter-Earth on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], Lagrangian point L3 on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], and Counter-Earth on TV Tropes [tvtropes.org]. Executive summary: We don't have one, and we know this because if we did, we'd be able to detect its pull. Furthermore, such an orbit would be unstable.

Re:Gravity of an Earth-size body at L3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332864)

a planet's gravity effects other planets in the same star system
we have not seen any new planets in this system
maybe we have to wait a few bazillion years
therefore, there might not be any planets in this system
Q.E.D.

Would a counter-earth be directly observable? (1)

Stunning Tard (653417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333172)

Our orbit isn't perfect. So maybe the counter earth would be visible in the sky just beside the sun. But would go behind it and reappear out the other side each time one of the planets passed perihelion. Is our orbit eccentric enough for this?

Re:Would a counter-earth be directly observable? (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 3 years ago | (#35334252)

Especially considering the number of satellites accumulating at L4 and L5, one or more would have a line of sight to both Earth and Earth's L3. If we ever get around to doing some Manned Mars missions, we'll probably have some commo birds sitting in L4 and L5 as well.

Re:And bolster my theory (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332270)

That there's a duplicate Earth on the exact opposite side of the Sun!

OK, just for the fun of it: what would be the most efficient method to check this hypothesis?

Um, ask someone on /. ? (but not the guy who keeps posting 'First Planet!')

Re:And bolster my theory (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332618)

.htraE ylno eht si sihT .tuoba gniklat ruoy tahw wonk t'nod I

Re:And bolster my theory (4, Funny)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333054)

.htraE ylno eht si sihT .tuoba gniklat er`uoy tahw wonk t'nod I .uoy rof taht dexiF

Re:And bolster my theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333370)

!pu tnerap doM

Re:And bolster my theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333480)

!nwod gniddom si pu gniddom ,htraE ruo nO

Re:And bolster my theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35334526)

able was I ere I saw elba

pwned

Re:And bolster my theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333232)

So on counter-Earth you use 62 TOR?

Verify? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332622)

Simple! There are many satellites that have left the orbit of earth and now in a solar orbit. Example: the Mars probes (although these might more accurately be Martian orbits). These satellites could easily view the location and send back reports.

Re:And bolster my theory (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35334044)

Simple: Launch a nuclear missile in the same orbit as Earth but in the opposite direction. Wait six months.

Re:And bolster my theory (2)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332130)

That would be in the L3 point, and that one is highly unstable, and a planet in L3 would be knocked out of it whenever Jupiter or Mars is close by.

L4 and L5 is much more likely, but not for a duplicate Earth, as we would be able to see it from here.

Re:And bolster my theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332526)

Well, if I was administering a project to maneuver another planet into the "green" zone, I'd place it opposite our own. How cool would it be to have found a civilization that was actually capable of doing that? I wonder how many Earth-mass bodies you could place without significantly affecting our own planet, and if there is there enough of the correct material in our star system to manufacture several more "Earths"?

Re:And bolster my theory (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333740)

It would be even cooler to find their still-functioning planet moving drives because if the things weren't still working the planet would have drifted out of the unstable L3 point already.

Re:And bolster my theory (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332932)

That there's a duplicate Earth on the exact opposite side of the Sun!

First rule in government spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price?

All ready been proven (by movies at least) Doppelgänger [wikipedia.org]

You can't explain that! (4, Funny)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332082)

This is more liberal lies. Bill O'Reilly told me that you can't explain that [geekosystem.com]!

Re:You can't explain that! (1)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332806)

At least he might believe in the hot place to which his credibility hand-basket may be headed... B^>

Rgds

Damon

Oblig. Star Wars reference (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332090)

I always assumed that Dantooine and Tatooine were twin planets like this. Or did that mean something else?

Re:Oblig. Star Wars reference (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333760)

I don't think they're even supposed to be in the same solar system.

The classic twin planet arrangement is two planets orbiting each other though. Like the Earth and moon.

Re:Oblig. Star Wars reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35334486)

What?
Firstly, the moon is not a planet. It's a MOON.
Secondly, the Earth does not orbit the moon. The Earth and the moon does not orbit each other.

Re:Oblig. Star Wars reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333854)

I always thought she said Tatooine. I googled Dantooine and it was that. Wow.

right.... (2)

TafBang (1971954) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332172)

how is this amazing. there are an infinite amount of things in the skies... I wouldn't be surprised to see a new Galaxy that had an outline shaped like a Penis

Re:right.... (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332288)

how is this amazing. there are an infinite amount of things in the skies... I wouldn't be surprised to see a new Galaxy that had an outline shaped like a Penis

I think they've already found one in the Porn Cluster ... I think it's called the Sheen Galaxy.

Re:right.... (1)

Brucelet (1857158) | more than 3 years ago | (#35334236)

Because the universe has a finite age and light has a speed limit, there are a finite (though still very large) number of things we can see in the universe. Further, as far as we can tell everything in the universe obeys the same laws of physics. Thus we don't necessarily expect infinite variation in the cosmos - there should instead be a good deal of uniformity. When something unusual or exceptional occurs, it's interesting because it wasn't necessarily expected that such a thing could exist.

Do we need to check closer to home (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332176)

Is there another Earth on the far side of the Sun orbiting every 365 days?, anyone check?

Re:Do we need to check closer to home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332978)

Other probes would have spotted it

Re:Do we need to check closer to home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332998)

That would be unstable. 30 degrees would be stable but visible

First? (5, Informative)

jc42 (318812) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332178)

It's not clear that this is anything new. A number of astronomers have suggested that we should treat the Earth/Luna and Pluto/Charon pairs as "double planets" sharing an orbit. And there's a pair of Saturn's moons that share an orbit. Of course, whether these are counterexamples depends on the picky, legalistic details of how you define the term "planet", which we've discussed to death here on /. already. Fun as such pseudo-arguments may be, the fact is that they're not terribly significant.

Thus, for the Pluto/Charon pair, reclassifying Pluto as a "dwarf planet" make it especially an edge case, since it still includes the term "planet" in its classification. But they're both large, spherical bodies in a single orbit around the sun, while also orbiting each other.

The Earth/Luna pair is a bit of a mathematical curiosity. One of the arguments supporting calling our moon a "planet" orbiting the sun is that its orbit is everywhere convex with respect to the sun. You'd expect a "moon" to have a much more wiggly orbit, parts of which are curved away from the sun, and this is true of the other objects in the solar system that we call moons. OTOH, the barycenter of the Earth/Luna pair is (slightly) inside the Earth, which can be used with some definitions to say that it's really a satellite of the Earth.

And, of course, Saturn's two moons in a single orbit can be disqualified because they're obviously not "planets". They're not even big enough to be spheroidal, which is required by most definitions of a planet.

But the fact remains that our solar system contains at least three example of paired bodies sharing an orbit about their primary, and periodically exchanging the lead position. The mechanics of such orbits have been long understood, and astrophysicists can tell you when such orbits are stable. So while this may be "news" in the sense that it's about such orbits around another star, it's hardly news in the astrophysics sense.

What'll be interesting news is the discovery of three astronomical bodies in a "Scottish reel" orbit, which was proved possible several years ago, but to my knowledge hasn't actually been observed yet. Possible places to find them are in the asteroid belt, in Jupiter's "Trojan" asteroid clumps, and in the Kuiper Belt.

Re:First? (4, Informative)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332400)

What'll be interesting news is the discovery of three astronomical bodies in a "Scottish reel" orbit, which was proved possible several years ago, but to my knowledge hasn't actually been observed yet. Possible places to find them are in the asteroid belt, in Jupiter's "Trojan" asteroid clumps, and in the Kuiper Belt.

I googled "scottish reel orbit" and of course the first result was your own post. However, I did come across this, for those who are interested: http://faculty.ifmo.ru/butikov/Projects/Collection3.html [faculty.ifmo.ru]

Re:First? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332520)

Yeah someone please link a Wiki article or something for 'scottish reel orbit'. I did the same and got no results except GP's post.

Re:First? (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332452)

I note that your post is the first I find to be on topic (and not +'Funny')

TFA does not really say much. In addition, when I follow suggested links in its hosting webpage, "Read more:", as they put it, I am informed that I have not clearance enough, something that can be altered if I will part with my personal information and/or credit card number.

And all that just to read insufficiently technical articles like this? Are the restricted articles more technical? I am puzzled- Is this a lifestyle tabloid?

Note that these planets do not orbit each other (2)

robbak (775424) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333196)

These planets are at the stable lagrange points, not in orbit with each other.

Which, by the way, is perfectly fine with regards to the IAU's definition. These planets have cleared their orbit nicely, and are gravitationally bound to each other.

Re:Note that these planets do not orbit each other (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333898)

If the star disappeared, those two planets would be flung 60 degrees apart and never meet again, so that's not what I would call "gravitationally bound". For comparison, if the Sun disappeared, the Moon would still orbit the Earth.

Re:First? (0)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333776)

I guess you missed the part where these planets are at each other's Lagrange points hey?

There aren't any planets, or anything close to planets that we know of, sharing an orbit that way in the solar system.

Moon's formation my ass ... (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332196)

something SO unnatural, uniform, coated with finely grained sand in general, being produced out of a random collision (the results of which are statistically unlikely to produce something like that in the first place), without any atmospheric or natural conditions acting on its surface ...

the moon is quite unnatural as it is. there is no object flying in solar system that is even remotely similar, even asteroids. there is no need to try to invent far out theories in order to make its statistical absurdity more absurd.

Re:Moon's formation my ass ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332292)

Consider having a look at Mercury( planet ).

Re:Moon's formation my ass ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332594)

I agree. It's not a moon - it's a DEATH STAR!!!

That "Mars-sized" planet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333184)

...may have very well been Mars itself that collided with Earth and got knocked into it's current orbital path. It didn't share an orbit with Earth, but in a crossing orbit before the collision. Mars once had large oceans, which were knocked away in the collision, and the resulting water froze into space ice and was eventually captured by Earth's gravity and is now in our oceans.

Interesting, your use of the term "crossing".... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333966)

There is another hypothesis about a planet "crossing" the earth's orbit. Earth wasn't in it's current orbit, according to this hypothesis, when the collision occured, and Mars was not involved (the refutation of Mars being involved relies on the apparent lack of tectonic activity on Mars), but water knocked into space is involved.
Zecharia Sitchin again. And by all means, ignore his linguistic conclusions (not supported) and his anthropological musings (off-topic). Just stick to the astronomy and cosmology arguements (jaw-dropping). Oh, and he first wrote his stuff in the mid '70s. Before we'd even been to the outer planets. Before we had any evidence of extra-solar planets, -oids, -ismals, etc.

Re:Moon's formation my ass ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333218)

Unnatural? Must have been made by aliens!

Tide comes in, tide comes out!

How else can you explain it?

Re:Moon's formation my ass ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333862)

'bout time someone noticed and commented on this part of the original post!

"If the discovery is confirmed, it would bolster a theory that Earth once shared its orbit with a Mars-sized body that later crashed into it, resulting in the moon's formation." --Really? what theory? who proposed it? in what year? might this "theory" to which you refer be, in fact, a hypothesis? Was the theory tested at some point? what were the observations gathered?

as to unity100's contention- at least some facts, mixed with opinions, are being displayed to support the supposition that the moon is an unnatural object.
I, for one, concur that the earth's moon does have unnatural characteristics, not properly explained by accepted formation theories. I would direct your attention to the works of Zecharia Sitchin, for an unacceptable hypothesis of lunar formation, with statistical support.

Data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332222)

Is this analysis really just based on 4.5 months of data from May to September 2009? What's taking so long?

Re:Data (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332582)

There is a ridiculously enormous amount of data. Numerous cameras, totaling to almost 100Mpixels 'blinking' every 6 seconds. Assuming a minimum of 4 bits per pixel, that would be at least 720 Gb every 24h, that somehow have to be transmitted to a station on Earth from wherever the hell Kepler is. And nor that traffic includes flight and error control, neither the maintenance and diagnostics on the on-board computer is included in the former calculation. Plus, for some reason, there is not enough bandwidth to accommodate all available throughput.

As for post-retrieval data processing, what does it tell you that mission officials are seeking civilian help in interpreting data?

time, space, circumstance acceleration noted (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332230)

seems to be causing outbreaks (many begging urgent attention) of humanity everywhere. see you there?

Keplerian Occultations (4, Insightful)

kenwd0elq (985465) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332374)

The problem with the planet detection methods used by the Kepler team is that it is all calculated based on occultations; the slight dimming of the star's light as a planet passes between that star and the Kepler satellite. This only works if the planet in question is 1) HUGE or 2) very close to the star or 3) the Earth just HAPPENS to be in the plane of the planet's orbit around the star. That's why we're discovering so many enormous planets with orbital periods in the range of only a few days. But the nice thing about the Kepler data seems to be that it's eliminating many of the "it could NEVER have happened that way!" explanations. With upwards of 500 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy and we've looked only at a few thousand, it looks more and more that ANYTHING is possible when it comes to planetary formation.

Re:Keplerian Occultations (2)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332736)

The distance from the star doesn't matter much for occultation methods. The difference between the Earth orbital radius and the Jupiter orbital radius from tens or hundreds of light years is negligible. The place where the radius does make a difference is in the time to repeat an observation. To get the orbital period of a planet in an Earthlike orbit will take around a year, while a jupiterlike orbit would require 16 years. The "wobble" method that found the first planets is the one that is really sensitive to hot Jupiters.

Also, Kepler was specifically sized (and placed above the atmosphere) to be sensitive enough to detect Earth-sized planets around Sun-like stars.

As you point out, the orbit plane is a problem, but often these things can be de-biased. If you assumed that ecliptic plane distributions were uniform it would be easy to extrapolate Kepler statistics to get a good estimate of the general population. While that uniform distribution is probably not true (I just don't know), a combination of models and distributions of ecliptic plane angles from other detection methods may give enough information to get a good estimate. The point isn't to detect every planet out there, but to get an estimate of the total number and distribution.

Re:Keplerian Occultations (1)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332824)

The distance between the planet and the star matters very much for the occultation method. That's because planets that are far away from their stars don't orbit very often. We are exceptionally unlikely to spot a planet that only orbits once a century with a telescope that has only been looking for a year.

Re:Keplerian Occultations (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332876)

I realize that. In fact my second sentence states as much. I was simply correcting the misconception that the distance matters in the same way the size does for an occultation method.

Re:Keplerian Occultations (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333840)

Kepler was specifically designed to find planets of an interesting size (like Earth, but it can certainly detect larger ones) in interesting orbits (like Earth's, but it can certainly detect ones closer in). We have other methods to identify giant planets further out.

two planets one orbit (4, Funny)

frisket (149522) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332434)

I googled "two planets one orbit" and was shocked by the sick porn it brought up.

Oh, sorry, typed it wrong...

It's not a real planet . . . . until . . . (2, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332528)

Captain Kirk beams down there, takes his shirt off, and gets the chick. Wait, two planets? Wait a second, we'll have to fly in a second, evil, Captain Kirk from a parallel universe. And how about a Spock with a beard? Does Ryanair fly there? Can we get a discount rate for two? Well, knowing them, they'll charge an extra exorbitant fee for Spock's beard. And the plane won't even land in the parallel universe, but in another universe, "Really close by!"

"typical" solar system may be defined by Kepler (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333190)

Kepler has identified 1200 planet candidates in its first four months of data operations, 19 which had been confirmed as of last week. Graphing the planets by various attributes starts to give a respectable idea of size, year, star-type, density and perhaps other attributes in solar systems. Kepler could find ten times as many planets as these in its 3.5 year nominal, 10-year extended, mission.

And I Hear the RIAA (1)

avgjoe62 (558860) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333234)

...is filing a few billion John Doe lawsuits against "Any and all current or potential occupants of said potentially planetary bodies..." for sharing an orbit.

Sharing is bad

really, who cares ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35334208)

i just found a nickel. i can touch, spend, and more importantly COVER UP YOUR PLANET with it. ha.

Well according to Ronald Moore (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35334418)

There were 12 planets all sharing orbits, orbiting in some stars habitable zone.

But then again there were angels with awesome tits running around too.

Thunderdome.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35334524)

Two planets enter, one planet leaves!

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