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New Exoplanet Is Best Yet Candidate For Supporting Life

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the welcome-to-the-neighborhood dept.

Space 288

First time accepted submitter uigrad_2000 writes "With all the new exoplanets discovered recently with Kepler, it seemed a sure thing that the first exoplanet in the habitable zone of a star would be found soon. The irony is that Kepler was not involved. GJ 667Cc is at least 4.5 times as massive as Earth, and lies in the habitable region of its host star, reports Scientific American. It was discovered by comparing public data from the ESO to recent observations from Hawaii and Chile. As opposed to the stars Kepler is watching, this is only 22 light-years away, making it even more interesting."

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Is you is, or is you ain't, a black people? (-1)

blackpeoplemeet (2563129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912067)

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Re:Is you is, or is you ain't, a black people? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912257)

Racist pig. Why do blacks think it is OK to be racist ? Then again I would never fuck a niger who the fuck wan't AIDS?

Re:Is you is, or is you ain't, a black people? (-1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | more than 2 years ago | (#38913033)

First off, you show yourself to be a race-baiting foolish coward, anonymous or not. That post is spam, and secondly, your lack of spelling skills tells me you don't have enough world experience yet. Come back after you've learned how and why we are all one and the same people. Don't be a hater. It really does lead to the dark side. Go back and watch Star Wars in the order in which they are meant to be seen. It might get you some much needed wisdom. When you point our finger at someone else, there are always three more pointing right back at you. Try it! GOD bless.

Re:Is you is, or is you ain't, a black people? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912451)

Not sure that many blacks hang out here.

22 light years (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912077)

"this is only 22 light years away, making it even more interesting."

It's like a price on an estate: as remarkable as this is, it's only 55.3 million! Still unreachable :P

Re:22 light years (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912119)

Closer planets are much easier to observe than farther ones. We may not be able to go there in the foreseeable future, but being close means we can study it.

Re:22 light years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912129)

Visiting this planet is perfectly feasible if the human race wants it.

Re:22 light years (4, Insightful)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912141)

Visiting this planet is perfectly feasible if the human race wants it.

I wouldn't say "perfectly" feasible. Visiting the moon is perfectly feasible. Visiting Mars is probably perfectly feasible. But 22LY is a >44Y round trip. I think instead of "perfectly feasible" I would say "probably possible".

Re:22 light years (4, Insightful)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912165)

A 44 year round trip if you travel at the speed of light from start to finish.

That's a pretty big if.

Re:22 light years (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912229)

Not to mention that we won't be traveling at light speed to get around the universe. When it does happen, it'll be fold space or some other manipulation of spacetime.

Re:22 light years (3, Insightful)

Endovior (2450520) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912259)

That's what the greater than sign was for. >44 years, because it cannot possibly be less, given our current understanding of the laws of physics. Naturally, just because there's no way for it to be less in no way means that it can't be more. In fact, it almost certainly will be.

Re:22 light years (5, Interesting)

Zakabog (603757) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912405)

Well 44 years for those of us observing from Earth. Much less time for those of us making the journey (assuming they're traveling at the speed of light or close to it.) Still that is a huge if. Though radio contact with an intelligent and sufficiently technicially advanced species that close would be very possible.

Re:22 light years (1)

priceslasher (2102064) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912785)

Since there is little friction in space what is there from stopping us from reaching an appreciable fraction of the speed of light? I was reading that we might attain lightspeed in about 1 year [straightdope.com] at 1G acceleration rate which only adds a couple of years to the trip..

I would first launch a volley of asteroids towards the planet to clear a path, then the equipment, and then follow in their wake.

Re:22 light years (3, Insightful)

Arrepiadd (688829) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912903)

Gee, what could go wrong with that?

First, the fact that the asteroids would be going at a much slower speed than your ship going at the speed of light. Instead of the asteroids clearing your path, you would eventually hit the asteroids.

Then, let's forget this tiny detail of E=mc^2 and how that influences the mass of a speeding object. Sure it's a negligible factor at our typical speeds but apply the Lorentz Factor [wikipedia.org] to a ship speeding close to the speed of light (let's say 90%) and the mass increases substantially (to 2.3 times the rest mass). Increase speed even more and mass keeps going up (to roughly 7 times, at 0.99c). Then, when you think a bit more about it, more than the 10 seconds it took you to read that forum you showed while completely missing the post of the guy that says basically what I just said, you start seeing what the problem is with keeping a constant 1G acceleration. It takes a lot of mass (read "fuel"), just to keep speeding up. Then, if you think a little bit harder, you may start understanding why they call the speed of light a "limit".

Re:22 light years (1)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 2 years ago | (#38913055)

As you approach c, though, length and time dilation work in your favour. 1g (of force, since constant acceleration is not possible for obvious reasons) might produce diminishing returns from the earth's perspective with respect to speed, but from the traveller's perspective the distance from earth to the destination will diminish by an equivalent factor---such is my understanding, anyway.

Re:22 light years (3, Interesting)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912461)

I can't see why a modest improvement in our current technology, say the technology we'll have in 200 years would not allow this trip to be quite feasible at 0.10C, for a roundtrip of around half a millennia. And that's only about twice as long as our current government has lasted, and our culture has been around longer. Our descendants could look forward to the trip report. And assuming biology continues to advance, it might just be our great grandchildren welcoming those who return.

Re:22 light years (1)

englishstudent (1638477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912485)

I don't think they'd bother coming back.

Re:22 light years (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912513)

I don't think they'd bother coming back.

Especially if they're leaving all the MPAA, RIAA and layers parasites on earth.
I don't even want to think what a clusterfuck earth is going to be in 200 years.
Gain you freedom, emigrate to GJ 667Cc.

Re:22 light years (1)

sneakyimp (1161443) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912715)

I would say "absolutely, completely, utterly impossible with current technology." Come on. Just shooting a laser would take 22 years to hit it and if anyone were there they wouldn't even notice because we are just a speck in their sky too. Not to mention that if you ever got there, you're probably looking at 3G gravity at the surface. I'd go from 160 lbs to 480 lbs. How the hell are you supposed to be a conquistador when you weight 3 times as much as you are accustomed to after spending your entire life weightless? Please.

An unmanned, multi-generational mission might be feasible. Maybe.

Re:22 light years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912851)

44 years for the people still on Earth. If we can get even a fraction the speed of light, the relativistic time for the passengers will be much less. (It'll be one way anyways most likely.)

Re:22 light years (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912409)

Alpha Centauri A is only 4.3 lightyears. It probably has habitable zone planets too. And it's nearly a clone of our own sun.

Re:22 light years (2)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912475)

Just rechecked. Our own oort cloud goes almost half the way to Alpha Centari A. If that star has one also, there could be water and fuel available almost the whole way. And the star is getting closer, which is a bonus.

Re:22 light years (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912605)

there could be water and fuel available almost the whole way.

If you stop and start. It takes LOT of energy and time to get up to speed -- or to slow down again -- to travel interstellar if you want to get there in less than a million years.

Re:22 light years (1)

Bill Currie (487) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912907)

there could be water and fuel available almost the whole way.

If you stop and start. It takes LOT of energy and time to get up to speed -- or to slow down again -- to travel interstellar if you want to get there in less than a million years.

While very true, here's something to consider: with iceballs going that far out, that's a lot of expansion room for any humans willing to live on iceballs (and makes it rather difficult to wipe out the species). Sure, getting there by colonial expansion could take millions of years, so what? Other than the fact that's a long time to figure out how to get there faster :)

Re:22 light years (1)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912901)

The problem with Alpha Centauri A is that it's part of a binary star system with Alpha Centauri B. Both of these stars are comparable in size to our sun. I am not certain, but I would assume that having two massive stars in a system would makes the temperatures and orbits of any planetary bodies extremely volatile.

Re:22 light years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912125)

55.3 million what?? miles? not even close...

22 light years is about 220 trillion kilometres away...(somewhat less) and that about 130 trillion miles....pack a lunch....a big one!

Re:22 light years (2)

DarkFencer (260473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912159)

It's like a price on an estate: as remarkable as this is, it's only 55.3 million!

55.3 million what?? miles? not even close...

The GP was comparing the distance to the price of a luxury estate (55.3 million dollars/pounds/euro/etc). They were not saying it was 55.3 million anything in distance.

Re:22 light years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912929)

55.3 million dollars isn't unreachable, though.

If you rob the right banks. :)

need to use the stargate to get there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912131)

wait we are there and this is just cover.

Re:22 light years (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912533)

If you really want to feel bad, go figure out how many days work it is for Warren Buffett to buy that unreachable estate.

The universe mocks us (5, Funny)

istartedi (132515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912093)

The universe mocks us.

Here's silver candy,
It doesn't make you fat.
It'll get you girls and all of that.
It only sells for a modest fee.
A quintillion dollars
Or exceeding C.

Re:The universe mocks us (2)

hantms (2527172) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912333)

Hello, it's 22 light years. It may take up to 22 years to get there, but you don't need to exceed c.

The biggest problem I see is that you fly away from Earth going close to c, you will never communicate with anyone back home.

Or to put that in another way: you will never get any new TV shows. You'd launch mid-season of American Idol and 20 years later you still won't know who won it.

Screw that.

Re:The universe mocks us (2)

istartedi (132515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912417)

You're quite right that you don't need to exceed C. I decided to take the lazy way out [orionsarm.com] to analyze this problem. Please note, that site has a crappy interface. There are probably better relativistic trip calculators out there.

What's interesting is that you can subject both the earth and the ship to a fairly long wait time (we're both in it together) or you can give the ship a reasonably short wait time if you can get to 0.99c. The aforementioned lack of sync with Earth is still a problem of course. Single digit years on the ship, multi-decades go by on Earth. I don't know if that calculator takes into account the fact that you have to accelerate to some fraction of C and then decelerate to orbit. Having the deceleration fail would be a world of suck too, not to mention the kinetic energy of a dust particle at relativistic velocities.

Anyway, it was a bit of doggeral I banged out on a whim. If you can come up with some good rhyme and meter that's also good physics, have at it.

Re:The universe mocks us (2)

sneakyimp (1161443) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912725)

The poetry is great! Your physics sucks. You neglect to address the amount of energy/mass it would take to accelerate someone to 0.99c. Hint: it's a fuckload.

Re:The universe mocks us (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912799)

Awright, if achieving a fraction of c large enough to make the trip non-generational for the astronauts isn't practical then maybe the poem is spot-on after all. Break the light barrier, or forget about it.

Re:The universe mocks us (5, Insightful)

MrZilla (682337) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912493)

May take up to 22 years?

It will guaranteed never take less than 22 years. Never mind that even getting close to c is a wild dream at this time.

But if you did manage to get close to the speed of light, the trip would take ~22 years from an earth point of view, but for the people on the ship/whatever, the trip will be quite short. If you actually hit c (never mind that it is physically impossible), the trip would be instantaneous from the point of view of the travelers.

A more realistic scenario, if we pour a lot of money into propulsion research, might be to fly away at 10% c. That would lead to a trip take takes 220 years in earth-time, or 198 years in ship-time. Not exactly an easy trip to plan.

Re:The universe mocks us (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912623)

It will guaranteed never take less than 22 years.

Why? We already know that space can be bent and distorted, so who says our method of travel will be brute force velocity?

Re:The universe mocks us (5, Funny)

PwnzerDragoon (2014464) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912627)

You'd launch mid-season of American Idol and 20 years later you still won't know who won it.

I already do that. Am I an astronaut?

The Great Almost (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912551)

It's like flying cars: somebody's always building yet another Great Almost that gets on the cover of some publication to tease us, then runs away and hides in Flawland.

What if we go there? (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912097)

What if we go there? 4.5 G?

It woukld take some excersise and quite a few generation in low gravity space before we reach that high gravity Earth2...

Just one of many practical issues.

(No, I don't think we'll ever reach it; 22 light years)

Re:What if we go there? (1)

vencs (1937504) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912195)

(No, I don't think we'll ever reach it; 22 light years)

AstroNewts will take up this mission

Re:What if we go there? (3, Informative)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912215)

What if we go there? 4.5 G?

Probably less. TFA quote:

The discovery of a planet around GJ 667C came as a surprise to the astronomers, because the entire star system has a different chemical makeup than our sun. The system has much lower abundances of heavy elements (elements heavier than hydrogen and helium), such as iron, carbon and silicon.

Good news: the density/mass of the planet may be less, thus a lower gravitation.
The bad news: the lack of carbon (which, BTW, is not that heavy) would make the planet unable to sustain life as we know it.

Other than that, with around 20-something days/year of leave entitlement, living there should be nice, because:

It takes roughly 28 days to make one orbital lap around its parent star

"The planet is around one star in a triple-star system," Vogt explained. "The other stars are pretty far away, but they would look pretty nice in the sky."

Re:What if we go there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912231)

surface gravity based on the same density as Earth is 26.7 m/s^2 instead of 9.8 m/s^2 this will make alot more stick to the planet so the atmosphere is likely to Venus nor Earth.

so never expect to leave

Re:What if we go there? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912289)

surface gravity based on the same density as Earth ...

Goshh... I just quoted TFA saying that the abundance of heavy elements is much lower, therefore one could expect a lower density.

Re:What if we go there? (1)

mr_gorkajuice (1347383) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912923)

So, TFS should read something like:

"Located 22 light years from us, the best known candidate for supporting life is 4.5 times the mass of Earth, although that's probably wrong, and the chemical composition of the system does not support life as we know it."

That about right?

Re:What if we go there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912237)

4.5 times as massive is *not* 4.5gs of weight. Jupiter is 317.8 Earths but is only 2.364gs of weight. I would estimate (because I suck at math) that 4.5 times is going to be about 1.1 to 1.2 gravities. And that might be quite livable (even if it stresses the body greatly.)

Re:What if we go there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912277)

Interesting.

What kind of math is needed?

Re:What if we go there? (3, Informative)

sgunhouse (1050564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912445)

Assuming average density the same as Earth, take a cure root of 4.5 to determine the approximate radius (compared to Earth). Then gravity is M/r^2 which (since we assumed M = r^3) simplifies to r.

Digging out the calculator, 1.651G.

(Jupiter is substantially less dense than Earth, that's why it doesn't work for Jupiter.)

Re:What if we go there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912413)

2.72 g at constant density

Re:What if we go there? (5, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912245)

(No, I don't think we'll ever reach it; 22 light years)

We already HAVE reached it... in a sense. We've been broadcasting radio and television signals for all of recorded history (electronically recorded history, that is). Maybe they are mourning the death of The Skipper from Gilligan's Island (Alan Hale Jr.) who passed away 22 years ago. Maybe they're stunned by the loss of the shuttle Challenger, or dismayed by Chernobyl, or the Exxon Valdez. Maybe they're rocking out to Madonna and Michael "Mr Glove" Jackson. Perhaps they have had a Star Wars marathon, and are hoping beyond hope that George Lucas will make those long anticipated prequel movies. Too bad there's no way we can warn them.

Re:What if we go there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912359)

If they could receive our signals, why aren't we receiving theirs?

Re:What if we go there? (4, Funny)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912545)

Because they aren't stupid enough to broadcast their position to the more dangerous gangs in the galaxy.

Re:What if we go there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912481)

Tell that to the MPAA so we can get there sooner and serve them a subpena for copyright infringement. :P

Re:What if we go there? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912423)

Um, if a planet is 4.5x more massive than Earth, in order to have a surface gravity of 4.5G, it would need to be super-dense.

If we can find them... (2)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912103)

in just the last few years (or so it seams) we can now identify "earth like" planets. A more advance race could probably do it much better. All the sudden the thought of ET's finding us isn't so far fetched.

Re:If we can find them... (5, Insightful)

tiffany352 (2485630) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912157)

We have a 75 light year radius sphere of expanding radio signals. If anyone is out there listening, we are the kid knocking over bookshelves in the library of the universe.

Re:If we can find them... (4, Interesting)

segwonk (1064462) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912685)


Serious question though: What size antenna would some(thing) need to hear our radio signals at a distance of 22ly?

I seem to recall from reading somewhere (Physics of Star Trek?) about this. The gist is that this is a non-trivial problem, requiring an antenna unfathomably wide to catch such a weak signal.

Maybe there's an occasional super neat hack, like galaxy/gravitational lensing. But there's no aiming that.

Anyway, maybe we'll catch someone knowledgable about this... Chime in!

Re:If we can find them... (4, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912865)

According to this [vectorsite.net]:

Project Phoenix, under the direction of Dr. Jill Tarter, who had worked on MOP when she was at NASA, was a continuation of the Targeted Search program, studying 710 Sunlike stars within 150 light-years of the Earth. Phoenix used the 64-meter Parkes radio telescope in Australia, the 43-meter telescope at Green Banks, and the Arecibo dish, searching 70 million channels across a bandwidth of 1,800 MHz. The search was said to be capable of picking up any transmitter about as powerful as an airport radar within 200 light-years. Phoenix was completed in March 2004, with negative results.

It gets better if you assume we have a dedicated facility on both ends, two Arecibo radio telescopes (305m each) should be able to communicate halfway to the center of the galaxy. But if you're taking about a low-power radio broadcast, then that would take a huge, huge antenna. Then again, they've done some crazy things with arrays of antennas, so who knows. Certainly we're not so silent that we can't get noticed.

Re:If we can find them... (2)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 2 years ago | (#38913087)

If I'm not mistaken, airport radars are just about the most powerful transmissions we create, so they'd be the easiest to detect.

And setting up an antenna is the easy part. How are you going to decode the transmissions by an alien civilization?

Re:If we can find them... (1)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912163)

Especially since space is curved in a way scientist could never have imagined, and actually forms a giant lens around the solar system which means all those planets are really just a stones throw away.

Or I'll do even better. Even if light speed is constant what if distance or time isn't? Or perhaps all the time wasted on earth somehow is transferred cross space to the aliens so they can use it as a Time Credit(Think Carbon credits but for time)

And even if it did take them 22milion years to come here, wouldn't it be worth it just to stick a probe up someones ass?

Thanks I feel a lot better now.

Re:If we can find them... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912301)

Given the number of people I saw put firecrackers in frogs, tape on cat's feet, and other shenanigans when I was a kid, the idea that an alien might want to prob an animal is not that far fetched.

Re:If we can find them... (3, Informative)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912169)

ETs "finding" us has never been far-fetched. Assume we're not the first sentient species to evolve, most species evolve technologically in a similar way, we're not by some bad luck in an incredibly underpopulated galaxy, etc. These are all reasonable assumptions.

However, it's the contacting us and/or visiting us that is a lot harder to fetch.

I'm certainly not an expert, but my understanding is that to listen to our own spacecraft at the edge of our solar system (Voyager) requires a giant dish here. Granted, Voyager is a pretty weak transmitter, but it's also a very close one and one we built and understand. A giant transmitter 22LY away...could the signal reach us? Further away? I don't know. So likewise, what about our signals (which are pretty weak at this point, even when we try) to them? My understanding is that it's more about the signal decay over vast distances than about sophistication in listening equipment. Identifying Earth as a high-likelihood life-sustaining planet by some ETs - sure. Listening in on us or contacting us...much tougher.

ETs visiting us requires a jump from physics we speculate about to science fiction. At this point, faster than light travel may, for all we know, be forever impossible.

Re:If we can find them... (3, Insightful)

hantms (2527172) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912303)

At 22 lightyears, you don't NEED to go faster than light to reach it. Just somewhere close-ish to light-speed will do. So turning physicis on its head is not a requirement. What you do need is a really big jump in technology. ;) But that's still a lot more feesible than changing reality as Einstein penned it up.

Before setting off however you would want to make real sure that it's worth it, and the place actually inhabitable. The 4.5 x gravity will likely be the least of your concerns. And it'll take some dedication; you will be spending your life (and your kid's life) in space.

Then you land, you find something that looks half-way intelligent, say 'Take me to your leader" and hope it doesn't eat you on the spot.

So all things considered, I can see why aliens don't bother coming here.

Re:If we can find them... (2)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912479)

It better hope it doesn't eat you on the spot. The odds of our biologies not being cross-poisonous are low.

Re:If we can find them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912797)

Evolution doesn't happen in steps or phases. There's no most evolved species on this planet. We're as evolved as the influenca virus, or algae, or the maple tree.

You assumed that somehow an intelligent species had to form after a few billion years of amino acids evolving. Well, the seeing the evidence on this planet - of millions if not billions of species there is only one capable manipulating radio waves. Applying that chance to the bold assumption that on the newly found planet life has formed and had enough time to evolve, finding a species with similar capabilities of ours is next to impossible.

Re:If we can find them... (2)

pjr.cc (760528) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912381)

...All the sudden the thought of ET's finding us isn't so far fetched.

I personally wouldn't jump to that conclusion. Considering the sheer volume of stars just in our galaxy even 10000 exoplanets would be an astronomically small figure besides those we're yet to discover.

But just discovering an exoplanet doesn't simply mean "finding life". Who knows one of the planets we've already seen might have some form of life on it. ET's (assuming they're anything like us) may "find" our planet but have no idea whats on it.

All of that also assumes that ET's are behaving something like us. What I mean is that we're trying to find a planet capable of harbouring life based on what we know of life (i.e. our eco system) and hence we're throwing out planets that dont fall into what we believe is a "habbitable location" for life. Without any evidence to the contrary, ET's would probably do something similar. The problem with that is that if life involved in completely different ways (completely alien to us) in locations we wouldn't suspect capable of being fertile are they going to miss us like we're likely to miss them? Are they even interested in finding life on other planets throughout the universe?

Then again, lets say ET's in some solar system were plausibly capable of developing in some way that meant planets like mercury or pluto were "habbitable" for them (unlikely by our reckoning) chances are they'd be so different that once they started looking for life on other planets they'd look for completely different things. for eg, we might look for a planet that gives off a spectrum suggesting it has water or co2/o2/n2 composition in its atmosphere where they might look for something completely different.

But assuming they are similar to us and do look for something similar (and chance upon our planet), how are they going to know we're here? The huge amount of radio EM radiation we give off? Well, we've only been doing that for less then 100 years - consider how far that actually reaches (moving at the speed of light) within our own milky way (around 100,000 light years across) - 100 years doesnt go very far really. According to this little calc (http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/980123d.html) that would cover around 15000 stars. 15000 of around 200,000,000,000 stars... Doesn't really cover much.

Im not saying its far fetched as such cause you'll never know what an ET is capable of until you meet one and they explain it to you - but, if they're like us (aside from praying they dont have big guns and are looking for oil) finding "us" has reasonably low odd's.

Re:If we can find them... (3, Funny)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912495)

The good news is that if they are looking for oil, we've almost used all of it up, so conquering our planet won't do them much good. :-)

planet in the Koprulu Sector (1)

simoncpu was here (1601629) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912117)

"It's basically glowing cinders, or a well-lit charcoal," Vogt said. "We know about a lot of these, but they're thousands of degrees and not places where you could live."

Yeah, except for the Zerg. That planet is called Char.

Time for a Probe'in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912147)

So, when do we start building the probe?

not really (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912221)

It takes a certain amount of energy to move a certain amount of mass a certain distance and gravity determines that pretty significantly. I don't think 4.5x Earth's mass would result in gravity levels that are compatible with life just based on how much energy it would have to consume to move. But who knows, maybe they're magical fusion-powered space unicorns.

Re:not really (3, Insightful)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912297)

Life doesn't have to be mobile or sentient.

Your argument doesn't exclude plants, trees, fungus, etc.

Re:not really (1)

sehlat (180760) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912323)

Life doesn't have to be mobile or sentient.

But it should be at least one of the above. I offer most of the current crop of Presidential candidates as exemplars of mobility.

Re:not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912519)

Jupiter is 318 times as massive as earth. However, on the "surface" of Jupiter you'd only weigh 2.3 times heavier. This is because gravity falls off in proportion to the square of your distance from the mass, and the diameter of Jupiter is bigger than Earth's. It's quite possible that gravity levels are very similar to Earth's.

Re:not really (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912573)

As got pointed out in other threads, 4.5x earth mass is only about 60% extra G to deal with. I weigh 60% more than I did as a teenager (sadly) and still manage to get out of bed in the morning (most days ... I'm getting up there in age).

bisexual (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912279)

My neighbor just met a bisexual man on ---datebi*cOMit’s where for men and women looking for bisexual and bi-curious individuals to meet in a friendly and comfortable environment.
It’s a nice place for the people who have the same sexual orientation.

summary fail (-1, Flamebait)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912339)

"With all the new exoplanets discovered recently with Kepler"

Ok I may not be up on my space shit, what is kepler, let me just wander away from this article for a bit ... ok its a telescope, would it kill you to fucking include that one damned word in your summary ... your not the type of author, nor is /. the type of site where we hang on every single article like it was important.

"The irony is that Kepler was not involved"

Why is it ironic that kelper was not involved? its not fucking irronic that a telescope focused in another part of vast space didnt see something out of its sight, its not a god dammed all seeing eye... its a tube dipshit.

Re:summary fail (2)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912507)

It's ironic in that no one knows what that word means, and the folks over at Kepler are driving themselves into a frenzy trying to find an earth analogue. They apparently missed one quite nearby.

Re:summary fail (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912945)

gee didnt see that coming ... say something about our infallible space program on Slashdot and instantly get modded down, your more predictable than the space plane people, IE decades of the same ass bullshit, that never leaves the ground

Volcan? Vulcan? (2)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912565)

A rocky planet 4.5 times the mass of Earth would probably be quite volcanic because it has yet to "cool down" inside, and because more gravitational pressure would be cooking the core hotter.

Like engineering gauntlets thrown down lately. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912567)

You have two weeks.
Get it done.

only 22 (1)

sgt101 (120604) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912587)

Ha ha 22 lightyears, or 208,131,625,000,000 kilometers

Re:only 22 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912821)

Ha ha 22 lightyears, or 208,131,625,000,000 kilometers

How many Libraries of Congress is that?

Lame (2)

Jarnin (925269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912791)

It orbits the star in 28 days. That means it's probably tidally locked. One side of the planet would be boiling, the other side would be freezing. The only habitable area on the planet would be yet another habitable zone near the planets terminator.
Weather on this planet would be pretty crazy, if it has an atmosphere at all, and life? I doubt it. Any life on this planet would have no day/night cycle, which seems kind of important for life as we know it.

And that's why I'm really getting tired of all these sensationalist "We found another Earth-like planet" headlines. Mr. Guillem Anglada-Escude of the Carnegie Institution for Science is being very disingenuous claiming that this is the "Holy Grail of exoplanet research". It could be, but without knowing more about it it's just as likely that it's as dead as Mercury or the Moon. Except bigger.

Even more interesting? (0)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912921)

Why should it be "even more interesting"?
Is there any plan to physically reach that planet?
It'd take 22 years at the speed of light to reach it, provided that you can accelerate and decelerate istantaneously to c [wikipedia.org].
Ah! You watch too many sci fi movies. And the bad ones!

We should send a probe. (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912951)

Even if the probe takes 200 years to return, it will be a mjor acomplishment for the human race, and it would provide extremely important scientific data.

Now that I mention it, how come there are no plans to send probes to nearby solar systems? for example, Alpha Centauri is just 4 light years away. If we send a probe now, and the probe could get to up 10% of light speed, in 40 years it will reach that solar system and in 80 years it will be back on Earth.

Better targets for SETI (1)

abelb (1365345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912959)

For the last couple of decades SETI has been searching the sky methodically looking for any interesting signals around the 1.420 gigahertz range which is the "precession frequency of neutral hydrogen" [setileague.org]. SETI will now be able to point their radio telescopes at places we already know are interesting and check them on a much wider range of frequencies. I may be hopeful but I can't help feeling it's an exciting time to be alive.

Science UR failing it (2)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#38913073)

"Statistics tell us we shouldn't have found something this quickly this soon unless there's a lot of them out there," [Steven Vogt, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz] said. "This tells us there must be an awful lot of these planets out there."

I don't know what's worse, his grasp of statistics, or... no, wait, that's about as bad as it gets.

Please tell me that Vogt is some kind of PR Scientician, not an actual, real, bona fide astronomer.

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