Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Kepler: Many Red Dwarfs Have Earth-SIzed Planets Too

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the prepare-for-invasion dept.

Space 132

astroengine writes "Extrapolating from findings by NASA's planet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope, scientists on Wednesday said roughly six percent of so-called red dwarf stars have Earth-sized planets properly positioned around their parent stars so that liquid water could exist on their surfaces. The team looked at 95 candidate planets circling red dwarf stars observed by Kepler and found that at least 60 percent have planets smaller than Neptune. Most were not the right size or temperature to be Earth-like, but three were found to be both warm and approximately Earth-sized. Statistically that would mean six percent of all red dwarf stars should have a Earth-sized planet. Since 75 percent of the closest stars are red dwarfs, the nearest Earth-like world may be just 13 light-years away."

cancel ×

132 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

14 LY from earth? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42810491)

Not to nerd out but wouldn't that make it Vulcan?

Now he has a planet, too? (4, Funny)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year and a half ago | (#42810573)

Many Red Dwarfs Have Earth-SIzed Planets Too

Are we talking about Korea's leader again?

Re:Now he has a planet, too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42815115)

He was heard asking his science minister, "Ok, travering at the speed of right for thirteen years would take us how rong.. how rong??

Re:Now he has a planet, too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42816919)

Racism ho! (Korea & China have both L's and R's)

Re:Now he has a planet, too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42817627)

That may be so, but I've heard tons of Koreans screw up their L's and R's in spoken English. (Chinese, not so much.) And just like the OP's example, it tends to consistently go L -> R, rather than the Japanese where it seems almost random.

I don't really understand why it's considered racist to point out the ways in which Asians mangle English. I'm sure they don't hesitate to make fun of Americans for mangling Korean et al. Hell, Asians are some of the most racist people in the world; plenty of Japanese and Korean people think their nationality is the best, and everyone else is subhuman. (And once again, the Chinese compare favorably here.)

Re:14 LY from earth? (3, Informative)

luxifr (1194789) | about a year and a half ago | (#42810735)

Vulcan is supposed to be in the 40-Eridani-System, which is about 16LY away from us and it's a trinary system. But scientists think that it may host a habitable planet [usatoday.com] :)

So not all is lost ^^

Re:14 LY from earth? (1)

drankr (2796221) | about a year and a half ago | (#42811321)

It must've been fun writing the script for that series. "40-Eridani-System" XD Pretty much sky was the limit for throwing random shit in.
Anyway Vulcans are weird. I vote that first contact should be made with the other ones.. Romulans.
On topic, since noticing the other night for the first time that Betelgeuse actually looks red in the sky, and reading up on it, I've decided I'm interested in red super giants. This story about dwarfs currently has no appeal for me.

Re:14 LY from earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42813093)

dwarfs currently has no appeal for me.

You just haven't met the right one yet...

Re:14 LY from earth? (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817837)

I heard from one lecturer that Bet-al-Geuse was actually an Arabic term for "Armpit".
Which is appropriate, given its position in the constellation of that fighting Irishman, O'Ryan.

Re:14 LY from earth? (3, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#42810937)

Vulcan circles a red dwarf? Wikipedia says nothing about the planet or its star, just about the Vulcans themselves. I was thinking Krypton, even though I haven't read a Superman comic since I was 7 or 8; it orbits a red star.

I'm always amused by "only n light years away" in every story about a newly-found planet. Adams was right. "Space is big. I mean really big. You think it's a long way to the chemist..." the Voyagers have been traveling for 40 years and still haven't gotten past the heliopause. Even Adams was understating the vast distances between stars, try as he might to impress how big space is. Getting to Vulcan/Krypton is indeed infinitely improbable, at least for the next few hundred years and maybe never.

Depressing, isn't it?

Re:14 LY from earth? (2)

Lithdren (605362) | about a year and a half ago | (#42811285)

To be fair, there was a time where travel to China from the UK was considered impossibly far, taking months of time assuming you didn't get killed along the way.

Then there was the giant, impassible ocean that went so far over the horizion we were pretty sure it was the edge of the world.

Humans have this funny way of looking at something, going "Oh geez, yeah forget that!" and end up passing it off as common place some years later. I suspect humans will someday explore the stars, if we dont kill ourselves off first. The only thing that can stand in our way is ourselves.

Re:14 LY from earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42811381)

The only thing that can stand in our way is ourselves.

Well, that nasty speed of light thing gets in the way. This time the physicists are really sure that this one is unbreakable, even more sure than their predecessors were about that sound barrier problem.

Re:14 LY from earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42811613)

Thats because the answer to traveling that distance will have nothing to do with speed and be some completely new method that we never thought of using. wormholes, teleportation, something

Perhaps we will seed a location with a quantum speck beamed from a radio wave then teleport to the speck, so our travel time is nil and we wont have any issues waiting for specks to travel anywhere at the speed of light.

Re:14 LY from earth? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#42811741)

Physicists are pretty sure they know of several ways around that particular problem. They're just not sure whether any of them will ever be practical.

Re:14 LY from earth? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815467)

Stephen Hawking says time travel is possible. [dailymail.co.uk] Maybe some day, but I doubt even your great great great grandchildren will see FTL or time travel.

Re:14 LY from earth? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#42816977)

Could be. However, the GPs assertion that "this time the physicists are really sure that this one is unbreakable" referring to the speed of light is entirely false.

Re:14 LY from earth? (1)

the gnat (153162) | about a year and a half ago | (#42812995)

To be fair, there was a time where travel to China from the UK was considered impossibly far, taking months of time assuming you didn't get killed along the way.

Not literally impossible, just impractical - we had the technology required to make the trip for millennia before it became commonplace, always within the lifespan of a human being, and almost certainly within the lifetime of the civilization which bankrolled such an expedition. (Even the Roman Empire had some limited contact with China, if not formal relations, and Alexander the Great basically made it to the borders of the modern PRC.) With current technology, traveling to another solar system would take longer than most extant religions (and all extant nations) have existed.

Re:14 LY from earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42813207)

but the laws of physics where working against you on the way to china

Re:14 LY from earth? (2)

BeanThere (28381) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814611)

Some thoughts for consideration:

- Within 50 years (if not much sooner), we'll almost certainly have cured aging. Once humans regularly live in the many hundreds (or even thousands) of years, a 20, 30, 50, even 100 year trip won't seem as long (plus we'll have great on-board entertainment to keep us busy thanks to advanced robotic girlfriends).

- Once you approach even half the speed of light, local time slows down for you, so e.g. a 50 year trip would be 'only' 30 or 40 years (I haven't done the exact math)

- Accelerating humans to half C won't be easy, but if you consider that aging may be cured in our lifetimes, the goal of sending autonomous robotic explorers to stars (a la Mars Curiosity) just 13ly away may be quite feasible in some of our lifetimes. That alone is exciting. If you live 500 years, and you send a robotic probe at 1/10th C to a star 13 ly away (130 year trip plus 13 years for data to come back), you'll EASILY live to see the results. And beyond that, who knows - the technology of 150 years from now, we may well be sending the first humans to the nearest stars by then.

This is not even 'inane fantasy', it's just what is likely to become possible, and even to become mundane reality.

My suspicion is that we'll never find a way to travel faster than the speed of light. But our discussions seem to be limited by a common inability to imagine that other variables, that we take for granted, may change dramatically - e.g. the typical human lifespan.

Also, perspective: We've been 'human' for approximately 2 million years. We have millions of years ahead of us as a species, and even on cosmic scales, you can do an enormous amount in even just 2 million years.

I'm cautiously optimistic. I think our future in space is practically certain, and that we'll probably ultimately reach hundreds of other stars, and establish colonies on other planets. It's a matter of when and how, not if. The only thing that can stop us if everyone collectively gives up. That isn't going to happen, there will always be humans who want to explore.

Re:14 LY from earth? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815429)

Within 50 years (if not much sooner), we'll almost certainly have cured aging.

Well, there are some folks who know a lot more about medicine and biology than I do who believe that, but it's far from a certainty. Note that the average and median life spans for people have increased greatly in the last hundred years, but wake me up when someone makes it much past 115. Those outliers have been around since antiquity, there are quite a few in my family tree from centuries ago (an uncle was into genealogy).

I'm 60 and already starting to feel the effects of aging. I'll be 110 in 50 years. I'm pretty skeptical, they're going to have to figure out how to extend telomeraise (I don't know how to spell it, and neither does FireFox) without giving you cancer. They're going to have to figure out how to stop genetic errors when cells divide, and quite a few other thorny problems. I doubt my ten year old great nephew will see it, let alone me, and it may be an impossibility.

Once you approach even half the speed of light, local time slows down for you, so e.g. a 50 year trip would be 'only' 30 or 40 years (I haven't done the exact math)

Unless I'm mistaken the math is straightforward; at C the trip would seem instantaneous to the traveler, so half C a 50 light year trip would seem like 25.

But then, there's the problem that time speeds up greatly as you age -- remember how far apart Christmases were when you were five? That phenomenon accelerates as you age.

the goal of sending autonomous robotic explorers to stars (a la Mars Curiosity) just 13ly away may be quite feasible in some of our lifetimes

Certainly we'll have robotic probes to the stars in a few hundred years, but I'm very skeptical that you'll see it in your lifetime.

we take for granted, may change dramatically - e.g. the typical human lifespan.

The typical lifespan already has nearly doubled, but the longest lifespan hasn't changed at all.

Also, perspective: We've been 'human' for approximately 2 million years. We have millions of years ahead of us as a species, and even on cosmic scales, you can do an enormous amount in even just 2 million years.

I'm cautiously optimistic. I think our future in space is practically certain, and that we'll probably ultimately reach hundreds of other stars, and establish colonies on other planets. It's a matter of when and how, not if.

That I will agree with. I'm in the middle of writing a sci-fi book set ten million years in the future. In the book, we have evolved into at least four separate species (there may be more, I never know from one chapter to the next what's going to happen), one on terraformed Mars, one Terraformed Venus, and two on Earth. The Earthians have time travel, FTL travel, and a 500 year old is a young man. If you're interested, here's the first chapter [slashdot.org] . What's done so far is all posted (if you hate it, blame slashdot! They started it...).

Re:14 LY from earth? (1)

the gnat (153162) | about a year and a half ago | (#42816749)

Well, there are some folks who know a lot more about medicine and biology than I do who believe that

I know a lot about biology and medicine, thanks to wasting half of my 20s in grad school, and I don't believe we'll have cured aging in 50 years. We may have some promising leads and a few very expensive experimental treatments, but I think it's going to take centuries before we'll have widespread longevity treatments. I would love to be proved wrong though.

Note that the average and median life spans for people have increased greatly in the last hundred years

That is basically the result of massive advances in public health and disease prevention, and massive reduction in child mortality (which is partly the same thing, but also specific medical advances). The life expectancy in wealthy countries hasn't changed much in the last 50 years, because we already did the easy part. We could probably add another few years easily with better preventive medicine, but even the countries with heavily subsidized healthcare don't have that much better life expectancy. It gets way more difficult from here.

Re:14 LY from earth? (2)

Unknown Lamer (78415) | about a year and a half ago | (#42813999)

Well, if an inhabited planet were only 15 or 30 light years away... there's a chance for some form of communication... a "hey we're a technological society" beacon at least. Having any evidence of another technological civilization in our neighborhood would be incredible, and might even inspire humanity to do things like colonize the solar system.

Re:14 LY from earth? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815061)

If we did find a planet with technological creatures that close, it would be a pretty good indication that tech civilizations were pretty common.

It would be pretty hard to decipher the signal, though. You've probably seen this [slashdot.org] and this. [slashdot.org] We miight not even realize the signals were from an intelligence -- Greg Egan's Luminous has an extraterrestrial race with a completely different math than ours (I read it in 1995's The Year's Best Science Fiction, it's a very good, thought-provoking read. Wikipedia says he has a book by the same name, with that story in it).

Re:14 LY from earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42816103)

Nope, the singularity is just a few decades off, we'll be just fine, just upload to a computer and "sleep 315576000" yourself and wake up near a new planet, easy peasy. have faith my good fellow.

Re:14 LY from earth? (2)

whitroth (9367) | about a year and a half ago | (#42811357)

Nope. Darkover.

          mark

Re:14 LY from earth? (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about a year and a half ago | (#42812277)

No, but you might find a guy named Rimmer

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094535/ [imdb.com]

SMOKE ME A KIPPER (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42816157)

I'll be back before breakfast

Re:14 LY from earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42817261)

Krypton

Nice thing about red dwarf stars (4, Interesting)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about a year and a half ago | (#42810511)

One attractive feature of red dwarf stars, it would seem to me, is that they have much longer lifetimes than sun-like stars. More time for complex life to evolve!

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42810705)

One attractive feature of red dwarf stars, it would seem to me, is that they have much longer lifetimes than sun-like stars.

You mean Sun-like or Sol-like -- by definition, it's a sun, it's just not our sun.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (5, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42810743)

One attractive feature of red dwarf stars, it would seem to me, is that they have much longer lifetimes than sun-like stars. More time for complex life to evolve!

On the other hand, being (necessarily, due to temperature issues) much closer to their star, these planets are likely to be tidally locked, which is *not* a good thing for complex life trying to evolve.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42810863)

No way. As I learned from Star Trek, they're all M-class. All of them.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (1)

gewalker (57809) | about a year and a half ago | (#42810975)

Wouldn't a tidally locked planet at the outer edge of the habitable zone for a rotating planet be a nice planet on the sunny side. Near the terminus you could have nasty weather, but unless it is so cold on the dark side that "good stuff" in the atmosphere precipitates out, shouldn't the light side be reasonable for life.

Of course, gravity and temperature is only a part of what makes a planet habitable. You might want something solid to stand upon, water and other favorite chemicals, non-toxic atmosphere, etc. so 6% of planets being "habitable" is probably a gross overstatement.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42811471)

On a tidally-locked planet, there would typically be a ring of habitable area around the sun-facing / sun-opposed side. The width of the band would vary in exact location by which part of the habitable zone it fell into, and in width by the atmosphere. At least, that's my layman's understanding that I picked up from Larry Niven's books.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year and a half ago | (#42811599)

It would be awfully interesting to model the climate of a tidally locked Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone. Presumably the dark side is going to be very very cold, so what does that do for atmospheric circulation patterns?

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#42811781)

Windy.

We've found some tidally locked gas giants and they have winds that make the ones on regular gas giants look light.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (1)

gewalker (57809) | about a year and a half ago | (#42812487)

I was not aware we had imaged or otherwise observed atmospheric circulation on any tidally locked jovians. Not much success with Google, can you document? The only reference I found [arxiv.org] was under "strongly irradiated conditions" -- clearly not the same as a planet at the outer habitable zone. Since winds are driven by temperature differences, I would think that as you approach the center of the daylight side (or the night side), the winds would diminish.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814007)

I think that's probably the one I was thinking of. The patterns might be a bit different for something in the habitable zone, but tide locked is still going to mean windy. Venus, for example, isn't tide locked but it does rotate very slowly. Winds on Venus reach 700 km/h.

The winds might diminish as you approach the point directly under the sun (or the one directly opposite). They might be eyes of giant, perpetual hurricanes. But most of the planet would be very windy.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42816123)

you're full of shit, they haven't done much more than show a couple of pixels of these far off gas giants, there is no way they can determine weather patterns.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (1)

HiThere (15173) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814985)

If you have a tidally locked planet with an atmosphere, the air will be rising on the sunwards side, blowing horizontally to the night side, where it will cool, descend, and then return to the sunwards side.

So, to repeat the other poster, "Windy". The theory doesn't apply only to gas giants. (IIRC, some early modeling of Mercury even predicted this kind of pattern on Mercury, where the only gasses would be some of the heavier inert gasses and, of course, Mercury. And Gadolinium.)

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42815385)

I would have thought that once the air was on the dark side, the lack of any source of heat there, apart from geothermal, would cause the air to freeze and stay there in a solid form, not make its way back to the sunlit side.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (3, Informative)

rgbatduke (1231380) | about a year and a half ago | (#42812707)

A tidally locked planet would have all of its atmosphere period precipitated out on the dark side. There would be no habitable band. The antipode opposite the sun would be open to space, cooling the surface there, essentially 100% of the time. There would be no factors driving global circulation -- the atmosphere would rapidly stratify (and get very hot indeed, stably, on the side facing the sun). Eventually, where by eventually I mean in a matter of a few days if one stopped the Earth from rotating without vaporizing it (can't be done, sure, I know) it get cold enough to first rain, then snow, the snow carbon dioxide, then the greenhouse effect disappears and the temperature really plummets, and in just a little bit more time you have a rain of oxygen and nitrogen followed (as they deplete the atmosphere by a fall of solid oxygen-nitrogen sleet). As fast as it falls out on the dark side, it is replenished from the warm side (cooling as it comes) until the warm side -- now bloody hot not unlike the lit side of the moon -- has almost no atmosphere at all. The dark side has a rather large mountain of frozen air centered fairly symmetrically on the solar antipode. There would probably be some residual partial pressure of gas, but it wouldn't be enough to keep your blood from boiling anywhere on the planet's surface.

If the atmosphere was a more exotic mix, you'd actually precipitate out the gases in layers, frozen methane in one layer, oxygen in another, hydrogen and helium on top of the whole mess at the end.

So "tidally locked" is indeed a fatal problem.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42813873)

Tidal locking by itself is not a fatal problem. For example, it has been estimated that if Earth were tidally locked, the night side temperature would be fairly frosty bottoming out at -33 C but that's nowhere near cold enough to cause the atmosphere to freeze out. An atmosphere anywhere above 10% of Earth's is sufficient to transfer heat to the night side. Water ice accumulation would not be a problem either, since the oceans would be free to flow underneath an ice sheet.

However, tidal heating could be a problem for such a close orbit. Planetary orbits don't start out near-perfectly circular, there's a period of time during which the orbit of a planet is eccentric. This induces a strongly variable tidal force that will heat up the planet and burn off any volatiles like water. You would have to introduce water (e.g. by comet impacts) after the orbit has settled at low eccentricity.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (3, Interesting)

HiThere (15173) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815007)

That was the old theory. Currently, IIUC, it is only believed to apply if there is no atmosphere. If there is an atmosphere, its circulation redistributes the heat...though slowly enough that there is, indeed, a huge difference in temperatures between the day side and the night side. Naturally, exact details depend on the composition of the atmosphere. (If Venus were tidally locked, it wouldn't change much of anything.)

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42812551)

On the other hand, being (necessarily, due to temperature issues) much closer to their star, these planets are likely to be tidally locked, which is *not* a good thing for complex life trying to evolve.

Do we know of any tidally locked planets?
If not, why raise this supposition?

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42812609)

Do we know of any tidally locked planets?

Yes.

If not, why raise this supposition?

Because the physics says so.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42812657)

Do we know of any tidally locked planets?

Yes.

>

Name one.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (1)

atrain728 (1835698) | about a year and a half ago | (#42812949)

Mercury.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (3, Funny)

atrain728 (1835698) | about a year and a half ago | (#42812965)

Oh and I'm wrong.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42813317)

Yup. Its rarer than most people tend to think.
Even though Mercury is close to being locked (and maybe becoming more so) its not locked, nor is Venus.

In fact, I've seen it postulated that only satellites with a common origin (our moon for example) are likely
to be locked, as are moons (any body, really) which has a diameter of significant size relative to the body it orbits.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#42816935)

and Mercury has no life. Proof! Brilliant! :-)

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (4, Insightful)

Dasher42 (514179) | about a year and a half ago | (#42813657)

What about moons orbiting gas giants in the habitable zone of red dwarves - any reason to pass that up?

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814269)

On the other hand, being (necessarily, due to temperature issues) much closer to their star, these planets are likely to be tidally locked, which is *not* a good thing for complex life trying to evolve.

Another concern is that a lot of M-class stars (Proxima Centauri, for example) are flare stars. Flares are kind of a big deal when we experience them, and that's with flares that are much less powerful in proportion to the star at a distance much further away from a red dwarf's habitable zone. Imagine living 20 million or so miles from a star that arbitrarily doubles or triples its luminosity ... would make for some interesting evolutionary challenges.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (2)

mpthompson (457482) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815541)

On the other hand, being (necessarily, due to temperature issues) much closer to their star, these planets are likely to be tidally locked, which is *not* a good thing for complex life trying to evolve.

Larger gas planets in the habital zone could have Titan/Mars size moons that may be tidally locked to their parent planet, but have an apparent "day" with respect to the parent star on the order of 48 to 200 hours long. Given that we believe there are many more moons than planets in any given system, it seems that moons would likely to be where the interesting biological action may be occurring.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (1)

goldstein (705041) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815813)

There is a possibility that water would evaporate on the irradiated side and freeze out on the dark side. This is unlikely to be a good thing most of the water would end up in the form of ice. Note that this would be similar to the situation on Mars - most of that planets water is locked up in the weakly irradiated polar ice caps. Variables that might affect the probability of this scenario include: - atmospheric density and concentration of greenhouse gases - geographic distribution of land and water (a large continent on the middle of the dark side would receive little heat from elsewhere by means other than atmospheric circulation

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (3, Insightful)

arcctgx (607542) | about a year and a half ago | (#42811109)

On the other hand, such stars have deeper convection zones which makes their magnetic dynamos much stronger than in the Sun. The resulting magnetic activity may manifest itself in very strong flares. If the magnetic field of the planet is not strong enough, such phenomena could adversely affect the evolution of complex life forms.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42811783)

The resulting magnetic activity may manifest itself in very strong flares.

Wouldn't those flares also make for large variations in radiative output? Imagine what would happen to us if Sun suddenly decided to increase (or decrease) its output by 50 percent for a few weeks or months.

Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (2)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about a year and a half ago | (#42812493)

Wouldn't those flares also make for large variations in radiative output? Imagine what would happen to us if Sun suddenly decided to increase (or decrease) its output by 50 percent for a few weeks or months.

Apparently, yes: see arXiv.1111.2872 [arxiv.org] .

older stars lack "metal" (1)

peter303 (12292) | about a year and a half ago | (#42812419)

Metal, i.e. any element heavier than helium is astronomical jargon, accumulates through a succession of supernovae. Theoretically some heavy early stars could if gone supernova in a billion years. Then recycled into red dwarfs as old as 11 billion years.

Um... (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42810555)

I'm not sure that is a large enough sample size to say, 6% is an accurate number. Perhaps they are over reaching? Just a little.

Re:Um... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42810911)

The summary is a bit difficult to interpret. For example, it seems like they're reporting percentages only considering red dwarf stars with planets, and then extrapolating to red dwarf stars (undetermined with/without planets). Perhaps this explains how they got a 6% estimate when 3/95 is much closer to 3%. With a 3/95 proportion of "earth-like planets" to "no earth-like planets" the 95% confidence interval for the probability of having an "earth-like" planet around a red dwarf (with planets?) is 0.66% to 8.95%. The only way to actually determine the closest "earth-like" planet orbiting a red dwarf would be to actually examine each red dwarf in order of nearness. Statistics always have uncertainties, and it would be awesome if those uncertainties were reported along with the "most likely" or "best guess" at the true value. I suppose it's too confusing for most.

In case you want to play with the confidence intervals:
http://statpages.org/confint.html

Re:Um... (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42812639)

Its not just the summary, the linked article is equally confusing.

They started out by saying "looked at 95 candidate planets", which implies some selection process before any analysis, but it never is defined what constitutes a "candidate".

That's the problem with a Journalist (with no formal training in either Journalism or Astronomy) writing stories about complex issues.

The only problem with this (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#42810593)

So let's say you travel those 14 light-years, and get there to find that some holographic guy named Arnold J Rimmer has been exiled there for being a complete smeghead. I mean, that's worse than merely a wasted trip!

Re:The only problem with this (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#42810649)

Thats exactly why you send the telephone sanitizers, mba's, etc first, and we will follow later. Um, yeah.

Re:The only problem with this (1)

tom17 (659054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42810949)

14 light years is quite a long ways off though. By the time we get there we'd probably be dealing with Kryten the paranoid android.

Re:The only problem with this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42811037)

Or even Marvin.

Re:The only problem with this (1)

Jhon (241832) | about a year and a half ago | (#42810653)

If you're in trouble he will save the day
He's brave and he's fearless come what may
Without him the mission would go astray

He's Arnold, Arnold, Arnold Rimmer
Without him life would be much grimmer
He's handsome, trim, and no-one slimmer
He will never need a zimmer

Re:The only problem with this (2)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42812077)

But this sounds like rather interesting quest.
Smoke me a kipper, I'll be home for breakfast.

The problem with Red Dwarf planets... (4, Funny)

SailorSpork (1080153) | about a year and a half ago | (#42810617)

...is that its cold outside, and there's no kind of atmosphere. You're all alone, more or less.

Re:The problem with Red Dwarf planets... (3, Funny)

tom17 (659054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42810977)

Well from what I understand, the reddish colour will result in goldfish shoals nibbling at your toes too.

But there is also fresh mango juice on offer, so there is that if it helps.

Re:The problem with Red Dwarf planets... (1)

jaminJay (1198469) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814567)

Fun in the sun!

Re:The problem with Red Dwarf planets... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#42811009)

It's pretty cold outside here, too (at least in the north right now) and we're alone as far as we can ascertain. But why would the newly found planet not have an atmosphere? It isn't like they can tell if it has a magnetic field. If it does, and it's Earth's mass more or less, it should have an atmosphere.

Re:The problem with Red Dwarf planets... (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42812755)

It isn't like they can tell if it has a magnetic field. If it does, and it's Earth's mass more or less, it should have an atmosphere.

Its not a given that a magnetic field is necessary for a planet to have an atmosphere.
Venus has a pretty dense atmosphere, but virtually no magnetic field [ucla.edu] .

Re:The problem with Red Dwarf planets... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815069)

Interesting, thanks. Apparently I've been miseducated.

Re:The problem with Red Dwarf planets... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42813377)

I guess you missed the [wikipedia.org] reference [lyricsondemand.com]

Just 13 Light Years (2)

avandesande (143899) | about a year and a half ago | (#42810697)

Just 13 Light Years LOL!

Re:Just 13 Light Years (1)

GlobalEcho (26240) | about a year and a half ago | (#42810979)

About a quarter million years of travel time at the current Viking probe speeds. Closer to a billion at Viking sailing ship speeds.

Re:Just 13 Light Years (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42811351)

People just don't get it. Humans will NEVER travel more and a couple of AU from earth. The distances are nearly beyond comprehension. Science Fiction is just that fiction and always will be.

Re:Just 13 Light Years (0)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#42811857)

Anti-space nutters always seem to judge anything space-related on whether or no we can "go there." A planet 13 light years away is a lot easier to image with practical telescopes than one 13 000 light years away.

Look, I get that you're obsessed with interstellar travel, but it ain't going to happen in your lifetime.

Re:Just 13 Light Years (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about a year and a half ago | (#42812091)

People just don't get it. Humans will NEVER travel more and a couple of AU from earth. The distances are nearly beyond comprehension. Science Fiction is just that fiction and always will be.

Never travel more than a couple AU? I'm pretty sure the entire Earth moves farther than that (6.28 AU, to be a bit more precise) every single year. I think somehow we'll manage it some day.

Re:Just 13 Light Years (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42813099)

"from earth" learn to read

Re:Just 13 Light Years (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42812271)

I can see us getting 1/2 c hundreds of years in the future.
Taking 26 years to get there 26 years for some of them to get back. 10 years of study.
However at 1/2 c speed. I would expect it would be better to send a probe at that speed and then send its data back at the speed of light. And really determine if there is anything worth people visiting.

However I don't see a Star Trek type of future. Perhaps most likely a Red Dwarf (TV show) future where there are no aliens that we know of and anything we do find, is because we left it there in the past.

Re:Just 13 Light Years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42816167)

a lot of people would have said that you're bat shit crazy a hundred and 20 years ago if you mentioned flying through the sky at hundreds of miles per hour too. Singularity is coming my friend.

Re:Just 13 Light Years (2)

forestgomp (526317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42811941)

That's 14 years of travel at 0.5g constant-acceleration
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_travel_using_constant_acceleration#Interstellar_traveling_speeds [wikipedia.org]
Just don't hit anything....

Re:Just 13 Light Years (1)

avandesande (143899) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814963)

Double that if you don't want to blitz past the planet at close to C....

Re:Just 13 Light Years (1)

forestgomp (526317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815853)

Don't think so: "If a ship is using 0.5g constant acceleration or greater, it will appear to get near the speed of light in about a year, and have traveled about half a light year in distance. For the middle of the journey the ship's speed will be roughly the speed of light, and it will slow down again to zero over a year at the end of the journey."

Thus:

After          Total Distance       Speed
-----          --------------       -----
1 year         0.5 light years      accelerated to C
13 years       13.5 light years     C
14 years       14 light years       decelerated to 0

Re:Just 13 Light Years (1)

avandesande (143899) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817775)

So the acceleration isn't constant, it is shut off after a year.

I thought Red Dwarfs only had (2)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year and a half ago | (#42810729)

Lister, Kryten, the Cat and Holly?

Re:I thought Red Dwarfs only had (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42810773)

They've also got a bunch of Scutters orbiting it, don't forget those.

Re:I thought Red Dwarfs only had (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42813247)

Kachanski(SP?) is on Seasons 7 and 8

Re:I thought Red Dwarfs only had (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42813267)

Rimmer?

Re:I thought Red Dwarfs only had (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814083)

he was virtual, a hologram so he really didn't exist. Not until hard light at least and by then the show was more about the characters playing off against one another. That was the "Legion" episode AFAIR and introduced mamosian anti-matter chopsticks.

"How do you land the damn thing?" - Cat

The great thing about planets orbiting red dwarf (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42810919)

stars is that, 1. if something like human life exists, 2. they are technologically advanced, and 3. They travel to Earth, they will have super powers. In addition, if they anticipate a super nova of the red star, they will likely send a single space ship with a single occupant to Earth. A few others will follow, but by what mechanism I no longer recall. I'm sure someone can fill in the blanks.

RN

Earth-sized... (2)

BlueTak (1218450) | about a year and a half ago | (#42811441)

Why couldn't life exist on a bigger planet. Well I know that gravity would be stronger but in water, gravity means little. Is my question stupid ?

Re:Earth-sized... (1)

BeanThere (28381) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814877)

It's not a stupid question, my impression is that (basically) we don't know for sure. The 'consensus' seems to be that any kind of 'earth-like' or intelligent life is improbable or impossible, but that other forms of (probably simple, if they do exist) life might exist. The conditions for humans would likely be inhospitable though. Jupiter's core/surface, for example, contains a massive, deep 'ocean' of liquid metallic hydrogen.

I think more interesting though, is if Jupiter is anything to go by, big planets may have lots of moons, and those moons could certainly have conditions favorable for either interesting forms of life, or colonization.

Re:Earth-sized... (2)

BeanThere (28381) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814975)

FWIW, some additional info:

Life possible on extrasolar moons [sciencedaily.com] "In their search for habitable worlds, astronomers have started to consider exomoons, or those likely orbiting planets outside the solar system. In a new study, a pair of researchers has found that exomoons are just as likely to support life as exoplanets."

Just keep in mind this field is an interesting area of active research. So take things with a grain of salt. But we have huge amounts of interesting new data coming from a.o. the Kepler observatory, and other projects. E.g.:

At Least One in Six Stars Has an Earth-Sized Planet, Analysis Finds [sciencedaily.com] "A new analysis of Kepler data shows that about 17 percent of stars have an Earth-sized planet in an orbit closer than Mercury. Since the Milky Way has about 100 billion stars, there are at least 17 billion Earth-sized worlds out there"

Planets Abound: Astronomers Estimate That at Least 100 Billion Planets Populate the Galaxy [sciencedaily.com] "There's at least 100 billion planets in the galaxy -- just our galaxy,"

Fifteen New Planets Hint at 'Traffic Jam' of Moons in Habitable Zone [sciencedaily.com] "Added to the 19 similar planets already discovered in habitable zones, where the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water, the new finds suggest that there may be a 'traffic jam' of all kinds of strange worlds in regions that could potentially support life."

Master of Orion (1)

anerki (169995) | about a year and a half ago | (#42811601)

If you'd've played Master of Orion you would have learned that 20 years ago. If you're looking for habitable planets for humanoids, go for the red & yellow stars, avoid the purple and green ones.

Red Dwarf? (1)

RNLockwood (224353) | about a year and a half ago | (#42811841)

Red Dwarf? There's only one Red Dwarf; it needs a coat of paint and it is only seldom ever near an earth sized planet.

Not Dwarf (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42812891)

"Fun size."

-Stephon

14 LY , currently with standard rockets: no! but: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42815345)

The article was written by Tom Keller, an aerospace engineer who has worked as a computer systems analyst for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

1 : “Inside the Skunk Works (Lockheed’s secret research and development entity), we were a small, intensely cohesive group consisting of about fifty veteran engineers and designers and a hundred or so expert machinists and shop workers. Our forte was building technologically advanced airplanes of small number and of high class for highly secret missions.”

2 : “We already have the means to travel among the stars, but these technologies are locked up in black projects, and it would take an act of God to ever get them out to benefit humanity. Anything you can imagine, we already know how to do.”

3 : “We now have the technology to take ET home. No, it won’t take someone’s lifetime to do it. There is an error in the equations. We know what it is. We now have the capability to travel to the stars. First, you have to understand that we will not get to the stars using chemical propulsion. Second, we have to devise a new propulsion technology. What we have to do is find out where Einstein went wrong.”

4 : When Rich was asked how UFO propulsion worked, he said, “Let me ask you. How does ESP work?” The questioner responded with, “All points in time and space are connected?” Rich then said, “That’s how it works!”

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>