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Researchers Confirm Exoplanet Has Clouds Using Hubble Telescope

Unknown Lamer posted about 7 months ago | from the cloudy-with-a-chance-of-heavy-metal dept.

Space 62

Exoplanet GJ 1214 b was discovered in 2009 by the MEarth project. Researchers now have strong evidence that it has an atmosphere. "[A] team of astronomers led by UChicago's Laura Kreidberg and Jacob Bean have detected clear evidence of clouds in the atmosphere of GJ 1214b from data collected with the Hubble Space Telescope. The Hubble observations used 96 hours of telescope time spread over 11 months. This was the largest Hubble program ever devoted to studying a single exoplanet. ... The first spectra, which were obtained by Bean in 2010 using a ground-based telescope, suggested that the planet's atmosphere either was predominantly water vapor or hydrogen-dominated with high-altitude clouds. ... More precise Hubble observations made in 2012 and 2013 allowed the team to distinguish between these two scenarios. ... The best explanation for the new data is that there are high-altitude clouds in the atmosphere of the planet, though their composition is unknown. Models of super-Earth atmospheres predict clouds could be made out of potassium chloride or zinc sulfide at the scorching temperatures of 450 degrees Fahrenheit found on GJ 1214b."

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houston... (0)

crutchy (1949900) | about 7 months ago | (#45837221)

...i think the telescope may be pointed the wrong way 'round

Re:houston... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45837319)

so it's a program of gradual disclosure instead of admitting that ETs, fallen angels, whatever ancient or modern name you care to call them have been here for some time, are doing something nefarious and have some kind of deal with the government. mark my words, it'll be an exoplanet or three, then a signal or something, then signs of ANCIENT (therefore nonthreatening) relics on mars or the dark side of the moon, then it'll move up to something more in your face, course with lots of hollywood crap about how they're here to help us to get the population used to the idea typical psi-op style.

if you have never been victimized by the horror and fear of the socalled alien abduction phenomenon and have never done the research and want to revel in your own smallmindedness at someone else's expense, then ridicule and scoff and laugh, that's how your type deals with anything new and revolutionary.

Re:houston... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45837387)

Gather lots of real proof, publish it or spew it over the Web, then maybe someone will care. Until then it's business as usual. We don't have FTL, fusion rockets or even cheap launch capability so it's not like we will be going anywhere soon. They will come to us, or won't because FTL doesn't work.

Re:houston... (3, Interesting)

suso (153703) | about 7 months ago | (#45837565)

You might be surprised what could happen as far as motivation to build new technologies if the general public saw a real picture of some distant world with bluish waters, brown and green continents and pearly white clouds.

Re: houston... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45839459)

And oil. You forgot the oil.

Re:houston... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 7 months ago | (#45840427)

You might be surprised what could happen as far as motivation to build new technologies if the general public saw a real picture of some distant world with bluish waters, brown and green continents and pearly white clouds.

you might also be surprised how much more quickly the world we live on now gets fucked up when governments and corporations realize they have a 'plan b'

Re:houston... (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 7 months ago | (#45837461)

or the dark side of the moon
The moon has no "dar side". It has an ordinary day and night cycle, however a day lasts 14 earth days and the night 14 earth days as well. It can simply be observed by watching the "fool moon" - "new moon" - cycle. (* facepalm *)

Re:houston... (3, Funny)

hubie (108345) | about 7 months ago | (#45839711)

There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it's all dark.

Re:houston... (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 7 months ago | (#45839793)

There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it's all dark.

Only in the same way that the earth is all dark.

Re:houston... (1)

hubie (108345) | about 7 months ago | (#45840409)

(You need to be an old fart of a certain minimum age to appreciate the reference [pink-floyd-lyrics.com] .)

All he needs.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45841323)

....is a short, sharp shock. And he'll never do it again...

Re:houston... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45840079)

One side of the moon is always dark, it might not always be the same side but other than some Earth glow the side not facing the sun is always dark.

Of course you are perfectly aware of that, just like the term "dark side of the moon" is a reference to the side that is tidally locked to point away from Earth which I'm sure you are also aware of. Just like the saying I'm in the dark about what is going on doesn't mean you are actually in a room without any light.

Re:houston... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45837547)

There's having an open mind, and then there's having a mind so open that your brains fall out.

Re:houston... (4, Funny)

cusco (717999) | about 7 months ago | (#45838043)

I'm hoping this is just one of the best trolls I've seen in a while. If not, I would recommend counseling, and some Preparation H for the anal probing.

Re:houston... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 7 months ago | (#45837335)

Researchers Confirm Exoplanet Has Clouds Using Hubble Telescope

What I want to know is how the planet got clouds using the telescope?

Re:houston... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 7 months ago | (#45837367)

next they'll be telling us they've discovered piles on uranus

Re:houston... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45837583)

or that there are clingons.

Re:houston... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45838529)

Well, all joking aside, this does raise the serious issue of why NASA isn't paying more attention to Uranus.

Apart from more Hubble time, NASA really needs to pull all the stops out to launch a probe first to orbit and then to re-enter into Uranus.

I can only conclude that the constant background of tittering whenever Uranus is mentioned is stifling needed scientific equiry.

Re:houston... (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 7 months ago | (#45839167)

nonsense, they only need rename the planet to something less suggestive, perhaps Urbanghole

Re:houston... (1)

hubie (108345) | about 7 months ago | (#45839737)

Don't worry, they'll rename it in the future [comedycentral.com] .

Re:houston... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 7 months ago | (#45840473)

does raise the serious issue of why NASA isn't paying more attention to Uranus

...it's because the TSA is already paying close attention to Uranus.

launch a probe... to re-enter into Uranus.

awe c'mon... you said all joking aside

And, in the clouds... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45837227)

Are the planet's data! They've moved their data into the clouds so we can read it!

Re:And, in the clouds... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45837451)

Are the planet's data! They've moved their data into the clouds so we can read it!

Damn. And I thought the NSA's reach was at least contained within this atmosphere. No wonder we're broke.

gundogdu (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45837291)

good. thank you

zayn malik gif [zaynmalikgif.com]

We're exploring space just fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45837375)

from right here in our shirtsleeves sitting at a computer desk. I wonder why going up 0.1 Earth radii to stay within the Earth's atmosphere is "exploring space"...

Re:We're exploring space just fine (5, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 7 months ago | (#45837549)

from right here in our shirtsleeves sitting at a computer desk. I wonder why going up 0.1 Earth radii to stay within the Earth's atmosphere is "exploring space"...

Well, sure, if you want to be pedantic you could call quantum physics space-time exploration too, all of science and reality for that matter. However, note that despite the (non-avian) Dinosaurs extensive duration of "exploring space" they were extinguished by a single rock. So, while it is wondrous to peer out from deep in your basements through vast windows (and unixes) upon the Universe at large, it means fuck-all ultimately if you can't do anything about the state of things physically. The universe is a dangerous place. Entropy is out to kill us. Earth's inhabitants are living on borrowed time. It's not just rocks, but solar flares, gamma ray bursts, super volcanoes, etc. Earth is 500,000 year over-due for a magnetic pole flip.

Window shopping for planets is fine, but the tech to get there will include the tech to survive outside the magnetosphere on the Moon, Mars, among the Asteroid Belt, etc. It's been over four decades since humans were outside the magnetosphere. That's irresponsible for any sentient race capable of even a modicum of extra-planetary space exploration. If we found out tomorrow that a big unstoppable rock would hit Earth this year your extinction would be your fault. Don't think that's possible? Eris, a dwarf planet 27% more massive than Pluto, wasn't discovered until 2005! And it comes in closer than Pluto's orbit too. Pluto's not a planet because if it were they'd have to admit there was ANOTHER PLANET unnoticed right in your back yard). Humans are basically blind to space, having extreme tunnel vision.

Trillions are wasted in pointless wars over privatization of industry, and the machines of war burned to make room for more such war spending, meanwhile not instead profiting far more lucratively from space exploration? The scaremongers haven't figured out that our own universe is a far more dangerous threat, and that actually saving the Earth is far more grandiose, expensive, and thus a more profitable venture that war? If fighting extinction through self sustaining off-world colonies isn't your #1 priority, then you're obviously not self aware enough to be deemed sentient. Thus, solves the Fermi Paradox: We gave you a warp drive, you'd stay on your wet rock and turn it into a bomb.

Re:We're exploring space just fine (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about 7 months ago | (#45837919)

We'd explore more if the politicians could figure out how to make money on it. As it stands, screwing with the people is much more lucrative.

Re:We're exploring space just fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45838261)

How could you "explore" a vacuum "more"? You want to put on a rubber suit and "explore" each empty cubic meter for yourself? Why? We have perfectly fine pictures of dead rocky deserts on other planets. Here's what you can do: go to the Atacama Desert on foot, and carry in your backpack everything you think you'll need there to live there for the rest of your life. This is pretty much what the Space Nutters are proposing. Oh, and there's going to be an unshielded nuclear pile there too, just to add to the realism. Don't forget, even in a radioactive Atacama Desert, you'll still have air and the correct gravity for free...

Is it starting to sink in yet? No one's going anywhere.

Still not clear? How about some numbers? Human population right here on Earth is increasing by 228,000 people every day. In all of recorded history, only 24 people ever went further than LEO. Now never mind the fact they went to the Moon for a few days and came back.

Every day, there are TEN THOUSAND more people born than ever went just to the Moon!

TEN THOUSAND Apollo programs! EVERY DAY. And all Apollo did was put a few test pilots in rubber suits on a nearby dead rock for a few days. And they took everything they needed with them, never mind the kind of magical "tech" you'd need for a colony...

Or you can cling to the kind of hysterical childish sci-fi worldview of programmers raised on Star Trek.

I wonder, if you have any friends, do you talk about your apocalyptic world view? It's not much different from any religion I've heard of, how we're doomed, the end of the world, but the Chosen Ones will get rewarded!

Grow up from your delusional twaddle already.

Re:We're exploring space just fine (3, Insightful)

cusco (717999) | about 7 months ago | (#45838277)

I hitchhiked to Cape Canaveral for the third launch of Colombia, and went to the visitor's center there. Lying outside was a complete Saturn 5. Inside the visitor's center's museum was the matching LEM, Command Module and Rover. IIRC this was the assembly for the cancelled Apollo 19. Talking with staff at the center I found that there were three others scattered around the country, from the rest of the cancelled missions. They said that everything had been purchased and delivered for all four missions, even the fuel, and all that remained was the least expensive portion of the projects, conducting the actual missions. One of the other visitors who had joined the discussion said, "Since the only NASA and JPL would be necessary to that part there wasn't any need to fund it. Their real constituents, Boeing, Honeywell and such, had gotten their money already. Better to take the mission funding and spend it on killing brown people."

On my way back out I looked at that enormous, glorious marvel of engineering abandoned and baking in the sun and cried. The Shuttle launch was spectacular, but that image is the one that I still remember most vividly.

Re:We're exploring space just fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45839575)

Some of those Saturn V parts got reused for other launches and projects, like Skylab.

Re:We're exploring space just fine (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45838021)

"the tech"? Are you a Scientologist? You sound like someone invoking a religion here. "get there"? Not gonna happen. Get over it. Put down the sci-fi and take a dose of reality. "the tech"? Based on what physics? Chemical rockets are *it*, there's nothing else. Invoking dinosaurs in magical spacecraft (they'd have to explore space-time pretty hard to have come up with something better than what we have, no?) makes you sound like your world view stopped growing when you were reading Calvin and Hobbes.

Grow up. Your friendly tiger is all in your head. As are your neuroses about the incoming space apocalypse and "the tech".

There is no "tech", and there's precious little we or you or anyone can do if a planetary event happens. I'm sure you don't care much about the people in your neighborhood RIGHT NOW that might need far less help, like the poor or the homeless.

Yet somehow I'm supposed to listen to your fanatical, religious, neurotic sci-fi fueled juvenile dreck about the species?

There is no Fermi Paradox. The rules of physics are the same everywhere in the universe, the materials and energy sources that are practical are the same. They won't have "Warp drive" because we won't have warp drive.

The real paradox is why you would continue to believe your juvenile nonsense despite the fact that the internet has all the resources for free to learn about reality.

You're a loon. I'll bet you're a software engineer who doesn't have the first clue about practical physical reality and you probably wonder why NASA doesn't simply upgrade the firmware in its rockets to unlock the "wrap drive" feature.

You're stupid, uneducated, neurotic, juvenile and arrogant.

One hopes people like you are a tiny minority.

Re:We're exploring space just fine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45838725)

Earth is 500,000 year over-due for a magnetic pole flip.

1. No it isn't. They're not clockwork.
2. Poles flipping won't physically affect us more than a weaker protection from UV, but no worse than Australia already has today. And a very interesting situation with migratory animals. Various devices might have issues, but seeing as it takes decades or more for the poles to completely change, we'll already have something to replace basic compass functions.

Re:We're exploring space just fine (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 7 months ago | (#45838847)

from right here in our shirtsleeves sitting at a computer desk. I wonder why going up 0.1 Earth radii to stay within the Earth's atmosphere is "exploring space"...

... Earth is 500,000 year over-due for a magnetic pole flip.

...

Overdue?

Sorry, happened today: http://rt.com/news/sun-upside-down-flip-990/ [rt.com]

And look, we are still here. My internet still works.

Oh, happy new years

Re:We're exploring space just fine (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45839143)

You should learn the difference between the sun and the earth. They both have magnetic fields. The sun's flips regularly. The earth's, not so much.

Re:We're exploring space just fine (0)

Nyder (754090) | about 7 months ago | (#45839153)

You should learn the difference between the sun and the earth. They both have magnetic fields. The sun's flips regularly. The earth's, not so much.

fuck, i'm getting schooled by an AC and they are correct.

What a way to start the New Year...

Re:We're exploring space just fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45839613)

Pluto's not a planet because if it were they'd have to admit there was ANOTHER PLANET unnoticed right in your back yard).

It is not a planet for the exact opposite reason. Labeling it as a planet would make it special, and changing that label is admitting that large rocks out there are not special, but a common and much more frequent thing that previously thought.

Re:We're exploring space just fine (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 8 months ago | (#45841251)

It's been over four decades since humans were outside the magnetosphere. That's irresponsible for any sentient race capable of even a modicum of extra-planetary space exploration.

Only if they had the capability to run a long-term self-sustaining off-world colony...which we don't. Having a few people in a tin can who can only deplete their supplies and then wait for death wouldn't be helpful if Chicxulub 2 happens.

Re:We're exploring space just fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45853593)

You're a fucking blowhard.

I wished they would stop calling it super earth (3, Interesting)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 7 months ago | (#45837445)

As soon as it is obvious that a so called super earth is far to close to its sun to be inhabitable they should stop calling it like that.

Re:I wished they would stop calling it super earth (1)

CarlDenny (415322) | about 7 months ago | (#45837615)

Super Earth is just saying "bigger than Earth (but smaller than Neptune.)" They're not implying any sort of habitability.

Re:I wished they would stop calling it super earth (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 7 months ago | (#45837859)

Exactly my point. A misleading name.

Re:I wished they would stop calling it super earth (1)

stackOVFL (1791898) | about 8 months ago | (#45841573)

As soon as it is obvious that a so called super earth is far to close to its sun to be inhabitable they should stop calling it like that.

If they really want to get attention next time they'll call it "Super Earth 2000 Extreme (tm)"

Re:I wished they would stop calling it super earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45842111)

Active Direct Earth X
brought to you by Microsoft

French Fries (3, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | about 7 months ago | (#45837477)

Let's see, wikipedia says it's as hot as an oven, seven times Earth's mass but far less dense; it isn't clear what gravity would be at its surface or even if it has a surface, if it does but it's possible you could put a bucket of corn oil with potatoes sliced into strips in it on the surface and get some pretty good french fries. [slashdot.org]

Of course, 42 light years is a little farther away than Jupiter.

Forty two light years... hmm... Could it be Magrathea?

In reality though (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 7 months ago | (#45837561)

Hubble was looking at a giant mirror held up by the natives on said exoplanet.
They apparently think being discovered once is enough.

HAD clouds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45837653)

It's over 40 ly away. It might not even exist now for all we know.

Re:HAD clouds (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 7 months ago | (#45837951)

40 years really is less than 'no time at all' on astronomical scales...

seriously (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45837655)

Fahrenheit? Seriously? Stop using this shit. Drop yards and miles as well, while You are doing so.

Re:seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45852833)

Fahrenheit? Seriously? Stop using this shit. Drop yards and miles as well, while You are doing so.

The USA will drop English units when the English stop driving on the wrong side of the road.

Clouds that can use the Hubble telescope??? (1)

mikein08 (1722754) | about 7 months ago | (#45837705)

How advanced is that!!

Re:Clouds that can use the Hubble telescope??? (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 7 months ago | (#45837843)

Researches Using Hubble Telescope Confirm Exoplanet Has Clouds

Would have made more sense. There is a dangling something or other in there.

Re:Clouds that can use the Hubble telescope??? (1)

hey! (33014) | about 7 months ago | (#45839239)

Researches Using Hubble Telescope Confirm Exoplanet Has Clouds
  Would have made more sense. There is a dangling something or other in there.

I think this story must be cursed or something.

Anyhow, what we have in the story title is a misplaced modifier. The phrase "Using Hubble Telescope" functions as an adverb modifying the verb "confirm", but the editor has *misplaced* it in such a way that it could easily be misread as an adjective modifying "clouds". Yet while this modifier is misplaced, it is not quite "dangling"; to dangle it must refer to something that isn't in the sentence at all.

Dangling is usually the result of incomplete editing. You might start with "Using the Hubble Telescope, researchers find evidence of clouds on an exoplanet." After editing, you might end up with "Using Hubble Telescope, clouds are discovered on an exoplanet." The latter is a dangling modifier; its target "discovered" has been removed from the sentence, leaving the adverbial phrase "dangling". There is no alternative parsing in which the orphaned modifier makes sense, because what its target simply isn't there.

Re:Clouds that can use the Hubble telescope??? (1)

bbsalem (2784853) | about 8 months ago | (#45849381)

I like, "Researches using Hubble Telescope confirm THAT exoplanet has clouds"

Re:Clouds that can use the Hubble telescope??? (1)

satuon (1822492) | about 7 months ago | (#45837943)

Amazon is not happy to hear that.

Re:Clouds that can use the Hubble telescope??? (1)

Aleph_Zarro (730676) | about 8 months ago | (#45842653)

That's some extremely advanced water vapor there, I'm telling you. Usurping our prized telescope, and now confirmed by researchers. I used to fantasize that clouds looked like aliens... I had no idea they really WERE aliens.

I would much rather hear (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 7 months ago | (#45837759)

Researches confirm exoplanet has telescope.

You FAIl it! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45837897)

Exoplanet Has Clouds Using Hubble Telescope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45839563)

This is the find of the century! Now, how exactly are the clouds using the hubble telescope?

METRIC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45841013)

Attention summary guy: use Celsius or Kelvin. Less than half a billion people use (or care about) Fahrenheit. FFS.

So a pseudo gas-giant has clouds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45841381)

So a pseudo gas-giant has clouds? I mean the thing is massive and borderline between being an Earth-like planet and a gas giant.
  Of course it's going to have clouds. Atmosphere and clouds like Jupiter but hey, it's Earth-like! lol

Explain the usage restrictions on image? (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about 8 months ago | (#45843051)

http://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/pub/66682.php?from=257191 [eurekalert.org] Credit: NASA & ESA, STScI-PRC14-06b Usage Restrictions: News organizations may use this image in connection with reports about exoplanetary research.

WTF? News organisations can, but but bloggers or amateur astronomers can't? Can't use it for reports about other things? It's a shitty low resolution image anyway. Are they scared someone will write an best selling game around it? Usual institutional anti-fair use paranoia off something probably spawned from a public research grant anyway.

Re:Explain the usage restrictions on image? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45845797)

If it is so crappy, why do you care? If you actually cared anyway, you could have gone to the source [hubblesite.org] and gotten higher resolution images (and even allows you to embed them in your own website) and checked out the copyright page [hubblesite.org] and see that such images can be treated as public domain (although they ask that you let them know you are using it voluntarily, but you could legally ignore that). Sounds more like whatever website you looked at for reposts of PR pieces just automatically sticks usage notices on images without checking the details, not some issue with the original institute.
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