Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

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!

Planetary System Similar to Sol

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the new-places-to-go-to-war-against dept.

Space 379

sgtwilko writes "The BBC News site has an article about how astronomers have found several new planets including some that have a similar distribution to our own Solar System. They are finding planetary systems that are more and more like the one in which the Earth resides. It's only a matter of time until the Terrestrial Planet Finder program gets going and finds another Earth." There's another story on space.com. Update: 06/13 21:51 GMT by M : Space News and Wired have stories as well, with spiffy graphics and artists' renderings and so on.

cancel ×

379 comments

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696067)

all your planets are belong to us!

Re:fp (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696119)

you worthless ac. You are needed for taste testing of the Turd Report's stools.

Re:fp (-1)

L0rdkariya (562469) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696124)

Claimed, Tagged, Bound, and gagged for the CLIT. You are a filthy fucking menace, A. Coward.

AC's are ICY HOT STUNTAZ (-1)

k0osh.CEOofCLIT (582286) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696223)

LORD OF THE BLINGS!

updated on 06/08/02

Suckaz suckaz suckaz. We get azked 200 times a day iz we real. We got our music up all ova da net, we got our picturez up (and no it aint computer animated pictures of unreal stuntaz), and people have seen uz in shows. People we have gave 1000's to produce fo us. You gotz mad fake sites with picturez of us altered, but sucka .. we used to da hate. For all da hataz sayin da rims isnt 20's you gotz to be blind. Demz is dubs, I work at a rim shop.. I should know. Everyting you suckaz say juzt makes me laugh cauze you have no clue about deez stuntaz.

bling bling!

Re:fp (-1)

on by (572414) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696226)

Let's hear ir for the CLIT!
Log in, AC git!
Log in now
and I'll tell you how
you can be a hit!

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696262)

The real question here is this:

Will we find a comparable planet to Uranus? [goatse.cx]

First Fucking Shit! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696076)

Googles taken goatse.cx out of the search results! Im not kidding! Search for goatse and its gone!

WOOHOO! (4, Funny)

Bob McCown (8411) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696101)

First we find the big planets

Then we find the small planets

Then we find the ones with intelligent life

Then we communicate

Then...

Alien Pr0n!

Re:WOOHOO! (0)

kb3hag (584560) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696150)

Alien Pr0n? what if the aliens don't have sex? what if they are the kind that divide themselves to create children?
What if they blow up the white house? (Independance day)
what if they are male/female? what next? a virus that says
Click here for Alien Virgans!
anyway, alien porn would only be good if u could have sex with an alien
NO MORE BIRTH CONTROL! humans cant make alieans pregnant! screw them all you want!
interesting hmm?

Re:WOOHOO! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696234)

humans cant make alieans pregnant! screw them all you want!

Actually you can get aliens pregnant, but that doesn't really matter.. I just call INS after I'm done with them.

Re:WOOHOO! (1)

Indras (515472) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696253)

Alien pr0n? [alienporn.com]

Re:WOOHOO! (1, Offtopic)

hij (552932) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696259)

I tried very hard to stay away from the new Star Wars movie but finally couldn't stand it anymore. This new movie had some very enlightening facts about Naboo:
  • A matriarchial society.
  • The people in charge appear to be ageless, teenage sluts.
  • The women are willing to marry even homocidal egomaniacs.
  • The only competition seems to be a bunch of half-witted, very tall lizards.

I for one am glad to see that we are getting closer to being able to reach out to these new and wonderful worlds.

Re:WOOHOO! (5, Funny)

daeley (126313) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696307)

Jack Handey had it right:

"I don't think I'm alone when I say I'd like to see more and more planets fall under the ruthless domination of our solar system."

"Whether they find a life there or not, I think Jupiter should be called an enemy planet."

"I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it."

Re:WOOHOO! (2, Funny)

Ztream (584474) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696382)

That's about time, I've already seen all the pr0n *this* world has to offer.

Re:WOOHOO! (2, Funny)

Dimensio (311070) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696390)

Then we find the ones with intelligent life

I think that the sticking point will be here. I'm not yet convinced that even one such planet exists within the entire universe.

Re:WOOHOO! (2)

sckeener (137243) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696450)

Then...

Alien Pr0n!


Why do I need to find another planet for that? I can think of several people in Texas that could pose for that...

have you checked the newsgroups yet?

Re:WOOHOO! (2, Funny)

EverDense (575518) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696506)

news://alt.binaries.erotica.alien news://alt.binaries.erotica.alien.tentacles news://alt.binaries.erotica.alien.bugeyed news://alt.binaries.erotica.alien.greys news://alt.binaries.erotica.alien.yoda news://alt.binaries.erotica.alien.yoda.sucks

Other Space... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696490)

Where did former DEC tech manual writers go?

Here [google.com] apparently.

Space is big
Space is dark
It's hard to find
A place to park
Burma Shave

-- From Amiga Workbench Lander

Nulunix v1.0.0.0 (-1)

Genghis Troll (158585) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696109)

The mimencoded text below is a compressed ISO image of the first release of the new Linux distribution Nulunix. Nulunix features a cutting-edge package management system, a high performance, closed-source VM, and a ground-breaking new proprietary compression algorithm that offers compression ratios as high as 1,000,000 to 1, the output files of which can be uncompressed by the standard bzip2 utility.

To get started with Nulunix, simply "mimencode -u | bunzip2 - > nulunix-1.0.0.0.ISO" the text below. If working in the console, you may simply paste the encoded text after entering the above command, followed by "ctrl-D". The spaces inserted into the encoded data by slashcode will not affect the integrity of the archive. The uncompressed ISO will require approximately one gigabyte of hard drive space. The ISO should be burned to a 99 minute cdr with "cdrecord". Have fun!

QlpoOTFBWSZTWQ4J4t8BX45AAMAAAAggADCATUZCoCWpCoCX MU FZJlNZDgni3wFfjkAAwAAA
CCAAMIBNRkKgJakKgJcxQVkmU1 kOCeLfAV+OQADAAAAIIAAwgE 1GQqAlqQqAlzFBWSZTWQ4J
4t8BX45AAMAAAAggADCATUZCoC WpCoCXMUFZJlNZDgni3wFfjk AAwAAACCAAMIBNRkKgJakK
gJcxQVkmU1kOCeLfAV+OQADAAA AIIAAwgE1GQqAlqQqAlzFBWS ZTWQ4J4t8BX45AAMAAAAgg
ADCATUZCoCWpCoCXMUFZJlNZDg ni3wFfjkAAwAAACCAAMIBNRk KgJakKgJcxQVkmU1kOCeLf
AV+OQADAAAAIIAAwgE1GQqAlqQ qAlzFBWSZTWQ4J4t8BX45AAM AAAAggADCATUZCoCWpCoCX
MUFZJlNZDgni3wFfjkAAwAAACC AAMIBNRkKgJakKgJcxQVkmU1 kOCeLfAV+OQADAAAAIIAAw
gE1GQqAlqQqAlzFBWSZTWQ4J4t 8BX45AAMAAAAggADCATUZCoC WpCoCXMUFZJlNZDgni3wFf
jkAAwAAACCAAMIBNRkKgJakKgJ cxQVkmU1kOCeLfAV+OQADAAA AIIAAwgE1GQqAlqQqAlzFB
WSZTWQ4J4t8BX45AAMAAAAggAD CATUZCoCWpCoCXMUFZJlNZDg ni3wFfjkAAwAAACCAAMIBN
RkKgJakKgJcxQVkmU1kOCeLfAV +OQADAAAAIIAAwgE1GQqAlqQ qAlzFBWSZTWQ4J4t8BX45A
AMAAAAggADCATUZCoCWpCoCXMU FZJlNZDgni3wFfjkAAwAAACC AAMIBNRkKgJakKgJcxQVkm
U1kOCeLfAV+OQADAAAAIIAAwgE 1GQqAlqQqAlzFBWSZTWQ4J4t 8BX45AAMAAAAggADCATUZC
oCWpCoCXMUFZJlNZDgni3wFfjk AAwAAACCAAMIBNRkKgJakKgJ cxQVkmU1lIfF/JAIpSyADA
AAAEAAggADDMBSmmkSJDYUSJDx dyRThQkPaI5AI=

first post (-1, Offtopic)

chavster77 (303957) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696110)

first post

...long live Nietzsche

Shower Days (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696111)

In the morning I awake
I feel my bladder about to break
Scratch my balls, I rub my eyes
Feeling lousy

My girlfriend tells me that
It's time to take a bath
I say, "No, not today, it's only Tuesday"

Once every 24 hours
I'm supposed to take a shower
That's not the way I do it
Do it, do it

Personal hygiene is the last thing on my mind
I don't want to do it
Do it, do it

It doesn't make a difference to me
Everyday I do the same old thing
So why should I have to be clean?

Those dreaded Wednesdays and Saturdays
Also known as shower days
I hate them

Wouldn't start planning my move yet... (4, Insightful)

bwohlgemuth (182897) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696116)

The system also has a slightly smaller neighbor which whips around every 14.5 days. My guess is the tidal forces of these two planets would eventually rip anything in between to shreds.

Yes, TPF will be a nice box to have. However, I wouldn't plan on the longevity of HST since it will be located at one of the LaGrange points just outside earth orbit.

Brian

Didn't you read the article (5, Informative)

NoBeardPete (459617) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696326)

The astronomers said that an Earthlike planet _could_ survive in an orbit between the two large ones. Given a choice between your guess that it would get ripped to shreds, and the opinions of professional astronomers who've studied this specific solar system, and concluded that an Earthlike planet could be there, I'm going to side with the astronomers.

Re:Didn't you read the article (1)

bwohlgemuth (182897) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696381)

Let's take a look at planetary formation.

Large mass planets evolve by sucking up tons of debris in the stellar disk in their earlier days or by acting like a large vacuum cleaner later on. Either way, a fledgling planet the size of Earth would be bombarded out of existance or have the irregularities of its orbit further enhanced by the ever-swinging lump of planet circling every 14 days.

Could a planet form? Yes. What are the chances of it, not very high. Don't make it the first stop for TPF.

B

Re:Wouldn't start planning my move yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696413)

The system also has a slightly smaller neighbor which whips around every 14.5 days. My guess is the tidal forces of these two planets would eventually rip anything in between to shreds.

Err, no. Venus acts more strongly on Earth than both of the listed twins would combined on an Earth-like planet around 1 AU.

once upon a time on Slashdot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696120)

there was this article about the 'Mass detection' of planets that was magnitudes larger than current theory allowed planets to be. Typical of the current crop of 'Scientists' they chose to fire up their ego and say "This frankly frightens us because now that we know everything there is to know about planetary configurations and this comes along, then it must be some fantastic and massive phenominon"

Some here pointed out how foolish it was to ASSume that anyone knows even the beginnings about planets in the galaxy simply from our very limited scope and time of research into it.

So, with that in mind, I ask... "Is such a mentality prevalent here? Or is this irrational behavior coupled with some neat sounding math equations?" The astronomical community is taking a beating because of stupid people within it, perhaps they are on the way back out of their hole.

Re:once upon a time on Slashdot... (1)

protest_boy (305632) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696188)

Any good scientist would never say they know everything about ANYthing.

42!!! (0, Offtopic)

kormoc (122955) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696126)

Woot! More Giant Computers!

Re:42!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696449)

Wow, some dumbass moderator obviously didn't get the joke....

As it turns out.. (5, Funny)

iforgotmyfirstlogon (468382) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696128)

It is all just a hoax. As it turns out, a group of rival scientists went up into space and just put a REALLLY big mirror up there.

- Freed

Hmm... (3)

Dark Nexus (172808) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696135)

Okay, so the planet 3-3.5 times the size of Jupiter, at NEAR the same orbit as Jupiter....

But that planet right near the star that's just a bit smaller than Jupiter is a BIG difference.

But hey, it's a start, and doesn't mean that there AREN'T planets geologically similar to Earth there.

Guess we might find out soon.

Also on this note... (3, Interesting)

Dark Nexus (172808) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696184)

A quote from the CNN article [cnn.com] (which seems to be a bit more fleshed out) I didn't see in either of the ones listed at the top:

"We haven't found an exact solar system analog, which would have a circular orbit and a mass closer to that of Jupiter. But this shows we are getting close," said Paul Butler, another member of the planet-hunting team.

But the orbit of the Jupiter-like planet is stable enough to foster a benign, life-friendly environment in the inner solar orbit, Fischer said.

Huzzah for space exploration! (1)

electrick (579755) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696138)

I'm still in awe of our ability to see things very far away, but as a huge star trek fan, I am always facinated by the idea of finding life outside our tiny planet.

Perhaps, in a few years, the belief that life exists on other plants wouldn't inspire sceptisim from your peers. Rather, would be doccumented fact. Where was the research when I was getting picked on in grade school? :p

Re:Huzzah for space exploration! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696301)

Where was the research when I was getting picked on in grade school?

Wouldn't have made a difference. Anyone who goes around shouting "huzzah" is going to get picked on in grade school...

Re:Huzzah for space exploration! (1)

electrick (579755) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696321)

Perhaps, if my classmates didn't watch The Simpsons.

Re:Huzzah for space exploration! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696495)

Hey yeah! When I was in grade school I said that computers could think and they laughed me out of class. AI being what it is, I was a pioneer! :D

why so keen on earth-sized? (5, Interesting)

macsox (236590) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696141)

i don't get the thrust of the article focusing on finding earth-sized planets. is there some theory that necessitates a planet be our size to foster life? if so, why?

(here comes the (-1, Ignorant). bring it on.)

Re:why so keen on earth-sized? (1)

damu (575189) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696179)

Theory: Since we only have "strong" "factual" data about this planet therefore we try to relate everything else to what we know. In a large crwod of people it is easier to try to find someone who looks like you, than to try to find someone who you do not know what they look like. dam(did that make sense?

Re:why so keen on earth-sized? (5, Insightful)

Jucius Maximus (229128) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696181)

"i don't get the thrust of the article focusing on finding earth-sized planets. is there some theory that necessitates a planet be our size to foster life? if so, why?"

I'm taking a page from Spock here:

Are we humans so arrogant as to assume that life can only be found on planets that closely resemble our own? Why can't life exist in forms completely unimagined by us on red-hot planets close to suns or enormous gas plants? And if we ever saw that sort of life, would we recognise it even if it was staring us in the face?

Re:why so keen on earth-sized? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696203)

This isn't Star Trek, dipshit.

Re:why so keen on earth-sized? (2)

T3kno (51315) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696271)

Who is to say that this red-hot gas being in not arrogant as well? If they do exist, and if they are looking for other life, they are presumably looking for life that resembles them, this begs the question would they recognize us as life? Or are we just conglomerations of biological processes. The reason that we are arrogant is that we were created in the image of our creator, and we thus have the very notion that all life must resemble the life we see on earth ingrained in our very being. There is in fact life other than ours in the universe, it's just in a different realm, and it does not have our form. There is also a different life available for us to live by, that replaces our own, but that is a different subject all together.

Re:why so keen on earth-sized? (1)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696341)

You mean this Life [regenerated.net] ?

Re:why so keen on earth-sized? (1)

prismatic (301711) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696485)

Hooah!

"and in the fire was what looked like living creatures ... their legs were straight, their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze ... all four of them had faces and wings" (Eze 1:5-8).

"I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly" (John 10:10b).

Human Arrogance (3, Interesting)

hokanomono (530164) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696287)

On the other hand, my uncle said:

The idea that there has to be life somewhere else in the universe too, is just based on the image that life is something superior, something special that the universe was just made for. As if it was not fair that only the earth carries life. If we leave our egocentric view and accept that the universe does not care about life, the belief in extraterrestrial life is absurd.

I completely agree with both, Spock and my uncle.

Re:why so keen on earth-sized? (2, Insightful)

prismatic (301711) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696289)

Actually, that's part of the point. If we don't have a clue what it looks like, we might not recognize it. If we look for what we're familiar with, we're more likely to recognize it.

Just because we're looking for situations similar to ours doesn't mean we'll find it. It also doesn't mean they're *not* looking for different situations (say, Mars or Europa).

Re:why so keen on earth-sized? (2)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696369)

I think that any good scientist (astonomer or not) will admit that life could take on any number of forms. But of all those forms, which ones are we likely to be able to communicate with? That's really the ulitimate goal, isn't it?

-B

Re:why so keen on earth-sized? (1)

Ravagin (100668) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696189)

I'm no expert, but it probably has to do with climate, gravity, avialaibility of certain materials, not being a gas giant, etc.

Re:why so keen on earth-sized? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696190)

Well, I am pretty sure that all of the planets found so far are gas-giants, and obviously the sort of life that we're looking for would not be living there. (although I suppose it is possible that there might be life on a gas giant... but I don't think we would have any way of recognizing it).

One can extrapolate that, since all of the large planets we know of are gas-giants, and all of the mineral-based planets we know of are roughly earth-sized, that mineral-based planets will not get much bigger than earth. (relatively speaking)

Re:why so keen on earth-sized? (1)

Qrlx (258924) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696325)

all of the planets found so far are gas-giants, and obviously the sort of life that we're looking for would not be living there.

"These aren't the life forms you're looking for. There's nothing to see here. Move along."

WTF?? Who is to say that you can't have intelligent life on a gas giant? Dude, we are looking for any kind of life out there, not just the kind about which Eddie Murphy can say "If the bitch is green, there's gotta be something wrong with the pu55y"

Props to all the Star Trek True Believers on this thread. We Are Not Alone, peeps.

Re:why so keen on earth-sized? (1)

MightyPhil (567571) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696214)

It's that whole penis-envy thing, we're tired of finding out that theirs is bigger than ours.

Re:why so keen on earth-sized? (4, Insightful)

bwohlgemuth (182897) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696218)

Easy...the word is gravity.

Smaller planets like Earth with lower gravity wells allow (currently known) life forms to be able to move easily. The best analogy would be the shuttle. Takes a bunch of fuel to move it. If you don't put much cargo it the ship, you need less fuel to take off. However, if you max it out, you not only need fuel to move the bigger mass, but to move the additional fuel as well. Now apply that to animals, either they would be really tiny or really huge.

Now, if you want to get into the realm of life forms that exist either in a gaseous state or as energy, I'll have to refer you to Mr. Bisson's story in Omni from a while ago [electricstory.com] .

B

Re:why so keen on earth-sized? (2)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696257)

I think that planets larger than a certain size can only be gas giant planets. The temperatures and pressures involved would not support life as we imagine it. Only small planets with an orbit very close to ours will have the ground/water/atmosphere setup that could create life that would look like us.

IANAAstronomer

-B

Re:why so keen on earth-sized? (2)

gorilla (36491) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696275)

There are definatly limits in both directions. Our best guesses about what we need for life include liquid water, and available chemicals such oxygen in the atmosphere (Not O2, that is too reactive and can only be sustained in the atmosphere by the continual release by photosythesing life).

A small planet would end up like Mars or Mecury, as the gravity wouldn't be sufficent to prevent the atmosphere escaping. On the other hand, a very large planet would have a very high presure at sea level. As water boils at a higher temperature as pressure increases, the higher the pressure the lower the amount of evaporation, and thus this reduces the water cycle. This means less errosion on the continents, which means less minerals in the water. Of course the really big planets are all gas giants, which are obviously going to be difficult for life to evolve. So definatly we need a planet which isn't 'too big', and isn't 'too small'. What those limits are, we can't really say until we get some evidence.

The magic size for a sane atmosphere. (2)

Christopher Thomas (11717) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696315)

i don't get the thrust of the article focusing on finding earth-sized planets. is there some theory that necessitates a planet be our size to foster life? if so, why?

Planets smaller than Earth will tend to lose their atmospheres over time (e.g. Mars, Mercury).

Planets larger than Earth will tend to have super-thick atmospheres with very hostile environments (e.g. the smaller gas giants, and Venus). Notice Venus in this list - an Earth-sized planet has a gravity well deep enough to hold an inhospitably thick atmosphere. Only some quirks of Earth's formation and evolution (mainly the presence of the moon) give us an atmosphere thin enough to let our type of climate and our type of life exist.

Life could exist deep underground in a much wider range of planets, but this would be microbes and not much else.

Life could potentially exist in oceans under the frozen crust of smaller worlds (e.g. Europa), but would likely be less interesting than life on Earth-like worlds, due to a much smaller energy throughput. These worlds would also have to have a substantial source of heat (either radioactive, like Earth's, or tidal, from being a satellite of a larger planet) to avoid freezing solid. Larger worlds will probably have enough geothermal energy to churn up their oceans, making stable life-bearing layers less likely.

So, Earth-like planets do seem to be the best place to look for non-microbal life :).

Re:why so keen on earth-sized? (2)

bskin (35954) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696424)

Basically...yes, there are theories that say life can only exist in similar conditions to our own. We look for a certain habitable range where life could conceivably exist. Which doesn't mean there couldn't be life on a completely different type of planet, but how would we ever know it's there? We haven't even made it to mars, much less some gas giant in a completely different solar system.

Also keep in mind that according to our planetary creation theories, any planet that large isn't going to be a terrestrial planet. No Rocks, no oceans(unless you count oceans of liquid hydrogen that probably form from the enormous pressure). There's just no way life in any way similar to us could exist in such an environment. Really, right now we're just trying to see if life like us *could* exist elsewhere, not that it actually does.

And also, until we find other terrestrial planets, we have no way of proving that our planetary creation theories hold water. Sure, we think there should be earth-like planets out there, but we just have no proof. These discoveries are very encouraging when you remember that until very recently, we hadn't found *any* other planets out there. The more we learn about other systems, the more we can correct our vision of the universe as a whole.

A slightly more specific answer (2, Interesting)

Salgak1 (20136) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696460)

Finding life, at least the class of things that we'd immediately identify as "life", requires several things: a chemical environment that is reactive, but not TOO reactive: a physical environment that is generally between the freezing and boiling point of the primary working fluid of the life-forms, an energy environment with sufficient energy influx to beat radiation losses, but not so much as to speed up most of the available chemical reactions.

That gives us two things to look for. It tells us how far from a star to look (for the temperature and energy variables), and THAT gives us the likely type of planet to find in that region. From what we know of the physics of planetary formation, those planets would tend to be small and rocky, with the likely working fluid being water.

With a planet with aqueous water, the likely atmosphere would include some oxygen, but too much or too little would tend to work itself out over time (too much, and you tend to support a LOT of combustion, which would take up the excess oxygen. Low oxygen environments are thought to be similar to that in which life developed here on Earth. . . )

In a long and possibly too-technical explanation, that's why we look for "Earth-like" planets when we look for life. . .

May the force be with you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696145)

Maybe one day, ET will phone us?

Only 40 times the size of earth! (3, Interesting)

quantaman (517394) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696147)

They have also found the smallest exoplanet yet. It is only 40 times more massive than Earth.


The size of the planet isn't really the issue though,
Detecting Earth-sized planets is probably not possible using current ground-based techniques. That will have to wait for a new generation of satellite observatories, due in the next decade.

The important part is
Calculations made by Greg Laughlin of the University of California at Santa Cruz show that an Earth-sized planet could survive in a stable orbit between the two gas giants.


This of course doesn't mean that we found anything only that when we are able to look for earth-like planets this is our best bet for hitting the jackpot.

Here's the space.com Article. (2, Interesting)

dlb (17444) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696172)

It's slow and full of pop-up ads..
----

A team of astronomers announced today the discovery of the first planet outside our solar system with an orbit similar to Jupiter's, a configuration that has the potential to support an Earth-like planet.

They also found the least massive world ever detected around another star, a planet just 40 times as heavy as Earth.

The primary discovery is a gas giant planet that circles a star called 55 Cancri every 13 years, comparable to Jupiter's 11.86-year orbit. The planet is between 3.5 and 5 times as heavy as Jupiter.

"It's the first extrasolar planet that reminds us of a planet in our solar system," lead researcher Geoffrey Marcy said in an interview with SPACE.com several days prior to the announcement.

Marcy, of the University of California, Berkeley, said he and colleague Paul Butler, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, have dreamed of this discovery for 17 years as they compiled data using a technique that many scientists said would never work. The two astronomers, whose team has grown in recent years, also announced 11 other worlds today at a press conference at NASA headquarters, bringing the total of known extrasolar planets to 98.

Potential for Earth twin

The new planet orbits 55 Cancri at 5.5 astronomical units (AU). One AU is the distance from Earth to the Sun. Jupiter orbits at 5.2 AU. The same team had already spotted another planet around 55 Cancri, a place slightly less massive than Jupiter. It orbits so close to the star that it makes a complete orbit in just 14.6 days.

Marcy speculated that the two-planet system could harbor more intriguing worlds, possibly even rocky planets like Earth, known as terrestrials.

"A Jupiter at five Earth-Sun distance units might serve as the marquee of a planetary theater located within, where terrestrial bit players are racing around on smaller tracks," Marcy said. "We are left to imagine what geophysical and perhaps biological improvisation is taking place inside this planetary playhouse."

Armed with their new data, Marcy and Butler enlisted theoretician Gregory Laughlin of the University of California, Santa Cruz, to look into whether the 55 Cancri system could also retain an Earth-sized planet in a life-sustaining orbit. Such a region, called a habitable zone, would maintain moderate temperatures suitable to the retention of surface water and the possibility of life.

Laughlin ran the data through computer models of planet formation. The answer is "yes."

"We tried a hypothetical configuration of a terrestrial planet in the habitable zone around one AU from the central star and found it very stable," said Laughlin, who also is associated with Lick Observatory. "Just as the other planets in our solar system tug on the Earth and produce a chaotic but bounded orbit, so the planets around 55 Cancri would push and pull an Earth-like planet in a manner that would not cause any collisions or wild orbital variations."

Marcy and Butler caution, however, that there is no way to detect an Earth-sized planet with present technology. Meanwhile, their data does suggest a third planet in the system, a possible Saturn-sized object. Others could lurk there.

Laurance Doyle, a researcher at the SETI Institute who was not involved in the discovery, told SPACE.com the new finding "is a strong encouragement" that our solar system "may not, after all, be totally unusual."

The Jupiter-like planet has another potential benefit, Doyle points out: Its gravity would lure comets, shielding inner planets from life-threatening bombardment. Jupiter plays this protective role in our solar system.

Pushing the limit

Marcy, Butler and their colleagues also announced today the lightest extrasolar planet ever found, one 40 times as massive as Earth.

This discovery pushes the lower limits of their wobble method, which spots movement in a star induced by the gravity of an orbiting planet. (No confirmed planet outside our solar system has ever actually been photographed.)

This relatively small planet, whose possible presence was first reported in May by SPACE.com, was detected around a star called HD 49674. It is just 15 percent the mass of Jupiter. Theory holds that it would be gaseous, not rocky. Previously, the lightest known extrasolar planet was more than 50 times heavier than Earth.

For comparison, Neptune is about 17 times as massive as Earth and Saturn is about 95 times as heavy.

Marcy has said the wobble method will not be able to find planets weighing less than 10 Earth-masses.

The SETI Institute's Doyle uses a different method for planet hunting, however. He looks for slight dips in a star's light that indicate the passage of a planet. The method has yet to discover a planet, but it has been used to detect the atmosphere of a known extrasolar planet.

This so-called transit method could spot a planet twice as big as Earth, Doyle says, if the planet's path is properly aligned so that it passes in front of the star as seen from Earth.

Such a planet would have roughly eight times the mass of our own. It would still be rocky and could, theoretically, harbor life.

Doyle said the existence of two planets bracketing the habitable zone around 55 Cancri "indicates that planet production may have taken place within the habitable zone of that system."

Next Page: A dream come true, plus what's next

~

Dream come true

The discovery of the Jovian twin caps 17 years of planet hunting by Marcy and Butler, who were not deterred by early skepticism in their technique.

"Way back in 1985, Paul Butler and I began sketching the idea for a new instrument, attached to a telescope, that might someday detect planets around other stars," Marcy told SPACE.com. "Some very smart people told us that we wouldn't succeed, that we would never detect the wobble of a star caused by its attendant planets."

They did, beginning in 1995 just months after a European team found the first planet around a star besides our Sun. Marcy and Butler confirmed that finding and went on to become the world's most prolific planet-hunting team.

"We always dreamed that maybe, with a wisp of phenomenal luck and dogged perseverance, we might capture evidence of a Jupiter-like planet," Marcy said.

Prior to today's announcement, all known extrasolar planets orbited more closely to their host stars, some as close as Mercury is to our Sun.

Because the planet around 55 Cancri takes 13 years to make a complete orbit, it took equally long for enough data to accumulate to definitively identify the object. Its orbit is elongated instead of being nearly circular like Jupiter's. "We haven't yet found an exact solar system analog," Butler said. "But this shows we are getting close."

Other recent discoveries have shown that circular orbits do exist around other stars.

Butler said more Jupiter-like planets will likely flow from the data they are collecting on 1,200 Sun-like stars.

What's next

While Doyle or someone else might find a planet twice the size of Earth, the discovery of a true Earth-sized planet won't come for at least a few years, most researchers agree.

But now there is a perfect place to look.

The 55 Cancri system "will be the best candidate for direct pictures" by a next-generation space-based observatory, said Debra Fischer, a UC Berkeley astronomer who is part of the Marcy-Butler team.

Two such missions are planned by NASA, first the Space Interferometry Mission and then the Terrestrial Planet Finder. The discovery of a solar system with elements similar to our own "adds urgency to missions capable of detecting Earth-sized planets," said Charles Beichman, NASA's Origins Program chief scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

No firm launch dates are set for either of these satellites, however. Both would follow the less ambitious Kepler mission, set to launch in 2007. Kepler will use the transit method to detect and generate a census of Earth-like planets around other stars, assuming such planets exist, but it won't photograph any.

Details of the research

The star 55 Cancri is in the constellation Cancer. It is roughly 41 light-years from Earth and about 4.7 billion years old, comparable to our Sun.

The new discoveries were funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation. Observations of 55 Cancri were made at the Lick Observatory. The Anglo-Australian telescope was used to find two of the other planets announced today.

Other scientists who collaborated in the new findings: Steve Vogt, UC Santa Cruz; Greg Henry, Tennessee State University; Dimitri Pourbaix, Universite' Libre de Bruxelles; Hugh Jones, Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom; Chris Tinney, Anglo-Australian Telescope; Chris McCarthy, Carnegie Institution of Washington; Brad Carter, University of Southern Queensland, Australia; and Alan Penny of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the United Kingdom.

The wobble method, which is so far responsible for all extrasolar planet discoveries, is also known as the Doppler technique. The researchers employ special filters in a telescope to measure a change in the wavelength in light coming from a star. The change results from the star moving toward the telescope and compressing the waves, and then moving away from the telescope and lengthening the waves.

The effect is similar to the change in sound of a siren from an ambulance rushing toward you and then heading away.

Re:Here's the space.com Article. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696309)

It's slow and full of pop-up ads..

Obviously somebody should stop using IE. I haven't seen more than a handful of popups in the last six months.

Closer to home (2, Interesting)

.sig (180877) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696187)

With the money and resources that would be required to move to a new planet in a distant solar system, wouldn't it be far easier and cheaper and quicker to set up a colony on a planet/moon in our own system? They would need some sort of enclosed structure to survive, but could possibly begin terraforming that new world. Given how long it would take to find and inhabit a new earth, we could probably create one here quicker.

As an added bonus, we could send much more people to mars much faster, since in the time it would take to reach even the closest star, let alone one with habitable worlds, we could make many many round-trip voyages to an in-system world. This would certainly help overcrowding here on earth, and also get us started on interplanetary colonization. Once we actually got experience moving to new worlds, each successive one could only get easier, and with people on more than one world, there would most likely be more motivation for development of new technologies to make the trip faster and more efficent, as well as improving communication times.

Maybe it's just me, but I'd rather be on a hostile new world now than a less hostile one in a few million years.

Re:Closer to home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696278)

Yeah but who would want to move? No internet!!!!

Re:Closer to home (2, Insightful)

electrick (579755) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696446)

There was an episode of a canadian radio show called Quirks and Quarks that talked about what would be needed to set up colonies on planets in other solar systems. They spoke of the fact that it wouldn't be the people that embarked on the voyage that would set up the new "earth" but rather, their children or grandchildren.

This would present certin difficulties. For instance, how could one be sure that the children would be able to take over the duities of the parents, let alone want to? Can we be sure the children of extreamly brilliant people would be brilliant themselves? And how could we be sure they wouldn't just flip out and kill each other because of the very closed conditions of the craft?

Perhaps the most interesting point made was the question, how will the children of the origional voyagers cope with life off of the ship? For generations these people would be used to life on the ship, there is doubt that they would be able to function in the "outside world".

As much as I'd love to see humans on planets outside of this solar system, I agree with your veiws on setting up colonies in this system. It is viable in the short term, unlike further voyages that would require many more years of planning.

Reason we can't detect planets the size of earth. (5, Informative)

Ami_Chan (188543) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696195)

The article doesn't give much information about this, so I figured I'd put in my 2 cents from what I learned in astronomy this year:

Currently, they have 2 ways (that I'm familiar with) to find an extra-solar planet. First, they can look for a "wobble" in the path the star takes. This wobble is caused by the gravitational pull of a large planet orbiting the star. Earth is so small that the tiny wobble caused by a planet similar in size would be impossible to view; or at least it would disappear with the systematical error.

The other way I've heard of to find extra-solar planets is similar to an eclipse. When the planet comes between the star and Earth, we can measure the changes in luminosity of the star. Obviously, with planets with small orbits, we can determine how quickly the planet orbits the star because of the pattern in the luminosity. Again, we can't detect earth size planets since earth is just too small.

Re:Reason we can't detect planets the size of eart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696337)

WTF, the article said this exactly. You did read it, didn't you? Or are you just egotistical enough to try tricking people into thinking you have more information than the article gives.

Bah, maybe I'm just being overly critical, but it really bugs me when people don't read the article.

Re:Reason we can't detect planets the size of eart (1)

Ami_Chan (188543) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696409)

Excuse me, but I read the BBC article which only said this:

Detecting Earth-sized planets is probably not possible using current ground-based techniques. That will have to wait for a new generation of satellite observatories, due in the next decade.

The space.com article does give more information.

Re:Reason we can't detect planets the size of eart (2)

BWJones (18351) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696395)

There are other plans to examine the spectral properties of the light as the planets pass in front of their star. Theoretically, one should be able to determine by subtraction what atmospheric properties belong to the planet using this technique.

Re:Reason we can't detect planets the size of eart (0)

spagma (514837) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696419)

It is simple, we just need them damn Vulcans to give us their star charts and we will be all set. While were at it, we should snag their technology as well . . . . . WHAT! What do you mean Star Trek isn't real!?!?!?!?

Re:Reason we can't detect planets the size of eart (2)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696503)

Only works if we're dead on with the plane of the ecliptic. How likely is that, for any given star?

Here's the space.com Article. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696221)

It's slow and full of pop-up ads..
----

A team of astronomers announced today the discovery of the first planet outside our solar system with an orbit similar to Jupiter's, a configuration that has the potential to support an Earth-like planet.

They also found the least massive world ever detected around another star, a planet just 40 times as heavy as Earth.

The primary discovery is a gas giant planet that circles a star called 55 Cancri every 13 years, comparable to Jupiter's 11.86-year orbit. The planet is between 3.5 and 5 times as heavy as Jupiter.

"It's the first extrasolar planet that reminds us of a planet in our solar system," lead researcher Geoffrey Marcy said in an interview with SPACE.com several days prior to the announcement.

Marcy, of the University of California, Berkeley, said he and colleague Paul Butler, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, have dreamed of this discovery for 17 years as they compiled data using a technique that many scientists said would never work. The two astronomers, whose team has grown in recent years, also announced 11 other worlds today at a press conference at NASA headquarters, bringing the total of known extrasolar planets to 98.

Potential for Earth twin

The new planet orbits 55 Cancri at 5.5 astronomical units (AU). One AU is the distance from Earth to the Sun. Jupiter orbits at 5.2 AU. The same team had already spotted another planet around 55 Cancri, a place slightly less massive than Jupiter. It orbits so close to the star that it makes a complete orbit in just 14.6 days.

Marcy speculated that the two-planet system could harbor more intriguing worlds, possibly even rocky planets like Earth, known as terrestrials.

"A Jupiter at five Earth-Sun distance units might serve as the marquee of a planetary theater located within, where terrestrial bit players are racing around on smaller tracks," Marcy said. "We are left to imagine what geophysical and perhaps biological improvisation is taking place inside this planetary playhouse."

Armed with their new data, Marcy and Butler enlisted theoretician Gregory Laughlin of the University of California, Santa Cruz, to look into whether the 55 Cancri system could also retain an Earth-sized planet in a life-sustaining orbit. Such a region, called a habitable zone, would maintain moderate temperatures suitable to the retention of surface water and the possibility of life.

Laughlin ran the data through computer models of planet formation. The answer is "yes."

"We tried a hypothetical configuration of a terrestrial planet in the habitable zone around one AU from the central star and found it very stable," said Laughlin, who also is associated with Lick Observatory. "Just as the other planets in our solar system tug on the Earth and produce a chaotic but bounded orbit, so the planets around 55 Cancri would push and pull an Earth-like planet in a manner that would not cause any collisions or wild orbital variations."

Marcy and Butler caution, however, that there is no way to detect an Earth-sized planet with present technology. Meanwhile, their data does suggest a third planet in the system, a possible Saturn-sized object. Others could lurk there.

Laurance Doyle, a researcher at the SETI Institute who was not involved in the discovery, told SPACE.com the new finding "is a strong encouragement" that our solar system "may not, after all, be totally unusual."

The Jupiter-like planet has another potential benefit, Doyle points out: Its gravity would lure comets, shielding inner planets from life-threatening bombardment. Jupiter plays this protective role in our solar system.

Pushing the limit

Marcy, Butler and their colleagues also announced today the lightest extrasolar planet ever found, one 40 times as massive as Earth.

This discovery pushes the lower limits of their wobble method, which spots movement in a star induced by the gravity of an orbiting planet. (No confirmed planet outside our solar system has ever actually been photographed.)

This relatively small planet, whose possible presence was first reported in May by SPACE.com, was detected around a star called HD 49674. It is just 15 percent the mass of Jupiter. Theory holds that it would be gaseous, not rocky. Previously, the lightest known extrasolar planet was more than 50 times heavier than Earth.

For comparison, Neptune is about 17 times as massive as Earth and Saturn is about 95 times as heavy.

Marcy has said the wobble method will not be able to find planets weighing less than 10 Earth-masses.

The SETI Institute's Doyle uses a different method for planet hunting, however. He looks for slight dips in a star's light that indicate the passage of a planet. The method has yet to discover a planet, but it has been used to detect the atmosphere of a known extrasolar planet.

This so-called transit method could spot a planet twice as big as Earth, Doyle says, if the planet's path is properly aligned so that it passes in front of the star as seen from Earth.

Such a planet would have roughly eight times the mass of our own. It would still be rocky and could, theoretically, harbor life.

Doyle said the existence of two planets bracketing the habitable zone around 55 Cancri "indicates that planet production may have taken place within the habitable zone of that system."

Next Page: A dream come true, plus what's next

~

Dream come true

The discovery of the Jovian twin caps 17 years of planet hunting by Marcy and Butler, who were not deterred by early skepticism in their technique.

"Way back in 1985, Paul Butler and I began sketching the idea for a new instrument, attached to a telescope, that might someday detect planets around other stars," Marcy told SPACE.com. "Some very smart people told us that we wouldn't succeed, that we would never detect the wobble of a star caused by its attendant planets."

They did, beginning in 1995 just months after a European team found the first planet around a star besides our Sun. Marcy and Butler confirmed that finding and went on to become the world's most prolific planet-hunting team.

"We always dreamed that maybe, with a wisp of phenomenal luck and dogged perseverance, we might capture evidence of a Jupiter-like planet," Marcy said.

Prior to today's announcement, all known extrasolar planets orbited more closely to their host stars, some as close as Mercury is to our Sun.

Because the planet around 55 Cancri takes 13 years to make a complete orbit, it took equally long for enough data to accumulate to definitively identify the object. Its orbit is elongated instead of being nearly circular like Jupiter's. "We haven't yet found an exact solar system analog," Butler said. "But this shows we are getting close."

Other recent discoveries have shown that circular orbits do exist around other stars.

Butler said more Jupiter-like planets will likely flow from the data they are collecting on 1,200 Sun-like stars.

What's next

While Doyle or someone else might find a planet twice the size of Earth, the discovery of a true Earth-sized planet won't come for at least a few years, most researchers agree.

But now there is a perfect place to look.

The 55 Cancri system "will be the best candidate for direct pictures" by a next-generation space-based observatory, said Debra Fischer, a UC Berkeley astronomer who is part of the Marcy-Butler team.

Two such missions are planned by NASA, first the Space Interferometry Mission and then the Terrestrial Planet Finder. The discovery of a solar system with elements similar to our own "adds urgency to missions capable of detecting Earth-sized planets," said Charles Beichman, NASA's Origins Program chief scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

No firm launch dates are set for either of these satellites, however. Both would follow the less ambitious Kepler mission, set to launch in 2007. Kepler will use the transit method to detect and generate a census of Earth-like planets around other stars, assuming such planets exist, but it won't photograph any.

Details of the research

The star 55 Cancri is in the constellation Cancer. It is roughly 41 light-years from Earth and about 4.7 billion years old, comparable to our Sun.

The new discoveries were funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation. Observations of 55 Cancri were made at the Lick Observatory. The Anglo-Australian telescope was used to find two of the other planets announced today.

Other scientists who collaborated in the new findings: Steve Vogt, UC Santa Cruz; Greg Henry, Tennessee State University; Dimitri Pourbaix, Universite' Libre de Bruxelles; Hugh Jones, Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom; Chris Tinney, Anglo-Australian Telescope; Chris McCarthy, Carnegie Institution of Washington; Brad Carter, University of Southern Queensland, Australia; and Alan Penny of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the United Kingdom.

The wobble method, which is so far responsible for all extrasolar planet discoveries, is also known as the Doppler technique. The researchers employ special filters in a telescope to measure a change in the wavelength in light coming from a star. The change results from the star moving toward the telescope and compressing the waves, and then moving away from the telescope and lengthening the waves.

The effect is similar to the change in sound of a siren from an ambulance rushing toward you and then heading away.

The infinity of the universe (1)

dlur (518696) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696224)

All we can hope for is that eventually they'll come across a planet in a solar system similar to ours somewhere out there in the infinate reaches of the universe that is identical in every way to ours, except that there'd be no Hitler, no Stalan, and no Barney.

If the universe truly is infinite, then it's only a matter of finite time before something like this is found. And without the need for parallel universes!

Re:The infinity of the universe (1)

aiabx (36440) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696279)

Sadly enough, the universe is not infinite. Since it is expanding, and since we know the approximate age of the universe, we can put pretty good bounds on its size.
There is also no reason to believe that given an infinite universe, we would find an earth without Barney. No matter how many times I roll two dice, I will never roll a 13, and it may be that no matter how many planets there are, you never get one that has intelligent life but no Barney. Barney may be an inevitable product of intelligent life. With a sample size of 1, you just can't tell.
-aiabx

Re:The infinity of the universe (1)

dlur (518696) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696421)

There is also no reason to believe that given an infinite universe, we would find an earth without Barney. No matter how many times I roll two dice, I will never roll a 13, and it may be that no matter how many planets there are, you never get one that has intelligent life but no Barney. Barney may be an inevitable product of intelligent life. With a sample size of 1, you just can't tell.

Damn, I guess I'll have to keep working on my time machine so that I can go back in time and smite Barney's creator!

its huge (2)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696225)

The problem is that these are gas giants, like Jupiter or larger and we do not at this time have the tech to discover anything else.

Imagine This... (0)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696237)

Calculations made by Greg Laughlin of the University of California at Santa Cruz show that an Earth-sized planet could survive in a stable orbit between the two gas giants.
Imagine a Beowulf Cluster [ucsc.edu] at work!

Planet only 40 times more massive than earth... orbiting at 1/20th the radius of Earth's orbit... I imagine lying on my back, getting a brief and fatal sunburn... It's ok, though, because the gravity has already stopped all respiration, etc.

Re:Imagine This... (1)

mister_sparkle (545102) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696407)

+50 FOR MENTIONING A BEOWULF CLUSTER! All /. threads must have mention of a Beowulf cluster somewhere in the story. Congrats.

First Sunglasses Emote (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696245)

(H).
Sunglasses Emote.
You know how we do... coast to coast (H).
How do you like the DIPLOMA!

Well... It'll just have to go. (5, Funny)

Rothfuss (47480) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696255)

Start building the fleet!

I recommend employing shiny white robots as our attack force.

-Rothfuss

Sci-Fi comes true??? (1)

sheepab (461960) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696297)

Maybe we really will travel thousands of billions of miles away to 'Earth2' only to be stranded, live with 'terrestrials', and idiots that want to petrify the land for them selves. On the upside we'll have one really hot doctor ;-)

Re:Sci-Fi comes true??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696510)

Yeah, but she's got a gimpy little kid. I mean, single moms kinda piss me off. Obviously thier easy (they already got knocked up once) but on the other hand, sometimes you're hittin' that poon when the kid starts screaming from the other room about a glass of water or something and she has to get up when I'm just about to cream her.

Miri (1)

samf (18149) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696302)

It's only a matter of time until the Terrestrial Planet Finder program gets going and finds another Earth.

Yeah, but the problem is that it will be populated with grups and onlies.

- Sam

First of a long string of findings... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696308)

...of this class of system. Scientists will eventually call them "The Sooooooooooool Train."

Great! (2, Funny)

Procrasturbator (585082) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696324)

Soon, environmentalists won't be able to tell us not to pour motor oil down the sink because "It's the only planet we have".

Maybe it's not another system... (0)

Dimensio (311070) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696343)

...maybe it's a big mirror in space. Or maybe the universe is much smaller than we previously thought and we're observing ourselves via the curvature of space.

Hey, someone has to come up with these crackpot ideas!

Beowulf (-1)

Cryptopotamus (460702) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696365)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of these.

what is it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696368)

that inspires us into researching space as opposed to the oceans of earth. when be land a man on the bottom of the deepest sea floor. not that space isnt cool and all, its just that we kinda live here, ya know, on earth, and id figure that we'd learn a little more about it before moving on.

Can they all get along? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696374)

Pluralists would have us to believe that Christianity is just as good as Islam, but I'm here to tell you, sisters and brothers, that Christianity is not just as good as Islam ...Christianity was founded by Jehovah, a demon-possessed incestuous pedophile who had 1 wife -- and she was his 13-year-old mother! And I will tell you Jehovah is not Allah either. Allah's not going to turn you into a terrorist nation that'll try to bomb people for their oil and drop atomic bombs on surrendering nations and take the lives of thousands and thousands of non-Christian people at the whim of your multinational corporations.

Hi, just wanted to pop in and say... (-1)

YourMissionForToday (556292) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696389)

<TT>I REALLY LIKE TO LOOK AT PORN.<BR>I CAN'T HOLD A JOB AND MY WIFE<BR>JUST LEFT ME TO LIVE WITH HER MOTHER.<BR>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;___<BR>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;.'&nbsp; &nbsp;`'.<BR>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; /&nbsp; &nbsp;_&nbsp; &nbsp;_|<BR>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;l&nbsp; &nbsp; a&nbsp; &nbsp;a| <BR>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;(,&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; \ |&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;.----.<BR>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; l&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;-' |&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; /|&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;'--.<BR>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;\&nbsp; &nbsp;'=&nbsp; l&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; ||&nbsp; &nbsp; ]|&nbsp; &nbsp;`-. "YOU'VE GOT PORN!LOL!!!LOL!!"<BR>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;l`-.__.'&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;||&nbsp; &nbsp; ]|&nbsp; &nbsp; ::|&nbsp; &nbsp;/<BR>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;.-'`-.__ l__&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;||&nbsp; &nbsp; ]|&nbsp; &nbsp; ::|_/<BR>&nbsp; &nbsp; l&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; ``&nbsp; `.&nbsp; &nbsp;||&nbsp; &nbsp; ]|&nbsp; &nbsp; ::|<BR>&nbsp; &nbsp;l&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;l&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;l&nbsp; l&nbsp; &nbsp;\|&nbsp; &nbsp; ]|&nbsp; &nbsp;.-'<BR>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; l&nbsp; &nbsp; l&nbsp; &nbsp;l&nbsp; &nbsp;L.__&nbsp; .--'(<BR>&nbsp; ll&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; `.&nbsp; l&nbsp; &nbsp; l&nbsp; ,--|_&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; \<BR>&nbsp; l '.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; '.ll&nbsp; &nbsp; ll .-._|=-&nbsp; &nbsp; |_<BR>&nbsp; l&nbsp; &nbsp;'.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; '.'. l`l/ .'&nbsp; packard '.<BR>&nbsp; l&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;`'l&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;`;-:-;`|&nbsp; &nbsp; bell&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;|<BR>AOL!!! LOLOL<BR>SO EASY TO USE, SPAM, LOOK AT PORN <BR>TRADE WAREZ, DOWNLOAD BRITNEY SPEARS<BR>CHAT WITH UNDERAGE GIRLS, LOOK AT MORE PORN<BR>NO WONDER IT'S NUMBER 1!!!LOL!!!<BR><BR>Important Stuff:<BR>Please try to keep posts on topic.<BR><BR>Try to reply to other people comments instead of starting new threads.<BR><BR>Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating<BR>&nbsp; what has already been said.<BR><BR>Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about.<BR><BR>Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be<BR>&nbsp; moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your<BR>&nbsp; threshold on the User Preferences Page)<BR>Problems regarding accounts or comment posting should be sent to<BR> CowboyNeal.<BR><BR>Important Stuff:<BR>Please try to keep posts on topic.<BR><BR>Try to reply to other people comments instead of starting new threads.<BR><BR>Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating<BR>&nbsp; what has already been said.<BR><BR>Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about.<BR><BR>Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be<BR>&nbsp; moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your<BR>&nbsp; threshold on the User Preferences Page)<BR>Problems regarding accounts or comment posting should be sent to<BR> CowboyNeal.</TT><BR>--<BR><BR >
<BR>

Don't forget good ol' Fire (1)

EvilBastard (77954) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696437)

One of the essential things for any materials-based culture is the ability to harness and control a simple energy source. Here on Earth, that's fire. For other environments, be it Gas Giant life or Underwater life, for it to advance past a certain point it needs these energy sources in great number.

This is not to say there is a X-Life out there that uses some tech that never needed this bootstrap, but if it's that radically different to Earth, how do you look for it ?

another Earth?? (1, Flamebait)

Kargan (250092) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696451)

///It's only a matter of time until the Terrestrial Planet Finder program gets going and finds another Earth.///

That will never, ever, ever happen. The odds against there being another planet with the delicate ecosystem of Earth is simply incalculable, literally.

The place we live is unique among all other planets in the universe, it's time to accept that.

Really ? (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696488)

Odds are, there's more than one Earthlike planet out there. The question we DON'T have an answer to, yet, is how likely ARE Earthlike planets. . .and the followup, how likely are Earthlike planets to evolve life-forms. . . .

Mind you, good answers to both questions are a long time coming, as we have the empirical evidence from only ONE solar system to base our estimates on. . .

The planet, (2)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696458)

which scientists are calling "third earth," is easily recognizable by a search-light cat head projected against its atmosphere from within. The new evidence irritates radio astronomers, who had initially written off the find as a hoax when the only signal they received was some guy yelling "Ho!"

BUG-SPLAT! (-1, Troll)

BUG-SPLAT! (579472) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696466)

Ooooo, more beeg calcyoolashuns dun by beeg braines hoomans. More plannits find they. Other plannits maybee peace liv inhabitints there. Other plannits maybee not destroyee all for sake of munnee, greeede, power, they.

Not so, probablee. Same sitchyooashun as earth plannit, probablee. More beeg braine inhabitants = more dum calcyoolashuns = more beeg weppuns = more munnee = more greede = take all hooman = not peace plannit. On sutch plannit, guarintee bug armee just like earth bug armee. Maybee other plannit bug armee more powerful! Have more legs they! Have more antennules they! Have beeeger suckeng mouth parts they! HA HA hooman!

Smallest babee bugg on day hatch egg sak, smarter than hooman beeg braines. Onlee centrill nerve ganglia but smarter.

So tired of all hoomans bug. So tired of hoomans, plannit earth. Poor plannit earth. Cry for earth all bug and friend bug creetures. Cant waite for beeg battle day when die all hoomans. Find more plannits beeg braines, more plannits calcyoolashuns not help hooman.

BUG-SPLAT! @-@

So, assuming we find an Earth-type planet... (1)

feloneous cat (564318) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696474)

We should then be told by the Galactic Community that we can't leave this planet until we clean it up. And that DOESN'T mean shoving everything into the closet (I tried it with Mom and it doesn't work).

Progress? (1)

Ashtangi (583372) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696481)

"We haven't yet found an exact solar system analog, which would have a circular orbit and a mass closer to that of Jupiter. But this shows we are getting close," says Butler.

This statement sounds like an assumption of a progression. IE, since we've found one that is close to some attractive specifications, we are soon going to find one more exactly meeting those specifications. As I understand it, the logic of this is quite elusive. Just because I went fishing and caught a large fish does not mean that I will catch an even bigger fish.

What we are doing is getting better and better looks at what is out there. This does not imply that we will eventually find another Earth. While the probability of there being other Earth like planets out there is quite high (potentially), the likelihood of us finding them, let alone communicating with them or visiting them, is very low given our current knowledge of the universe and physics. Of course, tomorrow someone may discover a way to travel vast distances in space and time in the blink of an eye, and thereby making it very likely.

It's good to know what is out there though, regardless of being able to interact or not, as it will get humanity looking outward and may lead to a peaceful and unified Earth.

Extrasolar Planets Encylopedia (2)

anzha (138288) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696494)

You might want to look at Jean Schneider's Extrasolar Planetary Encylopedia [obspm.fr] for a lot more information, including accurate information that hasn't been put through the popular press. :D

After all, we ALL know how precise the media is, right?

55 Canri, btw, has been on the extrasolar planetary astronomy watch list for some time. Read the paper references at Jean's site. I wondered why it looked so familiar...

Place your bets, please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3696499)

5-1 odds: We meet aliens with an excess of genetalia, and they trade with us for a bit. We then piss off some ancient race and get our arses kicked good.

10-1 odds: Microsoft beats the current legal problems and eventually comes to enslave us all. A few centuries later, we lead a jihad against them and free ourselves from horrible thinking machines.

100-1 odds: We find out that some guy's been creeping around for centuries. He founds an Imperium of Man, and millions of geeks sign up for genetic engineering and free extra organs. Double your money if some guy named Horus splits the Empire.
1000-1 odds: The UN survives to rule over the Earth for centuries to come. Some French guy with an English accent goes on to kick ass in the name of peace.

What do Christians think about this? (3, Interesting)

Loundry (4143) | more than 12 years ago | (#3696502)

This is not a troll -- I'm genuinely very curious.

What do Christians think about stories like this? I ask becuase, in discussions with Christians, I've heard Christians tell me that there is no intelligent life on other planets. This was usually in response to my questions like, "Did Jesus die for aliens on other planets?" Perhaps a silly question for me to ask, but the "There is no intelligent life on other planets" was not an uncommon belief among the Christians I've met.

So I've often wondered what Christians (particularly Christian nerds, who are probably significantly more friendly to science than some of the Christians I've met) think when stories like thit surface and hint at the possibility of finding other "Earth-like" planets that may have intelligent life on them.

Thoughts?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

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>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...