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Water Found in Exoplanet's Atmosphere

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the so-close dept.

Space 185

anthemaniac writes "Astronomers have long suspected that water should exist in the atmospheres of extrasolar planets. Now they have evidence. Water has been discovered in a planet called HD209458b, which was previously found to have oxygen. From the article: 'The discovery ... means one of the most crucial elements for life as we know it can exist around planets orbiting other stars.' But don't go looking for little green men. You might remember HD209458b as a 'hot Jupiter' that boils under the glow of its very nearby star."

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Straw poll: (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18680301)

This discovery only reinforces the possibility of life outside our solar system; we've only discovered a few extra-solar planets, and at least one among those we've seen has life. So:

How many people now think that ETs of some form do exist?

Re:Straw poll: (2, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680431)

This discovery only reinforces the possibility of life outside our solar system; we've only discovered a few extra-solar planets, and at least one among those we've seen has life. So:

How many people now think that ETs of some form do exist?


It's a big universe. Chances are very good that other life of some sort exists. However, we have found no evidence of life yet, despite the presence of oxygen which would usually be considered a strong indicator of the presence of life.

"Despite the oxygen, the faraway planet is not one that would support life. [space.com] " -- www.space.com

Re:Straw poll: (4, Insightful)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680765)

Actually, in areas of greater pressure (deeper under the clouds), there is still the possibility of life I would say.

Another thing is, we often make the following assumptions in terms of life forms, and we can be ceratain of none of them:

1) requirements of Carbon and Oxygen
-- Sulphur, Silicon, and any far-left or far-right non-noble element can handle the requirements here (namely something that can form long complex structures, and something highly reactive that nonetheless has stable compounds wherein it exists)
2) The life will be based on nucleic acids (RNA/DNA) and amino acids (proteins)
-- While these are more simple structures that could perform their tasks while remaining stable, there are other structures that could potentially store data and perform structural/chemical tasks.

Re:Straw poll: (4, Interesting)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681007)

I think that most scientists are aware of that and what they're actually getting at are planets that could support life similar to our own. Life that we could recognize and interact with, perhaps even coexist with in some unknown future. There are many unproven forms that life can exist in, however we probably wouldn't recognize them if we saw them so we naturally stick with what we know.

Re:Straw poll: (4, Funny)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681189)

Besides, whats the use of finding a space buffalo if we can't kill it, eat it's flesh, wear it's skin, and turn the land it used to live on into farmland?

Re:Straw poll: (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682191)

Don't forget that we have to subjugate some natives.

Re:Straw poll: (1)

zenkonami (971656) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682267)

Which is unfortunate, really. Sure, it's easier to keep an eye out for what we know, but I think it's important to consider how faulty many of our ideas about life, and particularly intelligent life may be. Assumptions like:

* Intelligent life wants to talk to us
* Intelligent life has the capability to talk to us
* Intelligent life has similar desires and ambitions as we do (or desires and ambitions at all)
* Intelligent life is necessarily spacefaring

Granted, we get caught in the trap of how we define intelligent life, but there could be many drastically different, unimagined yet intelligent beings out there that are nothing at all like us.

Despite our somewhat clumsy (but nevertheless impressive) grasp on technology in what seems a very short space of time, other lifeforms may fit entirely different criteria that we would still classify intelligent.

Re:Straw poll: (2, Insightful)

arktemplar (1060050) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681423)

In Cosmos, Carl Sagan has described such beings(hypothetical beings - if you want to nitpick), consider them to be similar to large gas bags, that feed on carbon matter in the atmosphere. If you consider it that flying whales post might actually describe them pretty well also - Such creatures were used by Arthur C. Clarke in one of his oddesy series books (forget which one), he even described a predator of sorts for them, interestingly for another descrpition (although not at all based on science or facts ) there is a similar set of creatures in Dan Dare (Yes, the same Dan Dare where venusians were large green things, and you could breathe on Venus)

Re:Straw poll: (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682079)

The Slylandro in Star Control II were like that as well -- a sentient gas giant species. They developed their intelligence not from toolmaking but from cooperative hunting, chasing small organisms into storm vortices much in the same way that whales use bubbles to trap krill into a bait ball. The more intelligent, cooperative Slylandro were able to thrive in more inhospitable areas and capture more elusive prey. However, after reaching sentience, their culture stagnated. Having no ability to make tools, they had remained confined to their planet and relatively unchanged as a species for millions of years before your character meets them.

Re:Straw poll: (3, Interesting)

LotsOfPhil (982823) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682161)

(warning, I use chemical symbols. You might want a periodic table).
I agree with you that there could well be life that is vastly different than what we are used to.

Another thing is, we often make the following assumptions in terms of life forms, and we can be ceratain of none of them:
1) requirements of Carbon and Oxygen
-- Sulphur, Silicon, and any far-left or far-right non-noble element can handle the requirements here (namely something that can form long complex structures, and something highly reactive that nonetheless has stable compounds wherein it exists)

But this doesn't make sense to me. When you say far-left and far-right, I assume you mean the periodic table. That means you are talking about Cl, Br, Na, K, etc. That doesn't make sense (they tend to only make 1 bond), so I figure you are talking about the p-block.
That means you are talking about B, F, C, Si, Cl and Br. What is special about carbon is that it forms 4 bonds. So, this means you are just talking about carbon and silicon. Let's throw out anything heavier (Ge, Sn) because they aren't that abundant.
Sure, there could be something based on silicon but... Look at CO2 (a gas) and SiO2 (silica, a solid). Carbon just seems like the best candidate for life to be based on. Nitrogen (or P) and boron (or Al) seem to be the best other candidates.

Number of planets so far? (1)

Plekto (1018050) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682239)

I read somewhere that they are closing on 200 found so far, which is pretty remarkable. I suspect they'll send a probe to one within our lifetimes(though getting data back... yeah, slightly longer - maybe our great grandchildren)

Re:Straw poll: (2, Interesting)

mattatwork (988481) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680777)

There is a good chance, but it would most likely be microbial life (ie bacteria)...not something exciting like little green men. Bacteria can grow in soil, acidic hot springs, radioactive waste and in extreme cold condiations (ie space)...

Re:Straw poll: (2, Interesting)

insanius (1058584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680895)

anyone who doubts that there is ET life is either extremely ignorant or just a fool. seriously, i don't even see how in this day in age that there is even a debate about 'if?'. the real questions are 'what kind?', 'where?', 'how "intelligent"?'. we've known for some time now that new elements get created with every star and spread with their explosions and comets carry the ingredients for life light years way. Comets are intergalactic sperm, planets/moons are the eggs. In my mind it couldn't be more obvious.

Re:Straw poll: (-1, Troll)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681259)

anyone who doubts that there is ET life is either extremely ignorant or just a fool. seriously, i don't even see how in this day in age that there is even a debate about 'if?'.

It's quite simple: there's nothing in the Bible which tells of other planets, and the Bible is the authority on the creation of the universe. Therefore, there can't be life on other planets. This is why there's a debate.

As for the debaters on that side, look back at your first sentence I quoted here, and remember there's a LOT of people around that fit that description. About half the US population in fact.

Re:Straw poll: (3, Insightful)

KingKiki217 (979050) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681719)

I'm a Christian, and I find your argument ad hominem, off topic, and ignorant at best. If you aren't trolling, please keep in mind that a belief in a God, although shared by crazies and extremists, does not make one any less intellectually capable, any more than being a vegetarian makes a person evil because Hitler was one.

Re:Straw poll: (3, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682115)

Maybe you should redirect your anger to all your fellow Christians who believe exactly as I said in my post. I'm just posting on my observations on the great majority of Christians in this country and how they behave.

Your Hitler comparison is flawed. Hitler was only one person, and most vegetarians are nothing like Hitler. However, a majority of Christians (at least in the USA; my apologies if you live somewhere else where Christians are not fundamentalist) do believe the earth is 6000 years old, that evolution is false, that Creationism should be taught in public schools, etc. So if you're one of the rare minority that doesn't believe this way, and doesn't try to push these beliefs on everyone else, then that's great. But you have to acknowledge that most of your co-believers are like this this.

Re:Straw poll: (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682319)

I'm just posting on my observations on the great majority of Christians in this country and how they behave.
You've actually observed tens of millions of people? Most Christians in the United States, just like most people of any other group, would rather just live their lives and be left alone. The problem is that it's usually the crazy ones that get media time. For every right-wing religious nutjob you see on television, there are probably thousands of Christians that will agree with you that the person is a nutjob.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not Christian.

Re:Straw poll: (1)

Derosian (943622) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681897)

I'm surprised you failed to mention the Fermi Paradox. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Straw poll: (1)

trianglman (1024223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681273)

Comets, in general are not interstellar bodies, much less intergalactic. Is it probable that a comet deposited the necessary elements on Earth for life? Yes, but those comets were created during the creation of our solar system; they didn't come from Alpha Centauri, etc. I also believe, just on odds, that there is other, probably intelligent, life in the universe and your questions are more accurate than "If"

Re:Straw poll: (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681555)

> Chances are very good that other life of some sort exists.

On what basis are you saying this? It doesn't simply follow from the universe being big if the chances of life appearing at any given location is small enough. How do you know that this isn't the case?

Re:Straw poll: (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18680433)

I've watched the astronomical community (from both the inside and as a layperson) go from not knowing for sure whether there were planets outside of the solar system to being able to routinely detect exo-planets with off-the-self equipment [www.ursa.fi] within 10 years.

I can't help but wonder how long it'll take till we have the same leap for detecting life once we know exactly what we're looking for. I'm hoping it'll be sooner rather than later.

Read this book: Rare Earth (4, Interesting)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680547)

There is a great book that anyone interested in this question should read: Rare Earth [amazon.com] .

It is a very well-researched book that goes into great detail on all the different terms of the drake equation (and a few extra terms) and shows what the best scientific evidence suggests are the actual values for those terms. The bottom line of the book is that single-celled life is probably incredibly common, it's probably everywhere. Life that's big enough for you to actually see is probably pretty rare. Intelligent life is very rare, and technological civilizations are practically a miracle.

Re:Read this book: Rare Earth (2, Insightful)

Lane.exe (672783) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680727)

Of course, given the size and age of the universe, the emergence of technological civilizations can still be both miraculous and "common" by our own finite, everyday standards.

Re:Read this book: Rare Earth (2, Interesting)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681067)

civilizations can still be both miraculous and "common"
Wait. Isn't "common" usually defined in terms of a ratio? dictionary.com definition 4 says: widespread; general; ordinary

So by that definition, even if there are billions of civilizations, if the ratio is 1/10000000000000 then I don't think you can call it common.

Anyway, the grandparent post asked, "who believes in ET" and I think that a scientific answer: ET is out there, but maybe not even in our galaxy. So we are very very unlikely to ever find any life that we can talk to. The question that people want to know the answer to is, is our universe like the one on Star Trek, with aliens everywhere. I think that the answer is no.

Perhaps (2, Insightful)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681591)

Perhaps we're the fortunate "Ancients" or "Progenitor" race should we ever start traveling the stars?

Re:Perhaps (4, Funny)

Viper Daimao (911947) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681713)

and if we're unfortunate it will be the Shadows and Goa'uld.

Re:Perhaps (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681931)

Remind me again, who are the Shadows? (It's been a while, and the reference is weak due to all the watering down of "shadows" in other stories)

Re:Perhaps (1)

Viper Daimao (911947) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682117)

No problem, it's a pretty ambiguous word, Shadows [wikipedia.org]

Re:Perhaps (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682149)

Or we could be that "evil conquering alien race" that is so commonly depicted in sci-fi. Guess I should practice saying, "SILENCE BLATHERING TOADIES! We are your new masters now!"

Could have its advantages [daughtersoftiresias.org] .

Re:Read this book: Rare Earth (4, Funny)

Anonymous Custard (587661) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681701)

So we are very very unlikely to ever find any life that we can talk to.

Kind of like on slashdot.

kind of like slashdot? (1)

MollyB (162595) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682041)

You must be one of those Turing Machines I've heard of... nobody else here but us chickens! 8^)

Re:Read this book: Rare Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18681261)

Intelligent life is very rare, and technological civilizations are practically a miracle.

Yes, but given the sheer size of the universe, even incredibly rare things are extremely likely to occur more than once. So even if the book's guess is accurate, the answer to the OP's question, "How many people now think that ETs of some form do exist?" is "almost certainly". Of course, finding them is an entirely different matter...

No don't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18681571)

it's overrated and incredibly dull. The summary you just gave is as much as you need to know about it.

Re:No don't (1)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681721)

it's overrated and incredibly dull.
well then you're not an astronomy geek - and that's cool. Me, I loved the in-depth discussions of things like a star's habitability zone. If you're content to learn about this stuff from dumbed-down TV documentaries narrated by Patrick Stewart, then good for you. If you want more detail, then you want a book, and this is a good one.

Re:Straw poll: (1)

jelton (513109) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681543)

"...we've only discovered a few extra-solar planets, and at least one among those we've seen has life."

I'm sorry, did I miss something? Mankind has found an extra-solar planet with evidence of life? I must have missed the headlines.

Do your research... (4, Funny)

otacon (445694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680311)

I live on HD209458b you insensitive clod.

Re:Do your research... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680359)

I live on HD209458b you insensitive clod.

Man, you must have some serious lag times.

Re:Do your research... (1)

EvilRyry (1025309) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680413)

I live on HD209458b you insensitive clod.

Man, you must have some serious lag times.


Seriously... I wonder how he managed to get first post?

Re:Do your research... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18680487)

I live on HD209458b you insensitive clod.

Man, you must have some serious lag times.

Seriously... I wonder how he managed to get first post?


You may also recall that Flux Capacitors grow like weeds on HD209458b.

Re:Do your research... (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681109)

Actually, he got second post, so he must be on dialup.

Re:Do your research... (1)

Ice Wewe (936718) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680415)

I live on HD209458b you insensitive clod.

Man, you must have some serious lag times.

Yeah, but does his ISP shape encrypted traffic? Don't want those damn Plutonians knowing what he does online!

Re:Do your research... (1)

otacon (445694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680561)

I'm actually on dial-up here, you should see what the broadband connections can do.

Re:Do your research... (1)

Colonel Angus (752172) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680671)

Even so, I bet his wireless carrier's data rates are cheaper than Canada's...

Criteria for Life (5, Funny)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680335)

But don't go looking for little green men. You might remember HD209458b as a 'hot Jupiter' that boils under the glow of its very nearby star."

Where there is hot water, there are saunas. Where there are saunas, there are tourists. Thus this remote planet has life, and most likley drinks with little umbrellas (or "snotzwathctls" as the local dialect probably refers to them).

Re:Criteria for Life (0, Redundant)

fractalVisionz (989785) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681483)

Why do people always believe that there needs to be O2 and H20 for life to exist. Methane also allows for what we decided to be organic molecules to form. And quite frankly, I produce life and methane.

But seriously, I hate how we only look for life in an O2 rich place. We don't even know how we came to be, and we could have just as easily been made from NH3...

Re:Criteria for Life (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682257)

We don't. I could dig up some papers for you on other potential biomarkers. They can be as esoteric as sharp lines on the surface that shift seasonally but whose spectral signature doesn't match up with materials that you would expect a phase change for.

Also, O2 is no sure biomarker. Europa has an abiotic O2 atmosphere, albeit extremely thin. A "water world" (earthlike planet with no solid surface, only a giant global sea) could do it: ionizing radiation from the star separates 2 H2O into 4H + 2O, which usually turn into 2H2 + O2. The 2H2 escapes; however, unlike on Europa, the O2 can't escape readily from such a massive body, and unlike Earth, there's not much for it to oxidize.

Of course! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18680345)

Why, just the other day I said "Hey, remember HD209458b"? and everyone was like "Oh yeah, that's the 'Hot Jupiter', right?"

Re:Of course! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18680477)

Why, just the other day I said "Hey, remember HD209458b"? and everyone was like "Oh yeah, that's the 'Hot Jupiter', right?"
At least it wasn't 'Great Personality Jupiter.'

Re:Of course! (1)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680743)

Or "Knows Music Jupiter".

Re:Of course! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681475)

This universe where big fat ping pong balls of a woman with skin blemishes are "hot" intrigues me. Do you have a brochure or mailing list?

Re:Of course! (1)

onkelonkel (560274) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681969)

Re: your sig. That was me. Sorry, didn't you get the memo?

Boiling water? No problem! (4, Insightful)

phyrebyrd (631520) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680349)

Just think of all the marine life that lives in and around the thermal vents on the sea floor... Temperature isn't much of a challenge if you're determined enough!

SR388 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18680351)

Water has been discovered in a planet called SR388, which was previously found to have oxygen.
Yeah, but it's full of Metroids...

Move along, nothing to see here people.

No little green men? (3, Funny)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680363)

How about large, flying whales?

Re:No little green men? (1)

Ice Wewe (936718) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680377)

What about the petunias?

Re:No little green men? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680405)

Flying whales? Aren't they supposed to be kind of floating like blimps?

Re:No little green men? (1)

LoofWaffle (976969) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681541)

In line with this thread, I was thinking that HD209458b might be useful for a proper cup of tea.

Hubris? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18680379)

LOL OMG human hubris! Like, we're so not teh unique planet! Water!1

Aaaaaahhhhhh...... (5, Funny)

ricky-road-flats (770129) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680393)

You might remember HD209458b as a 'hot Jupiter' that boils under the glow of its very nearby star.
Oh, *that* HB209458b...

Re:Aaaaaahhhhhh...... (2, Funny)

otacon (445694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680517)

I was getting it confused with HD209458a for the longest time.

HD209458a (1)

MS-06FZ (832329) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680923)

Can I get game output in that mode? Is it gonna be laggy?

Re:Aaaaaahhhhhh...... (2, Funny)

Mipoti Gusundar (1028156) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680545)

I am coming to America on a HB209458b.

too hot for life (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680435)

Temperature isn't much of a challenge if you're determined enough
"It might eventually be stripped entirely of its gas envelope, leaving behind a liquid core of lava." im pretty sure lava will be hot enough. water is everywhere in space- from the icy cold moons of the outer planets to comets and asteroids- they all have huge amounts of water... ice- the water in this planet is a gas, there needs to be liquid water for something to be alive.

let me get this straight... (1)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680453)

FTA:

Because of the tight orbit, the star would cause immense tides on the planet that "blow away part of the upper atmosphere," explained Alfred Vidal-Madjar, who led the study out of the Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris. As mass is stripped, the planet loses gravitational prowess, making it easier for more hydrogen to flee.

So that's a star and it's slowly killing that poor little planet

We've found something even bigger than water on a different planet

We've found the Death Star!!!

Re:let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18681647)

No, the poor planet's problems can't possibly be due to it's star. We all know it has to be because the HD209458bians didn't reduce their carbon footprint. Now look what they have done!

Oblig. (0, Redundant)

mstahl (701501) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680457)

I, for one, welcome our new HD209458bian overlords.

Re:Oblig. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18681599)

These 'Obligatory...' posts are common enough now to be shortened into Internet Acronyms (IAs). For example, you might have written:

Subject: Ob.
Body: IFOWON HD209458 overlords.

This IA has the added benefit of sounding a bit like the phrase it's replacing.

Likewise, slashdot humor can get the IA treatment:

In Soviet Russia = ISR
Imagine a Beowulf cluster of = IABCO
But does it run Linux? = BDIRL?

and so on. Doing this would save precious bits, and would serve well as a in-joke for the Slashdot cognoscenti. Thus, I, Anonymous Coward, the most prolific poster on Slashdot, hereby recommend that IAs replace all standing Slashdot catch-phrases.

Re:Oblig. (1)

zcsteele (924719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682095)

IABCO of IA's!

ISR, IAs shorten YOU!

"Hi, I'm Troy McClure..." (4, Funny)

sczimme (603413) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680501)


"You might remember me from such planets as HD209458b, the 'hot Jupiter' that boils under the glow of its very nearby star, and from Earth, the deadliest planet of them all."

Oh, I see! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18680513)

Is there any water in Uranus?

Ta-da-boom!

HOT JUPITERS !!! its back (2, Funny)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680565)

someone after the 'hot jupiters' article in in slashdot had had said that his/her favorite exclamation was going to be "HOT JUPITERS !!!!" . i wonder what s/he is doing now.

ah hey. theres a new meme for you.

Don't look for little green men (1)

omaha_boy (512639) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680579)

Look for red-orange crystal based lifeforms called Tholians. Just because the planet is hot, doesn't necessarily mean it can't support life. Although it might be very nasty to us.

Life can easily exist (3, Interesting)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680583)

Thermal resistant bacteria can survive temperatures are up to 600 degrees [wonderclub.com] in sea vents along the ocean floors and hot springs in Yellowstone.

They just need to evolve in that environment.

Re:Life can easily exist (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18680779)

nothing survives at 600 degrees F. That is the temperature of the vent, and is strictly a sterile environment near the opening. The stuff that lives around the vents lives where the cold seawater and the vent liquid mix.

Maximum temperature for microbial life at pressure is closer to 200 degrees F or 90C. Similar to Thermus aquaticus in yellowstone, an extremophile that lives above 70C.

Don't get too carried away! (3, Informative)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680807)

Sure bacteria live inside sea vents and even in nuclear reactor cores. Many of these don't even need oxygen (so using oxygen as an indicator of life is ill informed). Tube worms and other animals found near the vents don't live inside the vents, they live around them where the water is a lot cooler (way less than 100C).

MOD PARENT DOWN - GOATSE (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18680877)

Mod parent down, link redirects to goatse!!!

Re:Life can easily exist (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680959)

I'm asking for some discussion on this subject. A lot of people look at extremophile organisms and take that as evidence that life as we know it ( carbon-based DNA/RNA cells ) is hardy, and can arise in many places -- hot places, cold places, frozen places, boiling places, nuclear reaction chambers, outer space, solid rock, etc., etc.

Personally, I lean toward that idea that life can only *originate* in a small window of 'specs' ( such as 70-100* F, in water, with plenty of amino acids floating around ), and then once cellular metabolism is going, then life can evolve to survive in more extreme environments. It seems to me that DNA and other cellular metabolism machinery is too fragile to survive 'naked' in extreme environments, and can only arise in a small window of circumstances. Once life really gets going, then if can evolve defense mechanisms to survive in more extreme environments.

So I don't think we will find life in planets like hellish Venus or dried up Mars -- **unless** they had Earth-like conditions at some point in the past, where life originated.

Can someone more knowledgeable or opinionated chime in?

Re:Life can easily exist (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681465)

**unless** they had Earth-like conditions at some point in the past, where life originated.

Recall the "programming error" in the survey ramrobots of Niven's Known Space: you only need those Earth-like conditions at one spot, not over the whole planet. Maybe there's the local equivalent of a Mt. Lookitthat [oinc.net] .

Re:Life can easily exist (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681967)

Read the article, it deals with your question quite nicely: "'It now appears that the deep-sea hydrothermal vent environments are akin to those under which life on earth first arose,' Adams said." In other words, this seems to be the place where life started, not the other way around.

To turn your question around: what makes the 70-100F range so special that life has to originate there? Liquid water? Exists in plenty of different fashions at different temperatures. Stable chemistry? Same. All in all, the vents are proof that life can *originate* in situations that are dramatically different from what we consider "requirements."

Re:Life can easily exist (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682185)

Well, I'm not particularly attached to the 70* F, water, etc. I could go for undersea thermal vents. I just wonder if life is hardy, and capable of arising any old place, or if original life needs a special set of circumstances. The reason I chose 70* F and water is because of those experiments that showed basic proteins assembling when some scientist zapped electricity into water with amino acids. I may be wrong, but I believe that naked DNA and the basic amino acids and proteins can survive for a long time in 70* F water.

If we buy the theory that life somehow either was assembled or assembled itself out of simpler parts, my question is, in which environments can we find those simpler parts? We know what the simpler parts are -- DNA, amino acids and proteins. Can we find such parts in thermal vents? How long to they last in 200* F water versus 70* F water? The question is, how much time to they have to assemble themselves into life before they fall apart? Do they have more time in 70* F water than 200* F water? What about liquid water vs. liquid methane, or liquid ammonia?

For example, in what circumstances can naked DNA exist without breaking up? I know that radiation can be destructive for it, even in places where it is protected by the cell structure, such as human skin. Are we likely to find naked DNA in space, where the molecule is exposed to a lot of radiation? Would constant radiation bombardment accelerate the development of life by creating lots of broken DNA pieces? Is there a range of heat and cold than naked DNA can tolerate? How about DNA polymerase? Are there different types of DNA polymerase that are suited for different conditions?

I guess it all goes back to the question of how exactly did life originate. Was it naked DNA that manage to get wrapped up in protecting, replicated proteins? Or did amino acids perform basic replications that eventually developed DNA molecules? Does extremophile life have *extra* machinery to protect the basic replication and metabolism functions, or does it just have different amino acids, suited for their environment?

But can life evolve (1)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681265)

sure, you could take Earth-life and transport it there. but the other side of that equation is, can life evolve on that planet. There are a couple of theories about how life got started on Earth. One is that it came here on comets. Another (this is from Dawkin's book, The Blind Watchmaker) is that life starts in streams with silicate crystals in clay, and that's not something you're likely to find on a hot jupiter.

It turns out that evolution is easy, but genesis is hard. Remember, scientists have managed to make things evolve in a laboratory (or just take a look at what selective breeding can accomplish) - but NO SCIENTIST has ever managed to create life from non-life. Hell, we can't even do a test-tube baby without taking an egg from a woman (meaning, even having DNA is not enough).

So my point is, life can live on MArs or on the moon or on this hot jupiter, but I don't know if it can get started there.

Re:Life can easily exist (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682231)

Fook evolve, let's send a probe!

With everything we have that might survive there. Surely something might do so, and when we get enough tech we can send something that might make this sucker useful.

Lots of heat and pressure... (1, Funny)

insanemime (985459) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680687)

But don't go looking for little green men.
Just tell the US government there's oil up there and see how well funded NASA becomes.

Re:Lots of heat and pressure... (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681435)

Just tell the US government there's oil up there and see how well funded NASA becomes.

No, really. Does that little bit of sophistry have to get trotted out every time a topic like this comes up?

Let's try something else...

"Just tell Hollywood that the planet is really hot, and celebrities will donate millions of dollars and have concerts to raise money for NASA to save the bears that may or may not live there, including a really nice concert somewhere in a nice town in the Great Plains, which um... used to be under water, and later on used to be covered with ice."

There. Now that's some proper flamebait. Please practice, and get back to us, OK?

That's all well and good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18680717)

But what happens when HD209458b is kicked out of the extrasolar planet club?

incomplete summary (2, Interesting)

Darth (29071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680797)

The summary is incomplete. It tells us this :

But don't go looking for little green men. You might remember HD209458b as a 'hot Jupiter' that boils under the glow of its very nearby star."

but neglects to answer the very important question this raises :

Given what we remember about HD209458b, what colour little men should we look for?

My initial guess was red, but there's no guarantee HD209458b-ians can even get sunburned.

If old Sci-Fi has taught anything (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680893)

it's that people from Hot planets are red, or reptilian.
Also, there entire culture can be overthrown by 1 starfleet captian.

Re:If old Sci-Fi has taught anything (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681127)

And that machine intelligence can be defeated by being asked to calculate PI to the last digit, or by explaining that "this statement is a lie."

Re:incomplete summary (1)

LoofWaffle (976969) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681625)

Political Correctness dictates that we call them HD209458b-Americans and not "little {insert color here} {insert gender here}"

Water for life as *WE* know it. (2, Insightful)

mathx (988938) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680865)

There are other systems of life possible, without water, so long as they meet our definitions of life. Im always suprised by this very anthropocentric ('terrapocentric'? :) approach for the requirements for life...

We'll done Sherlock (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680935)

You've just pointed out the incredibly obvious. So obvious in fact, only the dimmest of individual would think otherwise..... oh sorry.

Re:We'll done Sherlock (1)

Hepneck (876605) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681291)

Is it ironic that you took the time to point out the dimness of the previous post, but managed to misspell 'well'?

Re:We'll done Sherlock (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681485)

It is not like rain on your wedding day on HD209458b...

There could be life (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681213)

You might remember HD209458b as a 'hot Jupiter' that boils under the glow of its very nearby star."
That doesn't mean life cant adapt to their surroundings. Kind of like fish at the bottom of the ocean. Sure our human bodies could not survive down there for more than a second but sea life has managed to adapt to the extreme pressures

Talk About... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681393)

You might remember HD209458b as a 'hot Jupiter' that boils under the glow of its very nearby star.

Talk about Global Warming! Al Gore should go and investigate it immediately.

Where's your imagination? (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681579)

But don't go looking for little green men. You might remember HD209458b as a 'hot Jupiter' that boils under the glow of its very nearby star.

Why should that keep little green men from evolving? Read this. [uga.edu] It's an article about life on our own planet that lives in the boiling water around volcanic jets on the ocean floor.

Cool! A Minnie Driver/Anne Hathaway love scene. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681601)

> You might remember HD209458b as a 'hot Jupiter' that boils under the glow of its very nearby star.

No, I don't remember th...wait. Did you say HD209458 b ?

Nevermind.

Boiling Temp. (1)

Philotic (957984) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682031)

Since when do temperatures hot enough to boil water preclude the development of life? On our very own planet there are bacteria living in very harsh conditions, such as along magma conduits and steam vents.

How did this planet form in the first place? (1)

duffolonious (956722) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682129)

Does it have a decaying orbit? Will the star it's orbiting eventually eat it? Was it a star itself at one point?

I'm curious why this wasn't even brought up in the article. I mean I suppose information isn't available, but I'm still curious what the physicists thoughts are on this one.

There, you see? (1)

smithmc (451373) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682195)


  You might remember HD209458b as a 'hot Jupiter' that boils under the glow of its very nearby star

There, you see? Global warming is a problem everywhere these days!

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