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Solar System Look-Alike Found

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the evil-twin dept.

Space 114

SpuriousLogic writes "Astronomers have discovered a planetary system orbiting a distant star which looks much like our own. They found two planets that were close matches for Jupiter and Saturn orbiting a star about half the size of our Sun. Martin Dominik, from St Andrews University in the UK, said the finding suggested systems like our own could be much more common than we thought."

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Must be our evil mirror solar system counterpart (4, Funny)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#22993948)

But wait! I'm the one with the goatee. Does that mean I'm the evil one???

Re:Must be our evil mirror solar system counterpar (1)

gdog05 (975196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994072)

I really hope we're the evil ones, because if we're the nice ones.....whew! We're in trouble. Of course there's a chance that Kodos and Kang have enslaved all of them.

Re:Must be our evil mirror solar system counterpar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22994120)

Say nothing of the kind.
In our post-modern universe, we're all morally equivalent for a while, and then we die.

Re:Must be our evil mirror solar system counterpar (4, Funny)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994160)

If your the one with goatse... Yes, you are the evil one.

Ohhhh! goatEE. Never mind.

Re:Must be our evil mirror solar system counterpar (1)

c0p0n (770852) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994394)

No, as long as your counterpart has got a goatse on his face instead.

Re:Must be our evil mirror solar system counterpar (5, Funny)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994578)

This solar system looks like ours, but it's only half our size.

My theory is that we're both evil (like Doctor Evil and Mini-Me).

Re:Must be our evil mirror solar system counterpar (1)

kris.montpetit (1265946) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994864)

good or evil, they will be our midget mirror counterparts-their solar system being approximately half the size and all

Re:Must be our evil mirror solar system counterpar (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 6 years ago | (#22995328)

Awesome, I was starting to worry I might not be able to tell them apart if I got drunk and wandered into the wrong one. How awkward would that be? "Sorry, I thought you were the evil version of my neighbor's wife, my mistake."

Re:Must be our evil mirror solar system counterpar (1)

Teufelsmuhle (849105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22999590)

midget


Um... little person.

Re:Must be our evil mirror solar system counterpar (3, Funny)

Oldav (533444) | more than 6 years ago | (#22996148)

Nah, a goatee used to make you look evil, but now only makes you look like a disaffected member of generation X.

Re:Must be our evil mirror solar system counterpar (1)

niktemadur (793971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22998204)

Nah, a goatee used to make you look evil, but now only makes you look like a disaffected member of generation X.
Old lady - OMG, here comes another Gen X'er with a goatee and a Soundgarden tat on his arm! Run for your lives!
Gen X'er - But ma'am, wouldn't you like to buy some of my homemade cookies for charity to the blind?
Old lady - Shoo! Go away, you filthy slacker, or I'm yelling "rape"!

When will this cruel, pointless discrimination end? And who's the evil mutant in this little parable, eh?

A bit of a reach (5, Insightful)

Bovius (1243040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22993950)

I'm sorry, I have trouble whenever whenever an astronomer suggests that something they found "may be much more common than we thought." One observation does not mean way more common. It jumps the gap from "purely theoretical" to "proven possible", and in the data set of the known universe really isn't enough to make any type of assertion about commonality.

Yes, I know, our solar system makes it two.

Re:A bit of a reach (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22993972)

It certainly eliminates the "uniqueness" we thought our solar system was. So yes, 2 is more common than we previously thought.

Re:A bit of a reach (2, Insightful)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994092)

So yes, 2 is more common than we previously thought.

Because a star is "just like ours" if it has 50% of the mass?

I'm sorry, this story is a ridiculous piece of over-reaching. A star half the size of ours will have, off the cuff, maybe 1/4th the light output. How big is that habitable zone going to be?

Re:A bit of a reach (1)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994436)

The first thing I thought when I read the summary: "two gas planets + a half-size sun != similar to our solar system."

Re:A bit of a reach (2, Informative)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994656)

Actually, considering the range of sizes stars can have, a factor of 2 is pretty damn close in the astronomical world.

Re:A bit of a reach (2, Insightful)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#22995586)

Saying that "a factor of 2 is pretty damn close in the astronomical world" is right, but it proves how unlikely it is that we'll find another solar system "just like ours." If astronomers think that being off by 50% is a discovery worth announcing worldwide, then that shows just how unlikely they think it is that they'll discover something that's only off by 5-10%. As others have said, a sun that's half the size of ours will have a much smaller habitable zone (at least based on carbon/water life), and there are only gas giants circling this star.

Re:A bit of a reach (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 6 years ago | (#22997534)

I don't think we necessarily know if their are smaller planets in this new system. I'm not sure the exact limitations, but while there have been small (smaller than earth even) objects detected, they seem to only be detected in systems with no significantly larger objects present. This suggests to me that having a big object interferes with detecting a nearby small one.

Re:A bit of a reach (2, Insightful)

niktemadur (793971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22998352)

...it proves how unlikely it is that we'll find another solar system "just like ours". If astronomers think that being off by 50% is a discovery worth announcing worldwide, then that shows just how unlikely they think it is that they'll discover something that's only off by 5-10%.

Another way of looking at it, is that the technologies and techniques used to detect extrasolar planets are getting more sensitive and precise, we're inching closer the point in which we'll be able to detect solar systems much more similar to our own. The announcement is the equivalent of saying "We've attained a new milestone, we're getting there".

Ten years ago, only super-Jupiters with orbital periods of a couple of days could tug at its' star strongly enough to be detected from Earth, while today much more subtle (and complex) influences can be inferred.

Even though extrasolar planets are discovered so often now that it's almost become a mundane occurrence, we've yet to even begin the Golden Age Of Planet Discovery. Just you wait until the Kepler Mission, New Worlds Mission, Terrestrial Planet Finder Mission, or any other of an array of proposals, come to fruition. Then the fun will truly start. And let's be patient, as Hubble, COBE and WMAP took like what seemed forever to get off the ground, yet look at the results.

Re:A bit of a reach (1)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | more than 6 years ago | (#22995896)

"pretty damn close"?

As I said, it's going to have a much lower light output and, thus, a much smaller habitable zone - hardly "just like our sun" and hardly likely to have an earth-like world.

Re:A bit of a reach (1)

Screaming Cactus (1230848) | more than 6 years ago | (#22997456)

We found a system with two planets that take the roles of Jupiter and Saturn in our Solar System
Yes, just like Jupiter and Saturn are the only two planets in our solar system, so are these! Yes, I can see the similarities! And considering the range of sizes stars have, versus the number of stars, I have to say no, there are many many stars virtually indistinguishable from our sun. It's nice that they found some planets similar to our gas giants, but I don't think that gives them the right to call that system our twin. A "twin" of our system should have multiple small, rocky planets orbiting inside several large, gassy planets with maybe a sparse cloud of icy particles orbiting in the far reaches.

Re:A bit of a reach (2, Insightful)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994682)

Half the size is still very much alike....
And because the configuration is alike (as far as gas giants and there place) it is likely that the evolution of our system is not unique.

Re:A bit of a reach (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#22995024)

"Yeah, I know this guy who looks just like me. The only difference is that he is half my size but besides that, we are like two drops of water."

Re:A bit of a reach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22996014)

The uniqueness in question I think is the 2 gas giants that aren't in close orbits. We tend to see "hot" giants, almost skimming the surface of their stars, and usually only one. I think. Anyway, just about every new system we find broadens our experience of what is possible in some interesting way at this point because we've seen so few of them. Hell, we can't even really see rocky planets yet... certainly not on enough stars to be useful.

Re:A bit of a reach (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22998842)

How big is that habitable zone going to be?
Depends if those midgets have invented electricity. It would be pretty fun to watch a midget flying a kite in an electrical storm. Hmm.

Anyway, roll on the discovery of other M class planets! Gas giants are fun because you can joke about gas and give them names like 'Uranus', but they're not much use for habitation.

I propose that we call these gas giants Dupiter, and Dupiter.

Re:A bit of a reach (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22998848)

I guess that should be 'discovered' rather than 'invented'. My bad.

Re:A bit of a reach (1)

Hannah E. Davis (870669) | more than 6 years ago | (#22993976)

Well, two is more common than one, so if we originally thought we were unique.... well...

Re:A bit of a reach (2, Informative)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994028)

I think the idea is that since we can only examine such a small fraction of the universe, anything we find must be reasonably "common". (Earth itself being exempt from that logic because of the anthropic principle.)

Re:A bit of a reach (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 6 years ago | (#22995074)

local != common

Re:A bit of a reach (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 6 years ago | (#22997624)

Since when was the anthropic principle "Because we don't see it, it doesn't exist."?

Re:A bit of a reach (1)

corgan517 (1040154) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994138)

Agreed, though my trouble stems from the fact that I know relatively little (ok ...nothing) about the assumed frequency of planet-types within any system. It may be that they had predicted not to find a similar situation in this case... Can't say with out statistics to compare.

Re:A bit of a reach (1)

tirerim (1108567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994182)

We don't really have any previous data on how common they are, though, so "more common than we thought" is pretty much meaningless. We've only just started having the technology to potentially detect systems like our own (and we still can't detect terrestrial planets like ours). All we knew before was that systems quite unlike our own were common, which doesn't say much when they were the only kind we could detect. It will be awhile longer before we can even make an initial statement of whether they're rare or common.

Re:A bit of a reach (4, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994530)

Right; we don't really have any data to confirm how common earthlike planets are. I expect they're very common, using the common-sense reasoning thusly: As soon as we gained the technology to detect big planets we found them all over. As soon as we develop the technology to detect small planets, the same thing will probably happen. I'm 99% positive I'm right.

But scientists can't really reason that way; they may hypothesize smaller planets, but can't really make any factual statement about what lies beyond their ability to detect. I guess that the statement would be better phrased as we now have concrete evidence our solar system isn't unique, so the hypothesis that our type of system is relatively common has passed a hurdle of proof.

Re:A bit of a reach (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 6 years ago | (#22998442)

It all depends on how closely you define "earthlike". If you just mean something nearly the right size in close to the right position, then I expect that you're right. They're common. If, OTOH, you mean a place where we could live without space-suits...then it's a lot less likely.

What most people don't internalize is just how special the moon has made Earth. That was a humongous collision back then, any it probably stripped off a large amount of atmosphere. Without that, it would require a much lighter world to be "earthlike". (Venus is too heavy.) But Venus is already light enough that it's techtonic plates have locked (though that might be due to dessication).

Small worlds mean the core cools quickly. Large worlds mean deep atmospheres.

Worlds suitable for SOME kind of life may be common. Worlds suitable for us are probably an extreme rarity.

And I haven't even considered the allergenic possibilities of alien life. Plan on living in domes, space-suits, and space ships when you're off-planet.

Re:A bit of a reach (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22998970)

But scientists can't really reason that way; they may hypothesize smaller planets, but can't really make any factual statement about what lies beyond their ability to detect.
Not conclusive proof no, but there are theories of planetary formation. We have observed big lumps of matter, and we can see from our own solar system that there's plenty smaller lumps of matter like earth and the other small planets, all the satellites around jupiter and saturn, asteroids and whatnot. It's like me observing you cutting a slice of bread from some distance, I may not be able to see anything but the slice but it requires a pretty funky theory to make me believe the process didn't create crumbled bread as well.

Re:A bit of a reach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22999118)

Actually you are using common-NONsense reasoning in your first paragraph by stating:
IF a THEN b THUS IF c THEN d

There is no guarantee that just because we will have the technology that there is something to detect.
I'm not saying that there aren't any planets to detect, just that your reasoning is flawed.

Re:A bit of a reach (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994186)

I'm sorry, I have trouble whenever whenever an astronomer suggests that something they found "may be much more common than we thought." One observation does not mean way more common. It jumps the gap from "purely theoretical" to "proven possible", and in the data set of the known universe really isn't enough to make any type of assertion about commonality.

Re:A bit of a reach (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994964)

I'm sorry, I have trouble whenever whenever an astronomer suggests that something they found "may be much more common than we thought." One observation does not mean way more common. It jumps the gap from "purely theoretical" to "proven possible", and in the data set of the known universe really isn't enough to make any type of assertion about commonality.


I suppose it depends on what one considers "common."

Lets put it this way. If you walked up to a haystack and looked down and quickly spotted a needle, wouldn't that suggest to you that needles might be pretty common in the haystack? I mean, what are the chances that you would just happen to observe the location of a single needle in a large haystack in a relatively short period of time? Certainly it is possible that you foudn the *only* one, but it is much more likely that there were many that you could have spotted first.

Re:A bit of a reach (1)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 6 years ago | (#22995342)

That's a darn good analogy, and it makes sense to suggest that solar systems like our own are likely to be more common than ever imagined.

Leap of imagination (1)

SpiderClan (1195655) | more than 6 years ago | (#22993958)

We found a solar system that is kinda, sorta like ours in two of the planets, and we are "on the brink" of discovering more. Get the space RVs warmed up!

Real Estate Prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22993974)

I heard you can buy a two bedroom rancher on its earth-like planets for only $15000. Of course, the commute is killer.

Re:Real Estate Prices (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994224)

Well, with the subprime mortage stuff going on in the US, I wouldnt be surprised that people start buying...

Re:Real Estate Prices (3, Funny)

Snowmit (704081) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994432)

I heard you can buy a two bedroom rancher on its earth-like planets for only $15000. Of course, the commute is killer.
Listen, I'll sell you one right now for only $4999. Act fast! The long term returns on this real estate investment are ASTRONOMICAL.

Might be somewhere interesting (3, Insightful)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 6 years ago | (#22993980)

for the SETI crowd to point their antennas to.

Re:Might be somewhere interesting (1)

HermDog (24570) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994908)

So this is where Starbuck ended up!

Re:Might be somewhere interesting (1)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 6 years ago | (#22995358)

So . . . perhaps we shouldn't aim our antennas at it. Perhaps it's a Cylon base. Perhaps we are all doomed. DOOOOMED

Re:Might be somewhere interesting (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#22996166)

Of course it's not. It's 5,000 bloody light years away. There are stars 1,000 times closer to us than that. And 1,000 times closer to us would mean that we'd receive the same radio signals 1 million times better.

Re:Might be somewhere interesting (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 6 years ago | (#22998628)

'Of course it's not. It's 5,000 bloody light years away. There are stars 1,000 times closer to us than that.'

And here they are:

Sun
Proxima Centauri (V645 Cen) 4.2 ly
Rigil Kentaurus (Alpha Cen A) 4.3 ly
                        (Alpha Cen B) 4.3 ly

Re:Might be somewhere interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22997708)

No, that's not the antenna he was talking about.

Next.

5,000 light years (3, Insightful)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22993986)

... "At least planetary systems like ours might be more common than previously thought over that direction, 5,000 years ago, at around the distance from us that light would take 5,000 years to get here. Or maybe somebody's holding up a distorted mirror 2,500 light years away. We're not really sure. Some scientist said we're discovering more than we used to, now that we're confident that we can detect them and bother looking. That must mean the spike in data is representative."

I'm looking hopefully forward to giving people directions by system name and planet number just as much as the next /. geek. I doubt, though, that thinking in general about the number of multi-planet systems has changed drastically because of this one system. Like most science reporting in the mainstream press, this is oversimplified and overhyped.

Impressive work (4, Interesting)

hattig (47930) | more than 6 years ago | (#22993996)

I read the article earlier, and then it had that the star was 5 light years away. I investigated, and it is actually 4900 light years away.

I'm impressed that they could resolve two planets going around a star that far away, gravitational lensing or not.

Earth2 (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994318)

If we do find a planet there that is earth like. If we could get there. Should we go there and take it over?

Re:Earth2 (1)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 6 years ago | (#22995368)

Of course, lest they take us over first. You don't want to be a slave to an alien civilization, do you?

Overlords... (2, Funny)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 6 years ago | (#22996386)

Of course, lest they take us over first. You don't want to be a slave to an alien civilization, do you?
With all of the overlord welcoming that goes on around here, I wouldn't be surprised if the answer to that question is "Yes".

Dupe (3, Informative)

jdb2 (800046) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994024)

Here's the original from February 14 :

[slashdot.org] http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/02/14/223241 [slashdot.org]

jdb2

Re:Dupe (1)

wanderingknight (1103573) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994496)

You even duped the [website] tag!

rocky planets (1, Insightful)

MyNymWasTaken (879908) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994032)

I am impressed, but I'll be much more impressed when techniques are developed that can spot rocky Earth-type planets.

Re:rocky planets (2, Informative)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994112)

Actually if you read the article (I know this is slashdot....) you would know that the current techniques are at the level that an earth like planet could be detected with gravitational lensing.
Just not at the distance of this system.

An earth size rock could be detected any day now.

Re:rocky planets (0)

MyNymWasTaken (879908) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994438)

I did read the article, and will be suitably impressed when microlensing, or another technique, does find an extrasolar Earth-like planet.

Re:rocky planets (0)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22995380)

A more likely method of finding a small extrasolar planet is by using the transit method. Using this method they are able to detect much smaller planets. There is also potential to see what is in it's atmosphere using this method. It works by detecting the light blocked as a planet crosses in front of the star from where we are observing it. When the happens the star dims. The more the star dims, the bigger the planet.

Re:rocky planets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22996422)

Unfortunately this technique is limited to systems with orbital planes that point directly at us.

Re:rocky planets (0)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 6 years ago | (#22996232)

I'll be impressed when "they" can send me there ... with a six pack and Yeoman Rand.

Re:rocky planets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22995646)

Good. Now all we need to do is build a robot army to destroy the current inhabitants. We may still have time to save ourselves!

Re:rocky planets (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994134)

They're the ones that are fighting Apollo Creed Earth Type planets.

I'd me more impressed... (1)

Nick Driver (238034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994858)

...when they can spot a planet that has an ocean of liquid water on it.

Re:rocky planets (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22995940)

I am impressed, but I'll be much more impressed when techniques are developed that can spot rocky Earth-type planets.

Eh, it's just a matter of money. IIRC we could put a constellation of even old Hubble-type 'scopes at L3 and do this today. We just need to scrap together $40B or so. Presumably we can do it affordably with future technology.

The James Webb Space Telescope will reveal... (0, Offtopic)

Braintrust (449843) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994048)

... that the inhabitants are all wearing sashes and goatees!!

Clever AI (0, Offtopic)

Artuir (1226648) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994076)

I am new 'round these parts, but in my short time of observation I've begun to think that slashdot editors are really a conglomeration of various AI designed to fool us all into thinking they are real people just posting dupes over and over and over again. It's like a very messed up Turing test!

Bearing this in mind things become a little more bearable. :(

Could be a Chinese copy..... :) (1)

truthful cynic (525883) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994130)

And just wait until you can patent solar systems. Yes, the vogons will come not to build a hyperspace bypass, but rather for trademark/patent infringement...

You laugh now....

"Inhabited" or "Inhabitable?" (4, Insightful)

BeeBeard (999187) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994146)

FTA:

He said that the ultimate goal for exoplanet researchers was to find habitable Earth-like and Mars-like planets.
(emphasis added)

While we all crack wise about the bizarro planet of our science fiction dreams, it bears pointing out that the point of the program is ostensibly to find other inhabitable planets--that is, potential sites for future human expansion, rather than other inhabited planets. The difference between the two is not insignificant, and is a nod to the somewhat conservative view that while it may prove impossible to find another planet like the Earth where life has evolved concurrently with our own, it is nevertheless very realistic to search for another planet like the Earth where life could thrive.

Re:"Inhabited" or "Inhabitable?" (1)

ShadowFlair (690961) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994218)

That's a very good point. The way the human population grows in combination with the way we use the resources on Earth, it is theoretically possible that we run out of resources and need to colonize other planets. In that context, searching for a habitable planet is highly practical in the long run.

Reminds me of how Q in StarTrek says that humans are like a virus and that we infect planets.

PETA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22994448)

I'm with PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Aliens - and you better not do ANYTHING to the inhabited planets or planets that may seem to be uninhabited!

Thank you.

Re:"Inhabited" or "Inhabitable?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22994504)

it is nevertheless very realistic to search for another planet like the Earth where life could thrive.

At least what we recognize as the foundations of what we consider as living and aiding in the process to come to that point.

I find it always fascinating how we're out to find planets with a potential to harbor life or has the right ingredients for what we believe has sprawn life on earth.

Yet, as the current state of understanding tells us, we have evolved in this solar system and adjusted to the conditions here; We've evolved in close relation with our sun; without light the ability to see would not be so much of evolutionary advantage. We cannot function without sleeping, which is adjusted to the sun-cyclus. Our skin transforms sunlight into vitamins, it darkens to protect us from too much sunlight, ...

It's not hard to follow this logic and see we're unable to conceptualize anything other then what we know from observation and are able to conceptualize in relation to our environment. It's so tightly related, it seems to me there might be alot of different lifeforms, that do not have the same evolution behind it, without the same base but with a whole other evolutionary process. With the possiblity we're unable to detect or observe it even if we were directly confronted with it. The same way you might be tuning into a wrong wavelength or lacking tools to visualize things that fall out of our ability to observe.

But I understand one needs a base of recognizable requirements of to look out, and finding a recognizable lifeform with the same evolutionary process as ours or a planetset with the same conditions humans could settle on. It'd be the ultimate place to travel to; a virgin earth.

Re:"Inhabited" or "Inhabitable?" (1)

teslar (706653) | more than 6 years ago | (#22998152)

the point of the program is ostensibly to find other inhabitable planets--that is, potential sites for future human expansion
What's the point of that? I mean, yeah, sure, eventually we will need such sites, whether it's out of necessity or just because we can. However, I'm pretty sure that once we actually have the technology to travel to such planets within a reasonable timeframe, we will also have the technology to find them much more quickly, reliably and easily than at the moment. So - what's the point of looking for inhabitable planets in a time where technology barely allows us to reach neighbouring planets within our own solar system? What is the advantage/gain here? Inhabited planets, on the other hand, I could understand.

I always love remarks like (1)

WiglyWorm (1139035) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994164)

"could be much more common than we thought". They come in every astronomy news feature in which scientists discover a new anything.

How do we know scientists didn't just get lucky and find the only other solar system similar to ours in the entire universe?

Re:I always love remarks like (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994386)

Reminds me of Archeology too. Find 1 pot with drawings of people bending down before a tree and suddenly "this civilization worshiped trees!"

That's why I always paint pictures of modern celebrities bowing before programmers, so the future will look back and assume we were some type of utopia. At least the nerds will. And considering they'd be the ones who'd do the digging...

Re:I always love remarks like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22994942)

The same way you 'know' that everyone else who played the lottery this week didn't play the exact same numbers as you...that is to say you don't! But you do know it's unlikely enough that you don't have to consider it.

Re:I always love remarks like (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 6 years ago | (#22998384)

Because two is by far the least likely number in cosmology. In such a huge (we still don't know if it is finite) but apparently space-invariant universe, a kind of object is far more likely to be either totally unique or present in a certain percentage of stars or galaxies, but the thing is that, however low that percentage will be, the result will still be a good approximation of infinite.

Biz opportunity? (2, Funny)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994690)

A solar system with similar features to our own eh? Darl...?

Re:Biz opportunity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22999544)

"I can imagine a world of love, peace, and no wars. Then I imagine myself attacking that place because they would never expect it." --Jack Handy

To your calculators! (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#22994874)

Using that microlensing technique, and knowing that we can detect a Saturn in a twin solar system 5,000 light years away, how close would a star have to be for us to be able to detect an Earth?

Is one of the planets named (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22994968)

Caprica? Because if so I am going to be crapping out Rubiks cubes.

what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22995010)

so the odds of finding another solar system like ours is now what, 2 in a billion, instead of 1? finding two similar features does not constitute a pattern...

1st Strike (1)

ezwip (974076) | more than 6 years ago | (#22995032)

This solar system being much like our own could develop nuclear weapons within the next 3-5 years. I think the only answer is a Illudium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator. Production must begin immiedately.

Giant Mirror? (1)

Whom99 (673995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22995064)

Won't they be embarassed when they discover the giant flat mirror floating halfway between us and the "similar-looking" system.

Re:Giant Mirror? (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 6 years ago | (#22998470)

Embarassement? No, discovering what initially looked like a normal star system that looked quite similar to our was a large specter mirror billions of km wide with an efficient orientation mechanism would be worth a lifetime of Nobel Prices, ...all of them.

Paging Dr. Drake (2, Funny)

dpilot (134227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22995084)

Your equation is waiting... ...for some coefficients.

Earth scientists find Sol-like system, (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 6 years ago | (#22995426)

Earth lawyers sue for copying the "look and feel" of the solar system.

We should sue (1)

wildzeke (191754) | more than 6 years ago | (#22995930)

We should sue for copyright infringement.

If the sun is half the size... (1)

javelinco (652113) | more than 6 years ago | (#22995936)

then the system isn't all that like ours. It may be better than any other one so far... but that's far from okay. Let's hope they'll be able to stop with the B.S. press releases and give us some real good news one of these days.

50% mass, like our own? (1)

skeptictank (841287) | more than 6 years ago | (#22996278)

It's a freaking red subdwarf with 50% of the mass of Sol. The luminosity is probably 1/400th of our star. Any planet close enough to have liquid water would probably get slammed by massive flares on a regular basis - it might even be tidally locked to the star.

Until we can detect planets in the mass range of Earth, I don't think there is any point in speculating about the prevailance of systems that might support life in a carbon-based, water-saturated ecology like Earth.

yay for that (1)

DarkProphet (114727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22996382)

This is sort of offtopic, but I have a different perspective on any of these reports of Sol-like systems.

Given our current detection technology, how far away could an alien observer be and still be able to
1) Detect Sol

2) Detect rocky planets within Sol's habitable zone, specifically at least one of Earth's dimensions.

3) Determine the composition of one of those planets to be composed of organic chemistry requisite for life as we know it?

My layman's guess is that that alien observer would have to be absurdly close to us in order to measure these 3 things, even the first two for that matter.

I've wondered about this for quite some time, but don't know enough about the limits of our current detection methods to determine how far away an outside observer could theoretically be and still detect earth at all, much less its chemical composition. Anyone care to enlighten me. I am really curious about this.

My point being, that my layman's guess suggests that by a large margin, there are more points within our galaxy that earth is completely invisible, in respect to our current observation technology. If that is truly the case, then would it be foolish to suggest that the Sol system isn't particularly rare at all? If not, then why is it so special that we've found something that "sort-of" resembles Sol? Big whoop. Get back to me when they've found a place we can actually emigrate to ;-)

UPDATE (2, Funny)

lordfoul (108260) | more than 6 years ago | (#22996672)

It turns out we were looking into the wrong end of the telescope. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

I wonder... (3, Interesting)

MrCreosote (34188) | more than 6 years ago | (#22996698)

if they have the same gods as we do?

Re:I wonder... (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 6 years ago | (#22998436)

If they were intelligently designed, probably not.

Common "god"s, religion, and ethics (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#22998652)

Same gods "we" do? There are thousands of religions on earth, some of which have no gods at all. Even the ones that have "a god" often mostly just share the word due to word importation into other languages.

Most religions DO seem to share a common sense of decency though (see the golden rule, for instance) -- at least amongst practitioners who really study that religion (as opposed to sunday-go-to-churchers who just grow up religion and think they know it because their father/grandmother did).

So that would be one of my first questions regarding an alien species -- do they (or any of them) share that same idea of ethics, compassion, selflessness, humility, or reverence for life and the wold around them that we often have? Because if not, and their tech is superior, we're really, really screwed.

I feel a lawsuit coming on (1)

Gevaudansbeast (1164551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22997086)

Sue them for all they've got, if we let ONE solar system get away with copying our design then soon ALL the solar systems will.
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