Earth Like Planet Discovered


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CTV News
#1
Astronomers claim to have discovered, for the first time, an Earth-like planet outside our solar system that could support water -- and potentially life.

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folcar
#2
Earth-like planet discovered 50 light-years away

Planet is smallest known outside our solar system

By Robert Roy Britt
Thursday, August 26, 2004 Posted: 10:25 AM EDT (1425 GMT)


An artist's impression of the newly discovered planet orbiting a star like the sun. The planet is probably rocky and has a thin atmosphere.



(SPACE.com) -- In a discovery that has left one expert stunned, European astronomers have found one of the smallest planets known outside our solar system, a world about 14 times the mass of our own around a star much like the sun.
It could be a rocky planet with a thin atmosphere, a sort of "super Earth," the researchers said today.
But this is no typical Earth. It completes its tight orbit in less than 10 days, compared to the 365 required for our year. Its daytime face would be scorched.
The planet's surface conditions aren't known, said Portuguese researcher Nuno Santos, who led the discovery. "However, we can expect it to be quite hot, given the proximity to the star."
Hot as in around 1,160 degrees Fahrenheit (900 Kelvin), Santos said.
Still, the discovery is a significant advance in technology: No planet so small has ever been detected around a normal star. And the finding reveals a solar system more similar to our own than anything found so far.
Terrestrial in nature

The star is like our sun and just 50 light-years away. A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). Most of the known extrasolar planets are hundreds or thousands of light-years distant.

The star, mu Arae, is visible under dark skies from the Southern Hemisphere. It harbors two other planets. One is Jupiter-sized and takes 650 days to make its annual trip around the star. The other planet, whose existence was confirmed with the help of the new observations, is farther out.
The three-planet setup, with one being rocky, is unique.
"It's much closer to our solar system than anything we've found so far," said Alan Boss, a planet-formation theorist at the Carnegie Institution in Washington.
"This really is an exciting discovery," said Boss, who was not involved in the work. "I'm still somewhat stunned they have such good data."
The discovery was made with a European Southern Observatory telescope at La Silla, Chile, working at the verge of what's possible to detect.
Most of the more than 120 planets found beyond our solar system are gaseous worlds as big or larger than Jupiter, mostly in tight orbits that would not permit a rocky planet to survive.
A handful of planets smaller than Saturn have been found, but none anywhere near as small as the one announced today. And a trio of roughly Earth-sized planets was found in 2002 to orbit a dense stellar corpse known as a neutron star. They are oddballs, however, circling rapidly around a dark star that would not support life. Some planet hunters don't consider these three to be as important as planets around normal stars.
At 14 times the mass of Earth, the newfound planet -- circling a star similar in size and brightness to our sun -- is about as heavy as Uranus, a world of gas and ice and the smallest giant planet in our solar system. Theorists say 14 Earth-masses is roughly the upper limit for a planet to possibly remain rocky, however. And because this planet is so close to its host star, it likely had a much different formation history than Uranus.
In our solar system, the four innermost planets are all rocky.
Rock and air

The leading theory of planet formation has the gas giants forming from a rocky core, a process in which the core develops over time, then reaches a tipping point when gravity can rapidly collect a huge envelope of gas. This theory suggests the newfound planet never reached that critical mass, said Santos, of the Centro de Astronomia e Astrofisica da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal.
"Otherwise the planet would have become much more massive," Santos said via e-mail.
"This object is therefore likely to be a planet with a rocky core surrounded by a small gaseous envelope and would therefore qualify as a super-Earth," the European team said in a statement.
In a telephone interview, Boss of the Carnegie Institution said the European's analysis of the data represents a "reasonable argument." He said the planet had to form inside the orbit of the larger planet in the system, which orbits the star about twice as far as Earth is from the sun. Boss also points out that Earth is about 18 times as massive as Mercury, so even in our solar system there is a range of possibilities for rocky planets.
Finally, Boss said, the star mu Arae has a higher metal content than the sun, and theory says a planet forming close to such a star can be expected to gather more mass. It's all about how much building material is available, he said.
There are no conventional pictures of the object, as it was detected by noting its gravitational effect on the star. The search project leading to the discovery is led by Michel Mayor of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland.
While researchers do not know the full range of conditions under which life can survive, the newly discovered world, with its hot surface, is not the sort of place biologists would expect to find life as we know it.
Santos said life on the large world is not likely. But, he added, "one never knows."
 
folcar
#3
An interesting article i noticed today iin the paper, it seems of the some 220 planets discovered so far outside our solar system one has been discovered that meets the Earth style criteria. If only we could travel a wee bit further and take a closer look.
 
Eh_Degray
#4
That would be nice, however, first there is a need to develope a new more effecient fuel that would last much longer than any we've already discovered or one that is so compressed that it would allow us to carry an incredibley insane large amount. Next, there is a need for food; could grow it on the ship and this may help solve some of the Oxygen problems you might encouter. If that's not the case it will need to be transprted as well. That brings up the water issue...
Then, well we need to go THE SPEED OF LIGHT for fifty earth years. If travel at that speed is impossible, then it will take considerably longer.
I've heard of a development that may be the frontier to cryogenics. It's a sort of Oxygen-nutrient rich jelly that has been tested on rats but I don't really know if it would slow down rate of age... Since age here is defined by the earth rotating on it's axis. Does time move the same everywhere else? Maybe if tracked by seconds...
Not only that but let's say someone does make it with a group, they wouldn't be able to set foot on it for another 50 years because research must be done. All while assuming there is life, there will be new plant-life, animal-life, and if that's not enough disease. The work here is definatly cut out for whomsoever decides to take it up.
Anyway, If someone somehow comes up with a solution to all of these and much more before the planet is distroyed by us, I'll be suprised.
In conclusion, I'm actually glad that it'll be so difficult because if we can't take care of this one then what gives us the right to have another?
 
folcar
#5
In conclusion, I'm actually glad that it'll be so difficult because if we can't take care of this one then what gives us the right to have another?

All excellant points but this is the best, i once heard a quote that went something like this. "If alien life existed and was aware of us, they would not want us in space. Consider we have the means to end hunger, poverty and disease. Yet we do not. Instead we spend vast amounts of our resources and trillions of our economy on war ever year". Before we can begin to explore space with a more human touch, we must first mature as a species and learn a better way to live.
 
#juan
#6
I like the way they describe this planet as Earth like. It has almost twice the gravity, it has a surface temperature of about 1200 degrees Farenheit. We don't know what the atmosphere is made of. How is it Earth like? I guess it's round like Earth.
 
Eh_Degray
#7
I'm sorry but I don't know where you researched your information and I have conflicting data...
Mine is from CBC News.
Quote: Originally Posted by folcarView Post

-"However, we can expect it to be quite hot, given the proximity to the star."
Hot as in around 1,160 degrees Fahrenheit (900 Kelvin), Santos said.

-The star is like our sun and just 50 light-years away. A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).

-At 14 times the mass of Earth, the newfound planet -- circling a star similar in size and brightness to our sun

It orbits the red dwarf star Gliese 581 in 13 days at a distance 14 times closer than Earth's orbit to the sun. It is estimated that the mean temperature of this super-Earth lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, and water would thus be liquid.
Here in canada the record highs and lows are -45 to 45 degrees Celsius. So since the planet is bigger than our by not 14 but twice as much and 14 times closer to a sun smaller than ours. The chance of an atmosphere is actually pretty big and therefore, a large chance for life. May it be bacterial, organic, or beast.
 
sanctus
#8
What a silly way to occupy one's time. The world is filled with suffering and problems, and millions upon millions of dollars that could be used to help people on earth are wasted on looking for ET.
 
Fingertrouble
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by sanctusView Post

What a silly way to occupy one's time. The world is filled with suffering and problems, and millions upon millions of dollars that could be used to help people on earth are wasted on looking for ET.

Mankind has been exploring for time in memorium, so how is a scientific discovery "looking for ET"? That is a very shallow view Sanctus. It is science like this that has the ability to inspire us and our children into knowing more not only about the world we live in, but the Universe. There is sometimes some justification to question the amount of dollars that may have been spent, but maybe you should find out where the money came from first. We don't know if it was tax dollars...maybe it was private or corporate investment?
If you want to tell someone else where to put their money maybe you should start with all the religous groups in the world, after all, the likes of the Catholic Catholic church has incredible net worth.....maybe it should use it's billions of dollars in cash and art to assist in erradicating the suffering and problems this world has that you are referring to? After all they are sitting on a fortune and not everyone believes what they preach.....at least science is proven......
 
snfu73
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by sanctusView Post

What a silly way to occupy one's time. The world is filled with suffering and problems, and millions upon millions of dollars that could be used to help people on earth are wasted on looking for ET.

I dunno...I disagree. I think it is part of us...we seem to be a species who has a desire to continue to learn and explore. I don't think it is a waste of time at all. I think as much as finding a planet, it is a search for answers...of who we are, and where we came from. If people didn't explore, and think beyond where they were, the planet would be a much different (better or worse is up for judgement) place. We wouldn't be here in Canada...us European folks... Out there may lie answers that we are looking for. That said, you bet, there is plenty of suffering on earth to be addressed..however, I don't think that we can complain about science...there are many ways that resources are being funneled away from helping the poor, the needy, etc. One observation from my parents...in mexico, they toured these old churches in these tiny villages. Outside the church, the people were dirt poor, begging for change, living in shacks. When they went into these churches...which were catholic by the way, they were surrounded by gold and silver. Well...um...why not keep the church simple and use those resources to help that community? To me, that makes even less sense.
 
Fingertrouble
#11
Quote:

One observation from my parents...in mexico, they toured these old churches in these tiny villages. Outside the church, the people were dirt poor, begging for change, living in shacks. When they went into these churches...which were catholic by the way, they were surrounded by gold and silver. Well...um...why not keep the church simple and use those resources to help that community?

Exactly! I totally agree! We understand that the church may do lots, but when you haver inconsistancies like you mentioned in Mexico it shows that they could still do so much more......
 
Eh_Degray
#12
Why them? Why is up to everyone else to take care of things. This is the human mentality, " Someone should do this, someone should do that". Why don't WE do this and that? We don't have the finances - Together we do. Someone should always be doing somthing but no one ever does. Does anyone try to change that? Ya, a few but that's really not enough. Sorry for the off-topicedness...
 
folcar
#13
Another aspect to consider on the topic of exploration for ET and religion is the implications of the discovery, if we discoer life on another world it puts into doubt all the religious doctrines around the world. The questions and debates over the validaty of our age old beliefs would be in question, such a discovery would potentially bring dramatic and drastic change to our culture.

Why them? Why is up to everyone else to take care of things. This is the human mentality, " Someone should do this, someone should do that". Why don't WE do this and that? We don't have the finances - Together we do. Someone should always be doing somthing but no one ever does. Does anyone try to change that? Ya, a few but that's really not enough. Sorry for the off-topicedness...

I totally agree, we are our own worst enemy. We have created a structured society and now are too afraid of the changes needed to make it better, nobody wants to take that first step towards a new age. I believe the monetary style society has run it's course, it's limitations are evident everywhere, and it prevents us from doing the neccesarry things we need to do to improve the lives of every human being on the planet, and in every aspect of society, it divides us, controls us, has damaged our social values and watered us down to a materialistic 15 min culture, and to top it off we have placed a price tag on life.
 
s243a
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by sanctusView Post

What a silly way to occupy one's time. The world is filled with suffering and problems, and millions upon millions of dollars that could be used to help people on earth are wasted on looking for ET.

Of course you would say that. If there were ET the bible would have told us right? Silly Galileo looking though looking though the telescope finding out all sorts of things he wasn’t suppose to see. The study of astronomy has lead to great advances in science from, Newtonian physics to general relativity. Modern engineering depends on Newtonian physics and you can thank those people who spent there nights looking at the starts for this gift. True science is seeking to learn and overcome rather then turning backwards ration and sacrificing. It is the poorest and most ill informed that are most likely to embrace god. The failure of humanity means success for the church be it the church of god or the church of mud huts.
Last edited by s243a; May 19th, 2007 at 02:14 AM..
 

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