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  • Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet

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    WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- European astronomers have spotted what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet outside our solar system, with balmy temperatures that could support water and, potentially, life.

    They have not directly seen the planet, orbiting a red dwarf star called Gliese 581. But measurements of the star suggest that a planet not much larger than the Earth is pulling on it, the researchers say in a letter to the editor of the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

    "This one is the first one that is at the same time probably rocky, with water, and in a zone close to the star where the water could exist in liquid form," said Stephane Udry of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland, who led the study.

    "We have estimated that the mean temperature of this super-Earth lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, and water would thus be liquid."

    Most of the 200 or so planets that have been spotted outside this solar system have been gas giants like Jupiter. But this one is small.

    "Its radius should be only 1.5 times the Earth's radius, and models predict that the planet should be either rocky, like our Earth, or covered with oceans," Udry said in a telephone interview.

    It appears to have a mass five times that of Earth's.

    The research team includes scientists credited with the first widely accepted discovery of a planet outside our solar system, in 1995.

    Many teams are looking for planets circling other stars. They are especially looking for those similar to our own, planets that could support life.

    That means finding water.
    X marks the spot

    "Because of its temperature and relative proximity, this planet will most probably be a very important target of the future space missions dedicated to the search for extra-terrestrial life," Xavier Delfosse, a member of the team from Grenoble University in France, said in a statement.

    "On the treasure map of the universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X."

    Gliese 581 is among the 100 closest stars to Earth, just 20.5 light-years away in the constellation Libra.

    A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion km).

    It is smaller and dimmer than the sun, so the planet can be close to it and yet not be overheated.

    "These low-mass stars are the ones where we are going to be able to discover planets in the habitable zone first," said planet-hunter David Bennett of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, who was not involved in the research.

    Bennett cautioned that current temperature alone does not mean water still exists on the planet. It could have burned off ages ago, when the star was hotter than it is now.

    Udry's team uses a method known as radial velocity, using the European Southern Observatory telescope at La Silla, Chile.

    The same team has identified one larger planet orbiting Gliese 581 already and say they have strong evidence of a third planet with a mass about eight times that of the Earth.

    Future missions, perhaps in 20 to 30 years, may be able to block the light from the star and take a spectrographic image of the planets. The color of the light coming from the planet can give hints of whether water, or perhaps large amounts of plant life, exist there.
    Amazing find.

  • #2
    Re: Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet

    Very cool story... now do we bend space to get there??? Also, If you could bring one thing to show the aliens on this planet what life is like on earth, what it be, other than DNA, which is already in us...

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    • #3
      Re: Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet

      Copy all of wikipedia onto DVDs and bring a computer.



      TacticalGamer TX LAN/BBQ Veteran

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      • #4
        Re: Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet

        Gunther videos.
        A policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy. -F.A. Hayek

        "$250,000 a year won't get me to Central Park West."

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        • #5
          Re: Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet

          Awesome although inevitible.
          Retired 6th DB

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          • #6
            Re: Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet

            I wonder if the denizens of this planet also accuse their scientists of perpetuating fake global warming conspiracies?

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            • #7
              Re: Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet

              The real importance is not so much the discovery of this planet itself, but the fact that it shows that Earth-like planets are probably extremely common in the Universe.

              There are 200 billion stars in our galaxy alone and many astronomers believe most of these stars have planets.

              The fact that almost as soon as we have built a telescope capable of detecting small, earth-like worlds, one turns up right on our cosmic doorstep, shows that statistically, there are probably billions of earths out there.

              As Seth Shostak says: "We've never found one close to being like the Earth until now. We are finding that Earth is not such an unusual puppy in the litter of planets."


              Cool...

              New to TG?

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              • #8
                Re: Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet

                Originally posted by thebleakaffinity View Post
                I wonder if the denizens of this planet also accuse their scientists of perpetuating fake global warming conspiracies?
                Along that line ,I wonder if they accuse their scientists of faking the finding of our planet?
                LoyalGuard

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                • #9
                  Re: Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet

                  Originally posted by loyalguard View Post
                  Along that line ,I wonder if they accuse their scientists of faking the finding of our planet?
                  I doubt the legitimacy of this story, especially if the so-called discovery was made by scientific consensus by a group of left leaning scientists who are trying desperately to prove that earth is the only planet capable of life... I mean, how many other stars do you see when you look out on a sunny day??? None, all right, next theory...

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                  • #10
                    Re: Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet

                    I was listening to Art Bell (well George was on) last night and they had a scientist (astronomy?) on last night talking about the planet. He said that the red dwarf sun it orbits lives much longer than our hotter burning sun. So most likely this planet is billions of years older than our sun. Like could already be there.
                    ...............................








                    Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

                    -Benjamin Franklin

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                    • #11
                      Re: Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet

                      Originally posted by LuckyStrike View Post
                      I was listening to Art Bell (well George was on) last night and they had a scientist (astronomy?) on last night talking about the planet. He said that the red dwarf sun it orbits lives much longer than our hotter burning sun. So most likely this planet is billions of years older than our sun. Like could already be there.
                      Assuming such a planet exists for every 40,000 light years^3, at a very conservative, low end approach, then some simple calculations suggests that there could be 8e8 such planets in the galaxy; we're looking at anywhere from 100 million to 1 billion!

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                      • #12
                        Re: Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet

                        Are there lots of earth-like planets in the galaxy? Maybe, maybe not, but this discovery really doesn't shed much light on that question...at least not yet.

                        We have 2 numbers on this planet: an estimated mass, and an estimated distance from its star. Thats it. Thats the sum total of our knowledge of this planet's characteristics. We haven't seen it yet. We're hoping it might be similar to earth due to having a similar level of solar irradiance, but it could just as easily be more like Venus, or perhaps Mars. And in any case it can't be too similar to Earth because it has about 5 times our mass, leading to very different gravitational conditions.

                        More study is needed. ;)

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                        • #13
                          Re: Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet

                          probability of intelligent life outside of our solar system = 1.

                          “Up, sluggard, and waste not life; in the grave will be sleeping enough!” Benjamin Franklin

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                          • #14
                            Re: Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet

                            If the surface is all water, maybe it would be like the (terrible) movie 'Waterworld!'

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                            • #15
                              Re: Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet

                              Originally posted by AMosely View Post
                              If the surface is all water, maybe it would be like the (terrible) movie 'Waterworld!'
                              Maybe that's where it was filmed... and the movie just ended up on earth by way of a sole surviving piece of some cosmic junk long ago expelled by said planet that happened to collide with our beloved earth, tormenting our subconscious for ever more :madsmile:

                              ZOMG... This means Kevin Costner is an alien :icon_eek:
                              It matters not what letters or numbers come before my name, I'll always be 1stMIP.

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                              "It is all about being a teamplayer. Give a kitchen sink to a teamplayer and he'll find a way to support his squad with it."
                              - John_CANavar (Marshall & Founder of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Platoon)

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