Scientists discover a nearly Earth-sized planet

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PostWed Apr 22, 2009 1:31 am » by Vulcanic


yahoo news april 21st 2009

By JENNIFER QUINN, Associated Press Writer Jennifer Quinn, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 28 mins ago
HATFIELD, England – In the search for Earth-like planets, astronomers zeroed in Tuesday on two places that look awfully familiar to home. One is close to the right size. The other is in the right place. European researchers said they not only found the smallest exoplanet ever, called Gliese 581 e, but realized that a neighboring planet discovered earlier, Gliese 581 d, was in the prime habitable zone for potential life.

"The Holy Grail of current exoplanet research is the detection of a rocky, Earth-like planet in the 'habitable zone,'" said Michel Mayor, an astrophysicist at Geneva University in Switzerland.

An American expert called the discovery of the tiny planet "extraordinary."

Gliese 581 e is only 1.9 times the size of Earth — while previous planets found outside our solar system are closer to the size of massive Jupiter, which NASA says could swallow more than 1,000 Earths.

Gliese 581 e sits close to the nearest star, making it too hot to support life. Still, Mayor said its discovery in a solar system 20 1/2 light years away from Earth is a "good example that we are progressing in the detection of Earth-like planets."

Scientists also discovered that the orbit of planet Gliese 581 d, which was found in 2007, was located within the "habitable zone" — a region around a sun-like star that would allow water to be liquid on the planet's surface, Mayor said.

He spoke at a news conference Tuesday at the University of Hertfordshire during the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science.

Gliese 581 d is probably too large to be made only of rocky material, fellow astronomer and team member Stephane Udry said, adding it was possible the planet had a "large and deep" ocean.

"It is the first serious 'water-world' candidate," Udry said.

Mayor's main planet-hunting competitor, Geoff Marcy of the University of California, Berkeley, praised the find of Gliese 581 e as "the most exciting discovery" so far of exoplanets — planets outside our solar system.

"This discovery is absolutely extraordinary," Marcy told The Associated Press by e-mail, calling the discoveries a significant step in the search for Earth-like planets.

While Gliese 581 e is too hot for life "it shows that nature makes such small planets, probably in large numbers," Marcy commented. "Surely the galaxy contains tens of billions of planets like the small, Earth-mass one announced here."

Nearly 350 planets have been found outside our solar system, but so far nearly every one of them was found to be extremely unlikely to harbor life.

Most were too close or too far from their sun, making them too hot or too cold for life. Others were too big and likely to be uninhabitable gas giants like Jupiter. Those that are too small are highly difficult to detect in the first place.

Both Gliese 581 d and Gliese 581 e are located in constellation Libra and orbit around Gliese 581.

Like other planets circling that star — scientists have discovered four so far — Gliese 581 e was found using the European Southern Observatory's telescope in La Silla, Chile.

The telescope has a special instrument which splits light to find wobbles in different wavelengths. Those wobbles can reveal the existence of other worlds.

"It is great work and shows the potential of this detection method," said Lisa Kaltenegger, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

___

Associated Press Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report from Washington.
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PostWed Apr 22, 2009 9:57 am » by Drextin


I was just coming to post this article when I decided to make sure someone hadn't already done so.

If they are doing this with ground based telescopes imagine what they will find with kessler and some of the super space telescopes that will be launched in a few years.

If the planet has a large and deep ocean in a habitable zone it has life. Whether it is microscopic or more highly evolved. Even if the ocean is not water or entirely water it should support life. Liquid water in the zone the planet was found in is more likely.

Sadly we will not have the means to find this out in our time unless we get help from another race of beings. But I've come to the conclusion that waiting for that to happen is akin to christians waiting on the return of jesus........don't hold ya breath.
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PostThu Apr 23, 2009 1:15 am » by Vulcanic


drextin wrote:I was just coming to post this article when I decided to make sure someone hadn't already done so.

If they are doing this with ground based telescopes imagine what they will find with kessler and some of the super space telescopes that will be launched in a few years.

If the planet has a large and deep ocean in a habitable zone it has life. Whether it is microscopic or more highly evolved. Even if the ocean is not water or entirely water it should support life. Liquid water in the zone the planet was found in is more likely.

Sadly we will not have the means to find this out in our time unless we get help from another race of beings. But I've come to the conclusion that waiting for that to happen is akin to christians waiting on the return of jesus........don't hold ya breath.


disclose.tv has put up a story on this too.

I agree, I hate being old ,most of the mysteries here will get solved but after i'm dead lol.

I think if the people of the world could just get along and work together we could be building ships big enough to explore the unknowns in space, but to do this we would need the resources and help from all the people of the world.
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PostThu Apr 23, 2009 2:02 am » by Snake Plissken


Yeah, finding these planets is great, but we need to get up there and see these places and i dont know how we can do it.

Wouldnt it be amazing if we discovered a planet with a breathable atmosphere much like our own and actually managed to send people there?

Its a pretty exciting time to be alive right now, lots of new technology being born at the moment, i really hope that i will be alive long enough to see this happen.

If only there was another independant space agency, devoid of the paranoia and sceptism that i feel NASA generates, who have the vision to make manned space flight safer and more commonplace. :wink:
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PostFri May 01, 2009 2:42 am » by Vulcanic


Snake Plissken wrote:Yeah, finding these planets is great, but we need to get up there and see these places and i dont know how we can do it.

Wouldnt it be amazing if we discovered a planet with a breathable atmosphere much like our own and actually managed to send people there?

Its a pretty exciting time to be alive right now, lots of new technology being born at the moment, i really hope that i will be alive long enough to see this happen.

If only there was another independant space agency, devoid of the paranoia and sceptism that i feel NASA generates, who have the vision to make manned space flight safer and more commonplace. :wink:


I hear you bigtime! Gets me sad to think i will be dead by time human are walking on other worlds. :ohno:

:headscratch: but then again i look at earth and what we do to earth and i feel sorry for the 1st planet we find and rape and hope it has no animal or smaller life because we will end up killing it, i think we have alot of growing up to do before we venture to new worlds. :think:
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PostFri May 01, 2009 2:51 am » by end0fall


i knew all this already,gliese is nothing new.
my race come from there :P lol

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PostFri May 01, 2009 5:16 am » by Bink02


vulcanic wrote:
drextin wrote:I was just coming to post this article when I decided to make sure someone hadn't already done so.

If they are doing this with ground based telescopes imagine what they will find with kessler and some of the super space telescopes that will be launched in a few years.

If the planet has a large and deep ocean in a habitable zone it has life. Whether it is microscopic or more highly evolved. Even if the ocean is not water or entirely water it should support life. Liquid water in the zone the planet was found in is more likely.

Sadly we will not have the means to find this out in our time unless we get help from another race of beings. But I've come to the conclusion that waiting for that to happen is akin to christians waiting on the return of jesus........don't hold ya breath.


disclose.tv has put up a story on this too.

I agree, I hate being old ,most of the mysteries here will get solved but after i'm dead lol.

I think if the people of the world could just get along and work together we could be building ships big enough to explore the unknowns in space, but to do this we would need the resources and help from all the people of the world.


good post :flop: Yea *sigh , I'll probably be dead by then too... Man, I'd be happy if they just found a frigging microbe, before I kick the ol' bucket .... :cheers:
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