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3 Habitable-Zone Super-Earths Found Orbiting Nearby Star

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the see-how-the-orbit,-see-how-they-orbit dept.

Space 203

astroengine writes "Gliese 667C is a well-studied star lying only 22 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Scorpius, but it appears to have been hiding a pretty significant secret. The star has at least six exoplanets in orbit, three of which orbit within the star's "habitable zone" — the region surrounding a star that's not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to exist on their surfaces. Astronomers already knew that Gliese 667C had three worlds in orbit, one in the star's habitable zone, but the finding of three more exoplanets, two of which are also in the habitable zone is a huge discovery. Finding one small planet in a star's habitable zone is exciting, but finding three is historic. 'The number of potentially habitable planets in our galaxy is much greater if we can expect to find several of them around each low-mass star — instead of looking at ten stars to look for a single potentially habitable planet, we now know we can look at just one star and find several of them,' said Rory Barnes, of the University of Washington, co-author of the study, in an ESO press release Tuesday (June 25)."

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203 comments

Launch exploratory robots ASAP! (2, Funny)

dunsel (559042) | about a year ago | (#44103815)

I'd like to get more information about these worlds before I die. Also, I'd like to know if I would really get my own planet if I went "Full Mormon" so I can prepare accordingly.

Re:Launch exploratory robots ASAP! (5, Informative)

thue (121682) | about a year ago | (#44103871)

Only 22 light years away! If you go at the same speed as voyager 1, then it will only take 382122 years to get there!

Re:Launch exploratory robots ASAP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104223)

Why that's only 5307 Lorne Greenes!

Re:Launch exploratory robots ASAP! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104601)

Or use a better propulsion and enjoy the slower aging of high speed travel.

Re:Launch exploratory robots ASAP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104677)

You don't age slower. You just arrive faster. From the point of view of the ship, it could travel faster than speed of light. But from outside, it will not and it will age less.

Time, funny thing.

Anyway, to get relativistic effects, we would need much better propulsion than anything we have thought of so far. Science fiction for now.

Re:Launch exploratory robots ASAP! (2)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44105093)

From the point of view of the ship, it could travel faster than speed of light

No from the point of view of the ship once you are going fast the other planet isn't very far away so it shouldn't take long to get there.

Me too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103877)

Me full Mormon planet too, lol.

Re:Launch exploratory robots ASAP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104009)

If you'd like to know more about these worlds before you die, then we should be launching a specialized telescope, not exploratory robots.

Re:Launch exploratory robots ASAP! (1)

tgd (2822) | about a year ago | (#44104147)

If you'd like to know more about these worlds before you die, then we should be launching a specialized telescope, not exploratory robots.

Or investing in either cryogenics or machine digitization of human consciousness.

Because without one of the two, its just plain not going to happen.

Re:Launch exploratory robots ASAP! (1)

Earthquake Retrofit (1372207) | about a year ago | (#44104571)

Or investing in either cryogenics or machine digitization of human consciousness.

Because without one of the two, its just plain not going to happen.

If it's any comfort to you. I'm working on the second.

Re:Launch exploratory robots ASAP! (3, Insightful)

sabri (584428) | about a year ago | (#44104983)

Or investing in either cryogenics or machine digitization of human consciousness. Because without one of the two, its just plain not going to happen.

Zefram Cochrane disagrees with you... :)

Re:Launch exploratory robots ASAP! (1)

JakeBurn (2731457) | about a year ago | (#44105217)

How would digitization of human consciousness help someone know what's going to happen 328,000 years from now? Its the same as a robot but with a dead human's personality. Cryogenics, like you said, or some other form of stasis is about the only way any human will see something outside our solar system for the next dozen generations or more.

Re:Launch exploratory robots ASAP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104035)

I didn't realize exploratory robots could travel there and back in your lifetime. Will you be living ~800,000 more years then?

Re:Launch exploratory robots ASAP! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104205)

sure hope so, down to half a pack a day and just a six pack on the weekends. stopped eating eggs, bought a yoga tape. 800,000 years shouldn't be a problem, especially now we done gots us some obamacare!

Re:Launch exploratory robots ASAP! (1, Funny)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about a year ago | (#44104123)

I'd like to get more information about these worlds before I die. Also, I'd like to know if I would really get my own planet if I went "Full Mormon" so I can prepare accordingly.

I too have questions. I need to know if high speed internet is available (tcp over warp?)...
although with a bunch of wives I could just stage my own girl on girl action...

Re:Launch exploratory robots ASAP! (2, Funny)

rvw (755107) | about a year ago | (#44105097)

I'd like to get more information about these worlds before I die. Also, I'd like to know if I would really get my own planet if I went "Full Mormon" so I can prepare accordingly.

I too have questions. I need to know if high speed internet is available (tcp over warp?)...
although with a bunch of wives I could just stage my own granny on granny action...

FTFY!

Re:Launch exploratory robots ASAP! (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#44104409)

I don't know about that, last time we sent a signal that way it ended up with a transformers ripoff [imdb.com] and we certainly don't want that to happen again.

"Nearby star" (-1, Troll)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44103843)

That's funny as hell...

Re:"Nearby star" (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#44103921)

Everything is relative. 22 light years, ludicrously far away in every day terms, is a hop skip and a jump in astronomical terms.

Re:"Nearby star" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104831)

267,709 [tripod.com]

Re:"Nearby star" (5, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44103945)

That's funny as hell...

Why so? In context of just how freakin' big a galaxy or the entire universe is, 22 light years is pretty damned close. The Milky-way alone is > 100,000 light years across.

Not even 25 years ago the prevailing belief was that there wouldn't be that many stars with planets, and now we're finding them pretty much constantly.

One of the terms of Drake's equation is how many stars have planets, and that proportion has been steadily climbing.

So if we're finding this many planets in an astronomically-relative 'nearby', then throughout the rest of the galaxy we have to assume there's just vast amounts of them. Start factoring in the sheer number of galaxies, and even if we'll never meet them, it seems probable that somewhere else would likely have evolved life by now.

Re:"Nearby star" (0, Troll)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#44104293)

Not even 25 years ago the prevailing belief was that there wouldn't be that many stars with planets

Was it?

Re:"Nearby star" (1, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44104325)

Right now it doesn't matter if it were 1.5 light seconds away. We can't get there. It may as well be in another universe. By the time we can conveniently travel that far, the whole concept of distance will be meaningless. For the sake of argument, yes, 22 light years is closer than 13 billion, but for now, in practical terms, the distance is infinite. If you already bought your ticket, I would suggest you ask for a refund.

Re:"Nearby star" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104457)

Well, we have already proven we can get 1.3 light seconds away, land and return.

Re:"Nearby star" (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104519)

Bullshit, you didn't even get your numbers right with that hyperbole. Orders of magnitude are tough, but not entirely unworkable.

Mars is 22 light MINUTES away, and we can get there reasonable well if we had a mind to.

If you can get up to a decent fraction of the speed of light, energetically very expensive I'll grant you, a ship could get to one of these worlds in 100 years or so. That's a long time, but it's not so long as to be considered infinite or unworkable. If you take the point of view that's it pointless to consider how far our grasp can extend, of course we'll never get there.

Re:"Nearby star" (1)

BaronAaron (658646) | about a year ago | (#44104527)

Right now it doesn't matter if it were 1.5 light seconds away. We can't get there. It may as well be in another universe.

1.5 light seconds is roughly the distance to the moon. If we had another Earth like planet that close (assuming a somehow stable orbit and ignoring geological and evolutionary impact) you could be vacationing there right now.

Re:"Nearby star" (1)

IANAAC (692242) | about a year ago | (#44104705)

1.5 light seconds is roughly the distance to the moon.

And when was the last time we had humans on the moon? Distance doesn't matter all that much when we don't care enough to continue exploration of what's already reachable.

Re:"Nearby star" (2)

Patch86 (1465427) | about a year ago | (#44105257)

There are no humans on the Moon because there's nothing to do on the Moon. There are only so many kilos of regloith you can ferry back and rounds of low gravity golf you can play before there's no point spending the billions to go back. If and when someone thinks up a useful reason to go back to the moon (e.g., a way station for missions to further afield) then I'm sure we'll be back.

If the Moon were an Earth-like world, I'm sure there would be a McDonalds serving Moon Burgers up there by now.

Re:"Nearby star" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104555)

Errr. Yes it does. 1.2 light seconds is closer than the moon - so we could get there.

Re:"Nearby star" (1)

Kypt (977978) | about a year ago | (#44104561)

I don't know...1 light second is 186 282 miles which isn't THAT far

Re:"Nearby star" (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44104587)

Right now it doesn't matter if it were 1.5 light seconds away. We can't get there.

Ummm, the moon is 1.5 light seconds [ucsd.edu] away, and Mars is 4 light minutes away. We can, and have, send stuff to both of those, so 1.5 light seconds isn't this intractable distance you think it is ... if you were walking it would essentially be infinitely far away. But with rockets from the 60's it was more like a few days.

I'm not suggesting we're going to reach these any time soon, but you have to remember that relative to the scales we're talking about, 22 light years in astronomical terms is a very close distance.

I haven't bought a ticket, but you need to re-think your concept of what is 'infinite' and what kind of distances are truly insurmountable.

Re:"Nearby star" (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44105287)

The 'insurmountable' doesn't exist. The impractical is a little different. And to me, without faster than light travel, dragging our meat bags around to 'nearby stars' does not seem practical. I will grant that only greed and politics prevent regular service to the moon, it is they that make it seem as distant as an extrasolar planet.

Re:"Nearby star" (4, Insightful)

isorox (205688) | about a year ago | (#44104639)

Right now it doesn't matter if it were 1.5 light seconds away. We can't get there. It may as well be in another universe. By the time we can conveniently travel that far, the whole concept of distance will be meaningless. For the sake of argument, yes, 22 light years is closer than 13 billion, but for now, in practical terms, the distance is infinite. If you already bought your ticket, I would suggest you ask for a refund.

22 years means you can send a message and get a response in your lifetime.

Re:"Nearby star" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44105267)

Assuming they have SETI, right?

Re:"Nearby star" (3, Interesting)

grep_rocks (1182831) | about a year ago | (#44104489)

I think in the context of the Fermi Paradox finding lots of habitable planets is _bad_ news because it invites the question "so where the hell is all the intelligent life on all these habitable planets" the aswers to that question indicate a term in the drake equation is close to zero, hopefully it isn't the term that indicates the length of time a technological civilization exists....

Re:"Nearby star" (2)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year ago | (#44104841)

The Fermi Paradoxon is no paradoxon.

The most evil sin all over the universe is: man made self replicating machines.

No sane race ever will do that: crafting self replicating machines and letting them lose on the universe.

In the time spans we are talking about: all things you could imagine will go wrong with "replicators". You don't need to read SF to grasp that. At Fermis times no one really thought that out. So his idea is sticking Round as "paradoxon".

Would YOU with all the SFs you have seen support a "self replicating" machine being send to another star system? Just to multiply there and go on?

Re:"Nearby star" (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#44105043)

I think in the context of the Fermi Paradox finding lots of habitable planets is _bad_ news because it invites the question "so where the hell is all the intelligent life on all these habitable planets"

Obviously you're unaware of Oliver's Solution to the Fermi Paradox: They discovered reality tv. Then civilization collapsed.

Re:"Nearby star" (1)

Beardmonster (1346161) | about a year ago | (#44104531)

It's great news that so many planets are found, and obviously the chances of extra-terrestrial life are higher if there are more planets, but saying that such life is "probable" is pure speculation. We still need to know under what circumstances life can start and how likely it is to get going given the right circumstances to calculate the odds. Until then any guess is just a hunch. No matter how many planets there are, it's still possible that the odds against life is greater.

Re:"Nearby star" (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#44103953)

"nearby" is relative. At 80 miles, the beach is nearby relative to, say Germany. But I still wouldn't want to walk there.

Re:"Nearby star" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104335)

But that is the good thing about space travel. You can't walk.

Re:"Nearby star" (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#44104745)

But even in space "nearby" is relative. We can reach Mars in a reasonable amount of time, using technology that's the space equivalent of "walking". Reaching even the nearest star is a whole 'nother story. Something else needs to be invented in order to achieve that. Or as someone smarter than I once said:

“Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.”

(Well, who did you *think* I was going to quote??)

Re:"Nearby star" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104215)

After launch, if there was a method to constantly accelerate then decelerate an exploratory robot around 1g, it would take about a year to approximate the speed of light and another to stop. Without any screw ups, the transmissions of its observations of the planets would be received within 50 years. Still not close. Just sayin'.

"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103851)

22 light-years from Earth means that we can't really consider moving there...

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (3, Insightful)

dadelbunts (1727498) | about a year ago | (#44103923)

Maybe not today. But 22 light years is pretty close in galactit terms. Even at half the speed of light you can get there in less than a lifetime. Technology tends to advance forward you know. 150 years ago the thought of getting from N.Y to London in 8 hours was the stuff of fantasy. Today its an everyday thing.

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104007)

But 22 light years is pretty close in galactit terms.

You made a huge boob in your post.

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (4, Funny)

julesh (229690) | about a year ago | (#44104497)

But 22 light years is pretty close in galactit terms.

You made a huge boob in your post.

A Freudian nipple-slip, I suspect.

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (5, Interesting)

tragedy (27079) | about a year ago | (#44104143)

150 years ago the thought of getting from N.Y to London in 8 hours was the stuff of fantasy. Today its an everyday thing.

Yeah, but 11 years ago getting from NY to London in less than 4 hours was an everyday thing (if pricier than other flights). Now it's unheard of. The only planes in service that have the speed and range don't regularly make that kind of trip and they don't take passengers. Modern enthusiasm for advances in technology seems to be limited mostly to whatever the latest smartphone is. Also, the people clamouring for those more advanced smartphones also typically have no clue whatsoever about the actual tech specs of them and are typically just being led around by the nose by marketing. Some of us are very pessimistic about the future of real technological development, at least in the short term.

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (3, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | about a year ago | (#44104557)

Technology has always advanced in fits and starts. That enthusiasm for a particular field has waned and our achievements in it have regressed does not mean it will not begin advancing again.

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104885)

I personally believe the industrial revolution is over, or at the very least strongly waning and that we'll see much less "game changer" type inventions in the coming decades. The next greatest cell phone just doesn't compete to going from horse and buggy to automobile. I have hopes that 3d printing will have some pretty amazing economical effects once you can order blue-prints from amazon and have your widget made in minutes.. but I have my doubts that we'll see anything really game changing in the future of technology. I hope I'm wrong.

Sure, we only need to move people 1.3M x faster (1)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | about a year ago | (#44104227)

It took us 200 years to increase normal-ish transport speeds from 5mph to 500mph. (Though bulk transport is still more like 30mph.)

We've got a LOT of technology to develop if we want to increase normal-ish transport speeds from 500mph to 1/2 light speed.

It's just about a million times faster than current tech. Even if you assume we get 100x speedup every 200 years, that's another 600 years of tech, though of course I concede that development doesn't need to be 100x every 200 years.

Making this even worse is the fact that energy required (nonrelativistic) goes as v^2. So we need ~10^12 as much energy to move stuff at 1/2 light speed (actually worse due to the relativistic factor.)

Your confidence in technology is nice, but I for one find the numbers involved downright sobering.

--PM

Re:Sure, we only need to move people 1.3M x faster (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44105157)

It goes up v^2 because of friction. Not such a huge problem in space. The cost is likely to be linear once we escape from earth's gravity with materials.

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104261)

Oh of course. I assume we'll go from jet planes (800KM/H) to half the speed of light (500000000KM/H) in the same amount of time we went from 8KM/H to 800KM/H.

Right?

As long as we're making stuff up and wishing and not actually talking about anything that's ever going to be practical, I propose we go at 3/4s the speed of light instead.

I think my daydream is better than your fantasy.

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104321)

Maybe not today. But 22 light years is pretty close in galactit terms. Even at half the speed of light you can get there in less than a lifetime. Technology tends to advance forward you know. 150 years ago the thought of getting from N.Y to London in 8 hours was the stuff of fantasy. Today its an everyday thing.

at 1079252849 km per hour (speed of light) = 22 years.
at half the speed of light = 44 years.
at 50000 km per hour (current top speed achieved in space by humans - o.k., no citation!) = ... too many lifetimes!

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year ago | (#44104333)

"Even" at 0.5C? You'll need to travel closer to light speed and be able to accelerate at a pretty spanky rate to average that speed. Getting a manned ship to 0.1C with a reasonable acceleration might be hard but doable with next-century tech, but anything more is rather far fetched unless there is some fundamental breakthrough in energy generation, propulsion or physics in general (warp drives or wormholes). Hey, I'm hoping to see this happen just as much as the next guy, but it's not looking good.

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103951)

Actually, it really does. If you're looking for a star such that a space shuttle can fly there in a week or two, I have some surprising news for you. If you're looking for a star that's conceivably reachable by a generation ship, this is it.

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104019)

Actually, it really does. If you're looking for a star such that a space shuttle can fly there in a week or two, I have some surprising news for you. If you're looking for a star that's conceivably reachable by a generation ship, this is it.

This. Lob a few probes at 0.05-0.1c and get there in 200-500 years. Robots + frozen embryos + artificial womb = GECK. Decant a few sprog 20 years away from destination and let the robots teach 'em. Each colony does the lather, rinse, repeat thing every 1000-2000 years, and slowly spread pockets of sentience across the galaxy. The tech isn't there yet, but we're probably less than 100 years away from filling the required technological gaps.

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (2, Insightful)

tragedy (27079) | about a year ago | (#44104491)

The problem is, we don't even have space shuttles any more. We're technologically regressing as far as air and space go. Still, if we ever manage to get our act together well enough to actually build something like a generation ship, 22 light years away is pretty close, relatively speaking.

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (2)

odigity (266563) | about a year ago | (#44104989)

That's true if you think the government's "space program" is the measure of human progress. That's what you get for pinning your hopes and dreams to a bureaucracy funded by money stolen from people at gun-point.

The private space industry, on the other hand, is growing and succeeding at quite an optimistic rate, relative to what most people though was possible 10-15 years ago.

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year ago | (#44103965)

Yeah, but if we send a radio message now there is a good 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000001% chance an intelligent civilization that has developed on one of those planets will get it and we will have a response 44 years later. We should therefore earmark billions of dollars for this work and get right on it!

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104133)

I'd suspect that the odds are much better than that. If both of us selected an individual molecule out of the entire local group, the odds are better than 1e-38 that we selected the same one.

Re: "lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104207)

Do you mean "invasion fleet 22 years later"?

Re: "lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (1)

l0n3s0m3phr34k (2613107) | about a year ago | (#44105271)

PKD beat you to that...the 1953 short-story Imposter, and the 2001 movie of the same name! They where from Alpha Centauri, but still...

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a year ago | (#44104219)

You've made a serious mathematical or other error in your calculation - wow. It's not a 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000001%, it's actually a 0.000000000000000000000000000000000001% chance!! Maybe you miscounted the number of intelligent civilizations?

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104235)

SETI Funding [wikipedia.org]

Contrary to popular belief, no government funds are allocated for its SETI searches

Granted, they may receive funding for other things, but not for the searches. Please, please, please. If you're going to babble about earmarks and costs and basically make up numbers, can you please at least tie it to something that has to do with the topic or even your own point? You do your arguments no justice when your points are not only off-topic but are fundamentally meaningless.

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#44103973)

It would take a leap in some branch of technology, true. (Perhaps several.)

Re:"lying ONLY 22 light-years from Earth"...! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103983)

yet.

Firefly (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#44103939)

I'm still waiting for us to find the five-star system from Firefly. We could use dozens of plants and hundreds of moons to terraform.

Re:Firefly (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103989)

Maybe someone can start by successfully terraforming Detroit

Re:Firefly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104013)

I can't wait to terraform my own gorram moon!

Scorpius? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44103961)

I think I will be avoiding the peacekeepers thanks.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103967)

'The number of potentially habitable planets in our galaxy is much greater if we can expect to find several of them around each low-mass star — instead of looking at ten stars to look for a single potentially habitable planet, we now know we can look at just one star and find several of them,' said Rory Barnes, of the University of Washington, co-author of the study

While seemingly true, this statement is misleading. Having found 3 habitable planets around a single star, it does not follow that all stars have 3 habitable planets. Or even that any other star has 3 habitable planets. I really hope this was just a statement made out of context...otherwise...it just makes me sad.

Re:Really? (1)

tragedy (27079) | about a year ago | (#44104567)

While seemingly true, this statement is misleading. Having found 3 habitable planets around a single star, it does not follow that all stars have 3 habitable planets. Or even that any other star has 3 habitable planets. I really hope this was just a statement made out of context...otherwise...it just makes me sad.

The point is that planets in the habitable zone are clearly not so rare (either that or we've gotten really, really lucky looking for them). I agree that it does not follow that all stars have three habitable planets. However it does make the odds vanishingly small that no other star has three habitable zone planets.

Re:Really? (2)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year ago | (#44104889)

The solar system called "Sol" also has three planets in the habitable zone. Besides Earth a second one, Mars, was likely once habitable. Venus for some reason got a veyr dense very CO2 heavy atmosphere. With less CO2 it likely would harbor life.

Have this methods actually been checked? (4, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#44104045)

There are many exoplanet claims with both the transit method and the Doppler method. What I'd like to see is use them in the same systems to see whether they yield the same results. Right now, these are only predictions, not discoveries, and they are hard to verify.

Re:Have this methods actually been checked? (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year ago | (#44104057)

we can check them as soon as the Vulcans give us the warp drive.

Re:Have this methods actually been checked? (5, Funny)

FingerDemon (638040) | about a year ago | (#44104185)

They didn't give it to us, they waited to contact us until we had it. Turn in your nerd card.

Re:Have this methods actually been checked? (4, Funny)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a year ago | (#44104237)

we can check them as soon as the Vulcans give us the warp drive.

Dude this is a serious discussion and you're bringing up a FANTASY!! The Vulcans won't give us warp drive - we have to invent it on our own before they show themselves.

Re:Have this methods actually been checked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104395)

The Vulcans wouldn't give us warp drive. They only contact species that already have warp drive.

Re:Have this methods actually been checked? (2)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year ago | (#44104725)

If a system can be checked with the transit AND the doppler method, you can be asured they use both. However 90% of the systems where you can use the doppler method can not be examined via the transit method. (Wrong angle of the eclipse)
They are discoveries. Just because you don't grasp the science makes them not "just predictions".

Red Dwarfs (2)

Omegaman (703) | about a year ago | (#44104079)

One problem that has not be determined is how do planets deal with the inherent variability with Red Dwarf stars. There are many, many more red dwarfs than other types of stars and their expected life expectancy is longer the estimated end of the universe. But their small nature makes their energy output more variable than a star like our sun.
Does the long life, and greater number of Red Dwarfs significantly boost the drake equation? Does the variable energy output reduce the drake equation?

Unfortunately, we will all probably be long dead before we find out.

Re:Red Dwarfs (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#44104145)

Unfortunately, we will all probably be long dead before we find out.

Don't be a smeg head

Re:Red Dwarfs (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#44104985)

the inherent variability with Red Dwarf stars

I was going to say: Lister, Rimmer, and Cat were the same stars throughout the series. Only Kochanski and Kryten really changed.

Re:Red Dwarfs (2)

tgd (2822) | about a year ago | (#44104171)

There are many, many more red dwarfs than other types of stars and their expected life expectancy is longer the estimated end of the universe.

I'm not sure "end" means what you think it means.

Re:Red Dwarfs (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44104357)

One problem that has not be determined is how do planets deal with the inherent variability with Red Dwarf stars.

What problem? The planets don't care one bit.

Does the long life, and greater number of Red Dwarfs significantly boost the drake equation? Does the variable energy output reduce the drake equation?

It's all rather academic, since plausible values for the DE cover such a wide range that you can reasonably make it come out with pretty much any answer you want. AIUI it was never really meant to put to practical use, and is more of a contemplative notion.

Irresponsible research (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104231)

I'm a BIG, HUGE fan of all things space-related, but researching to find Earth-like inhabitable planets is only a political speech away from greenlighting all types of environmentally-destructive economic activities, since "we'll all move off this rock someday anyway."

Stupid Question of the day! (4, Interesting)

Xaedalus (1192463) | about a year ago | (#44104265)

There's plenty of data both pro and con about sending a probe to explore and the timeline necessary. Has anyone ever thought about seeing if perhaps another race has sent a probe at us? And if so, how would we spot it?

Re:Stupid Question of the day! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104471)

There's plenty of data both pro and con about sending a probe to explore and the timeline necessary. Has anyone ever thought about seeing if perhaps another race has sent a probe at us? And if so, how would we spot it?

your ass would hurt... duh.

Re:Stupid Question of the day! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104511)

Check Uranus!

Re:Stupid Question of the day! (3, Insightful)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year ago | (#44104543)

perhaps another race has sent a probe at us? And if so, how would we spot it?

Most likely the probe would contain simple life forms which would try to blend in with society by assuming places of privileged power. The kind of power to pass legislation or create policies to give them better leverage over the populace as a whole.

It would not be difficult to spot, however it would be difficult to extricate them once they become resident as they would almost certainly ascertain some control over local and national media in order to sway public opinion in places where rhetoric and ignorance can easily give them political footholds in which to extend their residence.

Re:Stupid Question of the day! (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44104661)

But we could always check their birth certificate.

Re:Stupid Question of the day! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104969)

hmmm, I thought he was obviously referring to certain politicians who appear totally unfamiliar with the operation of the human female reproductive system. Aliens, every last one of them. Except that guy, he's just a nerd.

Re:Stupid Question of the day! (2)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#44104779)

A probe would probably be meant for observation, not communication since it's so much easier to just boost the signal if there's someone answering at the other end. I think we'd already know if there was a probe in orbit, if it's in transit or just doing a fly-by it'd be a silent black speck of dust we'd have no chance of detecting.

Re:Stupid Question of the day! (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#44104821)

If it's here and it wants to be spotted it would have announced itself by now. If it doesn't want to be spotted we don't have any realistic hope of spotting it. Keep in mind, anyone out there with routine interstellar travel of any kind, even just with automated drones, is more than likely to be hundreds or at least tens of thousands of years ahead of us technologically.

That said, it's always possible that the machinery only wakes up every so often. If it only sticks it head out to look around every 10000 years or so it might have missed us last time (or we might still be below it's detection threshold but I find that hard to believe personally). So, we could examine the asteroid belts, and the trojan asteroids around the gas giants, looking for things that give off an anomalous amount of heat or have a higher than expected metal content. Logically any plan to explore the galaxy is going to rely on something like von Nueman probes; that is to say probes that get to their destination and build a few hundred copies of themselves to send to the next start system (and to provide redundancy in this one).

All three planets are probably tidally locked (3, Interesting)

Xerxes314 (585536) | about a year ago | (#44104863)

I'm not sure what difference this makes to the actual habitability of the planets, but all of these are tidally locked. That is, the same part of the planet is always facing the star (and thus baked) while the same part faces empty space (and thus freezes). A thick atmosphere might transport heat and make things more uniform, but none of these are what one would naively think of as "habitable". In fact, all planets in the "habitable" zone of such small stars are going to be tidally locked. Wikipedia actually has a nice summary of the problem of tidal locking in small stars [wikipedia.org] .

On the other hand, they might have very interesting moons.

Alpha Centauri (0)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about a year ago | (#44104979)

and its sister stars are only 4 LY away. One would think we'd have gone over them with a fine tooth comb and all we've found is 1 molten hell hole around Cb. Why? Wouldn't even a smallish planet be a lot more visible around AC, Cb, or pC than some galaxy 13.6 billion LY away?

Re:Alpha Centauri (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44105223)

Checking out Alpha Centauri isn't that easy. In a multi-star system, it's tricker to sort out wobbles that might be induced by planets from the very clear ones produced by the other stars. Techniques of exoplanet detection are sensitive to the masses and orbits of said exoplanets, in particular of the inclination of those orbits relative to us (inclied more that a few degrees and the planet never eclipses the star, a few more than that and spectroscopic velocity shifts aren't detectable either.)

That said, we're pretty sure that Alpha Centauri B has at least one largish planet orbiting well inside (ie hotter than) B's hab zone.

(Also, your terminology is wrong. Multiple stars use upper case letters, planets lower case. Thus the suspected planet around Alpha Centauri B is alpha Cen Bb.)

"Habitable" (1)

ildon (413912) | about a year ago | (#44105007)

I feel like this submission title has greatly lowered the bar for "habitable."

We can't get there, but should try talking (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44105265)

We're finding enough potentially habitable exoplanets that it's worth sending messages to them. Some might have a civilization. It's time for SETI to start transmitting.

This is quite possible. Arecebo could communicate with a similar installation across the galaxy.

This is great news but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44105277)

I'm excited about the news of habitable planets being more common-place in our galaxy (and probably the universe) than previously thought. The thing is, WHEN are you people going to stop this big bang and evolution nonsense ? Every time scientists discover that the potential for life is greater in greater, you do realize that they're also proving that creationism is more and more likely than evolution. The reason is that, the more habitable planets that exist, the more I question WHY we haven't seen any visitors yet or seen any evidence of their existence? We can't get to them but, if our universe is most likely teaming with life, I would think we would have made contact by now.

The reality is that God created life ON EARTH.

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