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11 new exo-planets found

By Tatarigami in News
Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 10:30:34 AM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)
Science

The European Southern Observatory in Chile has reported finding 11 new extra-solar planets, while at the same time a British astronomical team have reported finding 13 free-floating objects in the Orion Nebula (technically planets, since they mass less than 13 x Jupiter's mass).


A list of the ESO team's discoveries are here, and details of the planet they found within the estimated habitable zone of its sun are here. The planet itself is ~6 x Jupiter's mass, but it may have moons where the conditions for life could exist. The star it orbits is HD 28185, but I haven't been able to discover how far from us that is. (It's probably optimistic of me to start planning my vacation there, in any case.)

Several of these planets have even been found in solar systems with more than one sun, where conventional scientific wisdom says planets cannot form because of the conflicting gravitational fields.

It's starting to seem like you can't go anywhere in the galaxy without tripping over a large planetary body. I wonder if any of 'em are looking back at us?

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11 new exo-planets found | 11 comments (9 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
interstellar communication according to c (3.66 / 6) (#3)
by eLuddite on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 09:52:47 PM EST

I wonder if any of 'em are looking back at us?

- Hello, we are earthlings.
[generations come and go]
- #4^%@90#@
[generations come and go]

Scientists have reported deciphering the Orion Nebula response. The nation's chief planetary scientist, Joachim Martinez, has offered the following translation: "Live there often?" The parts of Cal Tech that are not submerged under water are currently being occupied by frenzied specialists working around the clock to respond in kind. This is Kent Brockman, reminding you that CNN will keep your children posted of developments as they happen.

---
God hates human rights.

we aren't alone... (3.50 / 2) (#4)
by rebelcool on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 12:08:32 AM EST

the planets we're finding, using rather crude techniques are plentiful and huge. Just imagine how many smaller ones out there there must be. And how many of those probably contain life.

It's like taking that first step outside of the nursery and seeing the big wide world.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Life out there (4.00 / 1) (#5)
by Tatarigami on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 06:30:55 AM EST

I don't see why there can't be life on the planets we've discovered. Jupiter's atmosphere has all the necessary elements for life to form, we may find some interesting things waiting for us under the cloud layers.

Arthur C Clarke thinks life could form on extremely hot or cold planets, too -- his reasoning is that chemically speaking, we aren't much more than water contaminated by long-chain molecules. In cold environments, liquid methane could take the place of water, in ultra-cold environments liquid helium could do the same, and in hot environments, it would be liquid sulphur. Not sure if long-chain molecules could form at ultra-high temperatures, but still -- expecting to find life only on Earth-like planets is a bit conservative.


[ Parent ]
Liquids other than water (4.00 / 1) (#7)
by DesiredUsername on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 09:29:20 AM EST

"...liquid methane could take the place of water, in ultra-cold environments liquid helium could do the same, and in hot environments, it would be liquid sulphur."

Trouble is, none of these are as polarized as water. The polarization of water molecules has a big effect on life. Methane is slightly polarized, helium (if I remember my chemistry) shouldn't be polarized at all. I don't know anything about liquid sulphur, but I bet it's not much better than methane.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Re: Other Liquids (5.00 / 1) (#10)
by ajduk on Wed Apr 11, 2001 at 04:46:41 AM EST

Methane is not polarised. The only candidate liquids for life, in terms of chemical properties, are Ammonia (NH3), Water (OH2), and Hydroflouric Acid (HF). Of these, HF has problems (it reacts with silicates; an ocean of it would rapidly react with the ocean bed), and ammonia, although a candidate, is less stable than water and less polarised.

Hope I'm wrong, but I expect that any life we find will be Carbon-In-Water based.

[ Parent ]
Sheesh (none / 0) (#11)
by Tatarigami on Wed Apr 11, 2001 at 04:25:38 PM EST

Hope I'm wrong, but I expect that any life we find will be Carbon-In-Water based.

Man, you have to go and rain on my parade, don't you?

:o)


[ Parent ]
A bit more inforation would be good. (2.00 / 1) (#6)
by Quix on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 06:53:48 AM EST

It could be useful to add a bit more information to the story.

eg the distance which was right there in front of you. It's 39.56 parsecs, and a parsec is 3.26 light years, so it's more than 100 light years away. Thus i don't think we'll be visiting it anytime soon.

As for the other planets they found, many of them have rather eccentric orbits (Pluto like or worse), thus I suspect you'd have interesting seasons if you visited them.

Enough said.


"Enough said"? (3.00 / 1) (#8)
by DesiredUsername on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 10:52:09 AM EST

Why is this "enough said"? The only interpretation I can put to your words is "so there's no life-as-we-know-it there." But we already knew that. To detect these planets, they have be large enough to significantly affect the star they orbit. A planet that large won't host life-as-we-know-it.

The reason this is interesting is that it gives us datapoints on how prevalent planet-formation is, which in turn can lead to better estimations on how prevalent life may be.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
If they are looking at a pale blue dot (3.00 / 1) (#9)
by exa on Tue Apr 10, 2001 at 05:50:50 AM EST

Perhaps they are thinking about the same questions, whether life springs in many systems throughout the galaxy and intelligent creatures dwell on other worlds.
__
exa a.k.a Eray Ozkural
There is no perfect circle.

11 new exo-planets found | 11 comments (9 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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