715 New Planets Discovered, Strengthen Case for Earth-Like Planets

715 New Planets Discovered, Strengthen Case for Earth-Like Planets

Data from NASA's defunct Kepler spacecraft reveals 715 new planets outside of our solar system, strengthening the case that Earth-like planets appear to be commonplace in the universe.

NASA's Kepler spacecraft ended its planet-hunting mission in May 2013 after suffering a mechanical failure, but that hasn't stopped its legacy from continuing to make headlines. Using data that Kepler collected in 2009 and 2011, astronomers Jack Lissauer and Jason Rowe of NASA and SETI, respectively, have confirmed the existence of 715 previously-unknown extrasolar planets.

In two papers published in the Astrophysical Journal, Lissauer and Rowe detail the 715 planets, which include four planets in the habitable zone of their stars - the region also known as the "Goldilocks zone," because it is neither too hot nor too cold for water to exist in liquid form.

"These new results continue to strengthen the case that Earth-like planets appear to be commonplace in our Universe, even if they remain devilishly difficult to discover and characterize," says planet hunter Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC, who was not part of the studies.

The 715 planets are distributed among 305 multiplanetary systems that feature orbits similar to compact versions of those from our Solar System. Many of the extrasolar planets are larger than Earth - the four found in the Goldilocks zone are roughly twice the size of our planet - but that can be attributed to the fact that it is easier to detect larger planets.

Source: Nature

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"go team Human!" ?

here's hoping we're ahead of the curve...

_

cool stuff indeed.

It's really just a numbers game. There are quite a few elements which make earth ready for the abundant life contained therein. The distance from the Sun is just right so water stays liquid at the surface but is cool enough that it doesn't boil. The 24 hour rotation is perfect for a few reasons. First is that the day and night cycles are short enough that the surface is not prone to extreme daily temperatures changes, but slow enough that we are not plagued by constant and turbulent storms. Really, it's just statistics, and given the number of stars in the known galaxy, there has to be more planets out there that fit the same descriptions I just rattled off. Those points are relatively simple. The more complex ones are things like an atmosphere that is similar to our own. Back in '53, Miller and Urey showed how organic molecules could spontaneously be produced from inorganic with the right conditions. That requires the right atmosphere and the correct amount of heat and pressure. But still, the shear number of stars in the sky, it's just extremely unlikely that we are the sole world in all the cosmos with life on it, though life may not be common.

Listen.

All I want is a Star Wars universe out there. Give me a little green dude that allows me to use little bacteria into my cells to allow me to lift things.

I do NOT want a Mass Effect universe. I was no where near Eezo, so I have no powers then. That ship has sailed.

Also? Lightsabers rock.

Too bad we still lack the tech to actually go to these planets right now(in a reasonable timeframe).

ObsidianJones:
Listen.

All I want is a Star Wars universe out there. Give me a little green dude that allows me to use little bacteria into my cells to allow me to lift things.

I do NOT want a Mass Effect universe. I was no where near Eezo, so I have no powers then. That ship has sailed.

Also? Lightsabers rock.

I'm expecting it to be more like Farscape to be honest. As wacky as that galaxy got, there was something supremely levelheaded about it compared to most sci-fi.

So, four planets out of 715 have the capacity for liquid water. Not exactly 'commonplace', and it's especially unlikely that we'll find complex life on them, unless complex life is really, really common in watery environments.

Daaaah Whoosh:
So, four planets out of 715 have the capacity for liquid water. Not exactly 'commonplace', and it's especially unlikely that we'll find complex life on them, unless complex life is really, really common in watery environments.

That depends on how you define 'commonplace' - it's still 0.6%, which makes it 6000 in a million, 6 million in a billion. Considering there are billions of stars in our galaxy, each with potentially several planets attached to it, the *statistical* case is clear.

HOWEVER - this is not entirely how statistics work, for one thing, and may even be fairly irrelevant in any case. Even if a planet is in the habitable zone, it might still well be a boiling clump of hot stone, or a ball of corrosive gas, or simply a dead rock - all of which is not exactly conducive to the development of life.

Not trying to be a buzzkill here - in fact I'm pretty sure that logic would dictate there to be something else out there - but I always take anything SETI is involved in with a grain of salt, considering they - like most organizations - need to report successes on occasion to keep the funding coming in.

Signa:

ObsidianJones:
Listen.

All I want is a Star Wars universe out there. Give me a little green dude that allows me to use little bacteria into my cells to allow me to lift things.

I do NOT want a Mass Effect universe. I was no where near Eezo, so I have no powers then. That ship has sailed.

Also? Lightsabers rock.

I'm expecting it to be more like Farscape to be honest. As wacky as that galaxy got, there was something supremely levelheaded about it compared to most sci-fi.

Oh, you're completely correct. That is far more likely.

However... I wants my alien taught powers, ya dig?

I think that we're going to be the alien invaders in this scenario, actually. With all our probes and long-reaching telescopes, I'm actually a bit surprised that - despite it being a really big universe - there hasn't been any artificial construct seen going to and from anywhere. We've got the only car on the highway. Granted, it's a Volvo, but it's getting us there. If we find something with life on it, I think WE are going to be the advanced ones.

Just let us meet new, friendly life out there, PLEASE... I want to see worlds I can't even comprehend, I want to meet people with a fascinating culture, see sights that Earth cannot offer, and I want to be fortunate enough to meet them in this lifetime.

On my pettier side, I want to see some humans throwing fits when we discover alien life; xenophobes who throw temper tantrums at humanity's partnership with aliens, or "bible humpers" who start complaining because the bible has a single passage that slightly IMPLIES that humanity is alone in the universe. I just like seeing stupid, backwards-thinking people throw hissy fits, I guess. It's a bit mean, yeah, but to me, it's satisfying.

HeWhoFightsBosses:
I just like seeing stupid, backwards-thinking people throw hissy fits, I guess. It's a bit mean, yeah, but to me, it's satisfying.

I'm pretty sure you can satisfy that craving simply by browsing the Internet. You could always watch blogs belonging to Breatharians to see how long they go before giving up, cheating, or starving to death. That's a crowd that will always have a hard meeting with reality at some point, yet is somehow always replenished by people who have more optimism than sense.

OT: Exciting times indeed. It's beginning to sound like we might have solid evidence for life outside the solar system in my lifetime.

And not even any comments on how funding space exploration is a waste yet. It is a good day.

 

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