Goldilocks, the planet, not the Kings-X song

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Phalex, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I thought this was pretty cool:

    WASHINGTON – Astronomers say they have for the first time spotted a planet beyond our own in what is sometimes called the Goldilocks zone for life: Not too hot, not too cold. Juuuust right.

    Not too far from its star, not too close. So it could contain liquid water. The planet itself is neither too big nor too small for the proper surface, gravity and atmosphere.

    It's just right. Just like Earth.

    "This really is the first Goldilocks planet," said co-discoverer R. Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

    The new planet sits smack in the middle of what astronomers refer to as the habitable zone, unlike any of the nearly 500 other planets astronomers have found outside our solar system. And it is in our galactic neighborhood, suggesting that plenty of Earth-like planets circle other stars.

    Finding a planet that could potentially support life is a major step toward answering the timeless question: Are we alone?

    Scientists have jumped the gun before on proclaiming that planets outside our solar system were habitable only to have them turn out to be not quite so conducive to life. But this one is so clearly in the right zone that five outside astronomers told The Associated Press it seems to be the real thing.

    "This is the first one I'm truly excited about," said Penn State University's Jim Kasting. He said this planet is a "pretty prime candidate" for harboring life.

    Life on other planets doesn't mean E.T. Even a simple single-cell bacteria or the equivalent of shower mold would shake perceptions about the uniqueness of life on Earth.

    But there are still many unanswered questions about this strange planet. It is about three times the mass of Earth, slightly larger in width and much closer to its star — 14 million miles away versus 93 million. It's so close to its version of the sun that it orbits every 37 days. And it doesn't rotate much, so one side is almost always bright, the other dark.

    Temperatures can be as hot as 160 degrees or as frigid as 25 degrees below zero, but in between — in the land of constant sunrise — it would be "shirt-sleeve weather," said co-discoverer Steven Vogt of the University of California at Santa Cruz.

    It's unknown whether water actually exists on the planet, and what kind of atmosphere it has. But because conditions are ideal for liquid water, and because there always seems to be life on Earth where there is water, Vogt believes "that chances for life on this planet are 100 percent."

    The astronomers' findings are being published in Astrophysical Journal and were announced by the National Science Foundation on Wednesday.

    The planet circles a star called Gliese 581. It's about 120 trillion miles away, so it would take several generations for a spaceship to get there. It may seem like a long distance, but in the scheme of the vast universe, this planet is "like right in our face, right next door to us," Vogt said in an interview.

    That close proximity and the way it was found so early in astronomers' search for habitable planets hints to scientists that planets like Earth are probably not that rare.

    Vogt and Butler ran some calculations, with giant fudge factors built in, and figured that as much as one out of five to 10 stars in the universe have planets that are Earth-sized and in the habitable zone.

    With an estimated 200 billion stars in the universe, that means maybe 40 billion planets that have the potential for life, Vogt said. However, Ohio State University's Scott Gaudi cautioned that is too speculative about how common these planets are.

    Vogt and Butler used ground-based telescopes to track the star's precise movements over 11 years and watch for wobbles that indicate planets are circling it. The newly discovered planet is actually the sixth found circling Gliese 581. Two looked promising for habitability for a while, another turned out to be too hot and the fifth is likely too cold. This sixth one bracketed right in the sweet spot in between, Vogt said.

    With the star designated "a," its sixth planet is called Gliese 581g.

    "It's not a very interesting name and it's a beautiful planet," Vogt said. Unofficially, he's named it after his wife: "I call it Zarmina's World."

    The star Gliese 581 is a dwarf, about one-third the strength of our sun. Because of that, it can't be seen without a telescope from Earth, although it is in the Libra constellation, Vogt said.

    But if you were standing on this new planet, you could easily see our sun, Butler said.

    The low-energy dwarf star will live on for billions of years, much longer than our sun, he said. And that just increases the likelihood of life developing on the planet, the discoverers said.

    "It's pretty hard to stop life once you give it the right conditions," Vogt said.
  2. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
  3. DaveDeVille

    DaveDeVille ... you talkin' to me ?? Supporting Member

    ...awesome .

    and to think , if we left today , it would only take three generations to reach " Goldilocks ".

    sign me up !!

  4. When they say 3 generations do they mean having people bang, deliver, and raise the children, then that cycle again once they are older? Lol that 1rd generation will have an awkward time telling the 2nd/ second to 3rd that they were created for the sole purpose of getting to a planet, and those will be the only humans they ever be with their whole lives.
    Granted, i would do that. make history. have a family. a 100% space family hahaha
  5. Deluge Of Sound

    Deluge Of Sound Inactive

    Nov 8, 2007
    Given our current resource consumption, this is great news for people who're into the idea of continuing human existence.
  6. SamanthaCay

    SamanthaCay Like bass guitar OMG! Commercial User

    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    QC technician for WMDevices
    Looks like it's time to build a faster space ship.
  7. Did you hear about the black guy that built a space ship?
  8. Read about this, this morning, looks really interesting :)
  9. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Awesome! With the vast expanse that is our universe it was only a matter of time before someone found another planet (presumingly) capable of supporting life.

    The truth is out there!
  10. MX21


    Sep 28, 2007
    Springdale, AR
    3 times the size of Earth. It will be a bit difficult to walk around, or even stand at 3 gees.
  11. SamanthaCay

    SamanthaCay Like bass guitar OMG! Commercial User

    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    QC technician for WMDevices
    Um, no I can't say I have.:confused:
  12. DaveDeVille

    DaveDeVille ... you talkin' to me ?? Supporting Member

    ... :D
  13. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    He's a rocket scientist you racist piece of poo!

    Is it really that hard to grasp?? Really?
  14. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    But it sounds like their sun will outlast ours.....

    Step 1) Build an interstellar space craft

    Step 2) ????

    Step 3) Profit!

  15. And the award for funniest crossover post goes to... :D
  16. MX21


    Sep 28, 2007
    Springdale, AR
    NASA should announce that the planet is chock full of gold. Then see how fast we can develop interstellar space travel.
  17. MEKer

    MEKer Supporting member

    May 30, 2006
    I guess if I showed him my butt from a mile distance, he'd get pissed off for it being right up against his face!

    Other than my smart-arz comment, the planet thing is very cool. I just wish they'd spend a bit of the Mars exploration down at its South Pole where a bunch of weird stuff was photgraphed on earlier missions.

    And my favorite site for viewing (look at the photo numbers, go to NASA and check'em out there also):

    Cool stuff. The universe is stranger than fiction.
  18. BassyBill

    BassyBill Still here Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    No win there. Suppose they mine and bring back 20,000,000,000 tonnes of the stuff?

    You'd be drinking your coke out of gold cans and tossing them in the trash. ;)
  19. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    If General Relativity is correct, we can never go faster than the speed of light. In fact, we can never quite reach the speed of light. Now if wormholes, or something similar exist, maybe we can find a shortcut to this planet.;)
  20. MX21


    Sep 28, 2007
    Springdale, AR
    We already do that. Digging post holes the other day, I kept running into those darn gold rocks and tossing them aside.
    (I live in the foothills where the gold rush was. Literally on top of what was the richest producing gold mine in California.)

    But at least we'd have space travel.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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