Planet System Similar to Ours Revealed

Discussion in 'SHH Community Forum' started by Galactus, Nov 7, 2007.

  1. Galactus

    Galactus Devourer of Worlds

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    By Ker Than, Staff Writer

    posted: 06 November 2007 01:26 pm ET

    Scientists announced today the discovery of a fifth planet in a distant star system that that now looks like a "cousin" to our own.

    Known as 55 Cancri, the sun-like star harbors the most number of planets ever discovered outside our solar system.

    "We now know that our sun and its family of planets is not unusual," study team member Geoffrey Marcy of the University of California, Berkeley told reporters in a teleconference. "Architecturally, this new planetary system is reminiscent of ours, albeit souped-up. All the planets in this new system are more massive by factors of 5 to 10."

    Four of the planets had been previously detected, but the existence of the fifth planet took 18 years to confirm. It is about 45 times more massive than Earth and might be similar to Saturn in its composition and appearance.

    55 Cancri is located 41 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Cancer and is visible with binoculars. The system contains a clutch of four inner planets that are separated from an outer planet by a huge gap.

    "We haven't found a twin of our solar system, because the four planets close to the star are all the size of Neptune or bigger," Marcy said.

    Although more than 250 extrasolar, or "exoplanets," are now known, only one other star, mu Ara in the southern sky, is known to have four planets. Astronomers expect many multi-planet star system to be found as technology improves.

    Possibly habitable

    The newest member of Cancri 55's family lies within the star's habitable zone, the region around the star within which water can exist in its liquid state. Though the planet is a giant ball of gas, liquid water could exist on other, currently undiscovered rocky planets in the system. Marcy said he's optimistic that continued observations will reveal a rocky planet around the star within five years.

    Such a potentially habitable planet could reside in the nearly 700 million-mile (1.1 million-kilometer) wide space that separates 55 Cancri's four inner planets and its outer one.

    "I would bet you that gap isn't empty," said study team member Debra Fischer of San Francisco State University. "What we see in our solar system is that we are full up on planets. There are very few tiny windows where you can drop even a moon-sized object in and have it survive in a stable orbit.

    Another possibility is that a moon in orbit around 55 Cancri's newly confirmed planet could harbor liquid water, and perhaps life, the researchers say

    "If there were a moon around this planet, it would have a rocky surface," Marcy said. "Water on it could in principle puddle into lakes and oceans, serving as the solvent for biochemistry.

    'One small step'

    Michael Briley, an astronomer at the National Science Foundation who was not involved in the study, said the discovery marks an "exciting step" in the search for worlds like our own

    "To go from the first detections of planets around sun-like stars to finding a full-fledged solar system with a planet in a habitable zone in just 12 years is an amazing accomplishment and a testament to the years of hard work put in by these investigators," Briley said

    Alan Stern, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington who also was not involved in the study, said "it is amazing to see our ability to detect extrasolar planets growing.

    "We are finding solar systems with a richness of planets and a variety of planetary types comparable to our own," Stern said

    The planets were found using the Lick Observatory and the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii using the so-called radial velocity, or "wobble," technique, whereby the presence of planets are inferred by the way they gravitationally affect their parent star's orbit. The newest world will be detailed in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal.

    "Finding five extrasolar planets orbiting a star is only one small step," Marcy said. "Earth-like planets are the next destination."
     
  2. ScottyBBadd

    ScottyBBadd The Texas Outlaw

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    Now if one is inhabitable, it's on. Most extra solar planets that have been found are gas giants.
     
  3. Super Kal

    Super Kal Proud Conservative

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  4. Mr Jide

    Mr Jide Registered

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  5. raybia

    raybia Signing off

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    Great, first Iraq, next Iran, and waiting in the wings: Cancri. :csad:

    Sorry Cancri but resistance to American Democracy is futile.
     
  6. The Evolutionist

    The Evolutionist Registered

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    Great, now we have a new planet to screw up horribly.
     
  7. Cmill216

    Cmill216 Senior Case Officer

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    Props to Galactus for keeping us up-to-date on what's going on in the cosmos. :up:
     
  8. Immortalfire

    Immortalfire The Pain of Fast Air

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  9. terry78

    terry78 BUY MY BOOK!!!!

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    Crisis on Infinite Earths?
     
  10. Immortalfire

    Immortalfire The Pain of Fast Air

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    I guess a true gourmet always knows what's on the menu.
     
  11. Mee

    Mee 2 E's are better than 1

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    Any sign of Klingons?
     
  12. Alina

    Alina Registered

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    Yeah, exactly, we're good at screwing things up:csad:
     
  13. SuperMonkey

    SuperMonkey Registered

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    I know, soon we'll have factories, cars and evil gas stations polluting the gas giant. THINK OF THE POLAR BEARS! :csad:

    -- FunBob
     
  14. Sloth7d

    Sloth7d Escapist

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    Pics or it didn't happen.
     
  15. SuperMonkey

    SuperMonkey Registered

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    Pics? PICS? PICS?

    Since when did all the hype get the IQ of Toven? :csad:
     
  16. Honey Vibe

    Honey Vibe Pardon, Mr. Hyde?

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    There may not have been pictures with the article. He attempted to post a source, so I don't get what the problem is.
     
  17. Lighthouse

    Lighthouse Fairness, Equality, Bacon

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    [​IMG]
    DINNER TIME!!!
     
  18. Nell2ThaIzzay

    Nell2ThaIzzay Registered

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    you know... i never have and never will understand what defines "habitable"

    i've had this conversation with a friend of mine, who is big on science and stuff. while he doesn't neccesarily agree with me, he does understand where i'm coming from.

    this universe is WAY too big to define everything that happens in it to the way it happens on earth. my point? in this huge universe, how do we know that there isn't some creature out there who thrives on gas planets? an environment that we would deem uninhabitable?

    look at our own planet! we have way too many different types of life on our own planet, that thrive in different circumstances, that other creatures on this planet couldn't survive in, for me to believe that there is one narrow definition of what is habitable and what is not.

    i just can't wait until we get invaded by the gassy snow monsters of pluto so i can point and laugh at all the scientists who thought that a planet had to be exactly like earth for life to exist on it.
     
  19. Knightsaber Priss

    Knightsaber Priss Lone Wolf

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    And people still believe we're the only hospitable planet in the universe.
     
  20. Arkady Rossovich

    Arkady Rossovich Registered

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    ^It's their way of dealing with the fact that humans are not special.
     
  21. The Geek Vault

    The Geek Vault Come at me bro

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  22. Carcharodon

    Carcharodon Registered

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    Well, for all the diversity of life on our planet, they're all governed by some basic biological rules (i.e., there is a biological definition of life). Unofficially, for instance, pretty much everything on this planet relies on water, in one form or another. Water almost entirely facilitates life on this planet. So when you say, "look at our own planet! we have way too many different types of life on our own planet, that thrive in different circumstances," keep that in mind.

    Having said that, I agree with you, for the most part. There could be many forms of life that follow the biological definition, but are far removed from anything that we see here due to the constraints of their environment. Water, in our case, is most certainly an environmental constraint of this planet, but not on other planets.

    I remember debating this with Honey Vibe once, and she said that I was shifting the definition of life (I was discussing Silicon-based vs. Carbon-based lifeforms), when in fact I was solidly adhering to the biological definition, which says nothing about all lifeforms having to be analogous to the types we see on this planet.
     
  23. Joker

    Joker Registered

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    I think when they say habitable, they mean habitable to carbon based life forms, such as every species on this planet.
     
  24. Arcturus

    Arcturus Registered

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    This is very interesting news, the universe is a vast and mysterious place. It's only obvious that there would be other planets orbiting other suns, and they've already found a few planets similar to earth. And hopefully, sometime in the future we'll be able to visit these planets, and perhaps one day find other lifeforms.

    Also, when they say habitable, I believe they're referring to the "habitable" zone, as in the planets position where it isn't to cold, isn't to hot, but just right! As in earth, being the third rock from the sun where liquid water can exist giving way to life.

    Habitable Zone

    But who says the requirements for life are the exact same on earth, who knows, perhaps there are other ways life can evolve and thrive. Only time will tell.

    :yay:
     
  25. Nell2ThaIzzay

    Nell2ThaIzzay Registered

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    that's exactly my point.

    the universe is way too big, and we know way too little, to be able to say for sure and for certain that there aren't species of life in the universe that rely on environments that we see in our own solar system, like venus, or jupiter or something.

    i just refuse to believe that jupiter CAN'T support life.

    the type of life we see on earth? obviously. but the universe is way too big for me to say that there isn't something out there that lives in those kinds of environments.

    all life -that we know of- relies on water in some way or another. but the planet earth is but 1 small planet in a very huge universe that we don't know much of anything about beyond our own planet, and we don't even know all there is to know about our own planet.
     

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