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Astronomers Find Possibly Livable Planet (12 Light Yrs from Earth, Tau Ceti)

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12-26-2012, 01:36 PM
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Fugu
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Astronomers Find Possibly Livable Planet (12 Light Yrs from Earth, Tau Ceti)

http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Astronomers-find-possibly-livable-planet-4129706.php

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International astronomers, including a leading planet hunter at UC Santa Cruz, say they have detected five possible planets circling a distant star much like Earth's sun - and that one of those planets is apparently in the famed "habitable zone" where water could exist on its surface.
Visible in the evening sky and only 12 light-years from Earth, the star is called Tau Ceti. The astronomers reported Tuesday that they had combined more than 6,000 observations from three telescopes to detect the system of "exoplanets."
The astronomers estimate that the five planets range from two to six times the mass of Earth, making it a planetary system with the lowest mass of any yet detected. The planet inside the habitable zone - where, if water exists, life could also be possible - is only five times the mass of Earth, they calculate.


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More information about Tau Ceti and its six planetary system appears in the catchily-titled Habitable-zone super-Earth candidate in a six-planet system around the K2.5V star HD 40307, a report written by the group that appears in the latest issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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12-26-2012, 03:49 PM
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They keep finding more and more of them , unless I'm mistaken the technology and technics used to detect these kind of planets are pretty recent , so it's a schock that so many planets have the POTENTIAL to be livable.

I'll definitely keep an eye on all those findings in the next 20-30 years , a big discovery could be close.

How do they see these planets anyway since they are so close to their stars? Do they wait for them to get in front of the star and then calculated the diminished light or something like this?

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12-26-2012, 08:33 PM
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Even though I'll practically guarantee there's nothing larger than bacteria there, I'd suggest starting to send off light signals. Now, of course, this might require insanely large reflective panels (i'm just guessing the best way would be to reflect the suns light) and a lot of expense, but heck it might be worth it.

Or, in all likelihood, a hilarious waste of money and time.

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12-27-2012, 12:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenchBrawl View Post
How do they see these planets anyway since they are so close to their stars? Do they wait for them to get in front of the star and then calculated the diminished light or something like this?
They're measuring the doppler effect of the light of the star as its movement is affected by the theoretical orbiting planet. We think of the planet as orbiting around the star, but they're really both orbiting around a common center of mass. So while the planet moves the most due its much smaller mass, so does the star. As the star moves toward or away from us (the movement of the Earth around the Sun is compensated for obviously) the wavelength of its light shifts slightly to the corresponding blue or red end of the spectrum. It's this "wobble" that astronomers detect and then infer the presence of planet(s) and their masses/periods. That's why so many of the early planets that were detected were giants with close orbits -- they had the biggest (and easiest to observe) impact on their star's movement.

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12-27-2012, 12:08 PM
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IIRC correctly can researches not gain an idea of what a planets atmosphere may be like by measuring the contents of the atmosphere via a form of spectroscopy?

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12-27-2012, 01:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by octopi View Post
Even though I'll practically guarantee there's nothing larger than bacteria there, I'd suggest starting to send off light signals. Now, of course, this might require insanely large reflective panels (i'm just guessing the best way would be to reflect the suns light) and a lot of expense, but heck it might be worth it.

Or, in all likelihood, a hilarious waste of money and time.
it doesnt matter if there is ANY life there now(and its probably better if there isnt)... we arent looking for aliens, what we are looking for is a "lifeboat planet" that mankind could move to if things crap out here on earth....

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12-27-2012, 09:23 PM
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Dibs.

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01-02-2013, 02:51 PM
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Will they call it Tau Alpha 6?

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01-02-2013, 03:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by octopi View Post
Even though I'll practically guarantee there's nothing larger than bacteria there, I'd suggest starting to send off light signals. Now, of course, this might require insanely large reflective panels (i'm just guessing the best way would be to reflect the suns light) and a lot of expense, but heck it might be worth it.

Or, in all likelihood, a hilarious waste of money and time.
We're already sending out radio waves.

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01-02-2013, 03:35 PM
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RandV
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Quote:
Originally Posted by piqued View Post
They're measuring the doppler effect of the light of the star as its movement is affected by the theoretical orbiting planet. We think of the planet as orbiting around the star, but they're really both orbiting around a common center of mass. So while the planet moves the most due its much smaller mass, so does the star. As the star moves toward or away from us (the movement of the Earth around the Sun is compensated for obviously) the wavelength of its light shifts slightly to the corresponding blue or red end of the spectrum. It's this "wobble" that astronomers detect and then infer the presence of planet(s) and their masses/periods. That's why so many of the early planets that were detected were giants with close orbits -- they had the biggest (and easiest to observe) impact on their star's movement.
Yeah I get the general premise of how it works. What I'd be more interested in knowing, though the rational side of me understands that it's probably more or less impossible, is what it would take to get an actual visual image of these findings.

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