back to article NASA hails 'amazing' exoplanetary system

NASA's Kepler space observatory has spotted an "amazing" exoplanetary system - six planets orbiting a sun-like star some 2,000 light-years from Earth. Artist's representation of the Kepler-11 system. Pic: NASA Kepler-11 represents "the fullest, most compact planetary system yet discovered beyond our own", and only the second …

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Silver badge
Coat

Or

"These discoveries underscore the importance of NASA's science missions, which consistently increase understanding of our place in the cosmos"

Or rather:

"These discoveries underscore the importance of NASA's science missions, which consistently diminish our importance in the cosmos"

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Pint

Only Our...

*

...self importance is diminished.

Because we are made of matter, each of us is attached to the Universe.

The more we see and understand the beauty of it, the more we see and understand the beauty of ourselves.

*please raise a pint for my 69th. Feb 14, 2012

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Coat

Geocentric much?

"In one generation we have gone from extraterrestrial planets being a mainstay of science fiction"

I'm quite frankly surprised at the short-sightedness of some to think that planetary formation is soley unique to our solar system. That extrasolar planets were ever considered science fiction is saddening. (Yes, a bit of correction for using "extraterrestrial planets" since we've known of "extraterrestrial" planets such as Mars for a long while now...."extrasolar" please)

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Silver badge

Quantumcentric much?

"In one generation we have gone from extraterrestrial planets being a mainstay of science fiction, to the present, where Kepler has helped turn science fiction into today's reality."

I'm quite frankly surprised at the short-sightedness of some to think that planetary formation is only occurs once we see it. I'm fairly sure it was always science, just unproven.

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Joke

69th? Feb 14, 2012?

Oh, how many jokes could be made with such a number on st Valentine day :)

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"millions of planets orbiting the stars that surround our sun..."

Now if only there was some way to get there....

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...we wouldn't want to go to Kepler very much anyway

None of those planets are anywhere near within the habitable zone for a Sun-like star. (If they were, Mercury and Venus wouldn't be so unseasonably hot all the time.)

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Let's go

I heard it's populated with eight foot tall blue humanoids and has lots of unobtainium.

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Coat

Unobtainium...

Why go so far for your Unobtanium? Louis Gossett Jr was able to manufacture enough of it in an abandoned aircraft hangar in the Utah desert here on Earth to build a large underground train-looking thing in "The Core*".

*Yes, I know general feeling towards this film is negative, I don't care, it's still more fun to watch than 2012....

\Mine's the one with the copy of The Day After Tomorrow in the pocket...

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Alien

Second that...

...so long as they have some kind of beer. None of this mixed drink, Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster nonsense.

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FAIL

It was not Louis Gossett Jr.

It was Delroy Lindo.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0298814/

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Yeah, but...

"Yes, I know general feeling towards this film is negative, I don't care, it's still more fun to watch than 2012...."

Well, I mean, it's less painful to bash myself in the nuts with a tack hammer than with an eight-pound sledge, but why do either?

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Thumb Down

Is it me...

or is the fact that the rest of the universe follows the general physical properties that we can see here not as astounding as is made out by these scientists?

"Loads of planets!" - yes, and? If they are formed here with known physical contraints, why shouldn't they be formed elsewhere?

Am I missing something?

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Boffin

Yes, you are missing something.

The data that is now available thanks to Kepler gives us a vastly larger sampling of planetary systems and gives us an idea of what is possible in solar system formation. This is wonderful insight.

It could also simply be amazement at the wonderful devices we have now made, such as Kepler. Bravo boffins!

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Go

Nah, I'd guess it is just a science thing GrumpyJoe

We still don't really know what solar system formation involves, that is, there is no theory of planet formation though there are a lot of models and conjectures. I'm sure planetary scientists have boxes full of mad orreries and such, but they have to behave a bit more strict in public when reporting on these new discoveries.

Check out this map NASA pulled together as a theoretically possible star(s) system:

* http://io9.com/#!5742034/a-detailed-map-of-battlestar-galacticas-twelve-colonies

Now... hmm... I feel a bit of Brian Cox is in order.

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Two reasons

1. Using our large sample of "one solar system" (i.e. ours) is generally frowned upon - until know, we were the only proof that a fair number of large planets could orbit one star, nor do we know how common our type of system is. It'd be like saying "my house is a mansion with 8 bedrooms, so every house must be a mansion with 8 bedrooms!" - sure, there's a few mansions out there, but how many?

2. It's a fairly squished up solar system. 6 planets with sizes all the way up to Neptune/Uranus all fitting inside the orbit of Venus? I do find it pretty impressive that they haven't all smashed into or ripped eachother up.

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Boffin

Just like it is here

If we are to take our own solar system as a model, are we to assume that every solar system has, on average, one life-bearing planet on which sentient beings have evolved to a sufficient extent that they can make sarcastic comments to each other on message boards?

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Large Gaseous Bodies

"my house is a mansion with 8 bedrooms, so every house must be a mansion with 8 bedrooms!"

I do believe that is the current government view on housing.

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Jobs Horns

Yeah BUT...

I have seen this here - in other sites...

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/02/17/star_trek_scuppered/

So while it's GREAT for find out all this stuff about the universe, HOW can we get there - and considering HOW HUGE the universe is, and HOW MUCH evil galactic radiations there are, AND the fry you to death impacts with hydrogen atoms - causing NASTY ionising radiation and death within a second or so - at near light speed;

AND the FAKT that we MUST go wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy FASTER than light speed... to get around in the galaxy...

Think 3 legged donkey = light speed; and super super super fast space robot // probes picking up speed by sling shotting off the gravity fields of planets....

We need light years per hour speeds.... and more.

THEN we can piss off around the galaxy and check all them planets out.

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Black Helicopters

re : Yeah BUT..

Or some way to distort gravity.. pulling a point in space time towards us, then reversing the effect, ending up at the focus point.. without having to travel through the intervening space.. no need to worry about fast moving particles then, see?

Doesn't have to be very far away either.. just to be repeatable on a quick time scale..

Damnit.. I've said too much.. I can hear them comi

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Pulling something towards us is relatively easy

To generate a strong gravity field you just need to go really, really fast e.g. 0.99C

Pushing away requires the highly implausible anti-gravity, which only exists (as far as we know) in a physicist's notebook atm.

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Anonymous Coward

Magic Wands

Anyone that claims our understanding of the universe is absolute is poorly informed. It's entirely possible that an incredible discovery is just around the corner, in fact it's possible that it has already been made, but nobody noticed and it languished as some ones play thing for a few weeks before they got bored and dumped it not realising its significance.

Much like this http://dimdima.com/science/science_common/show_science.asp?q_aid=156&q_title=The+First+Steam+Engine

Imagine how much different the world would be if the industrial revolution happened in 100AD, it didn't though as it was seen more as a plaything.

What the technology that will allow star travel will be like is a mystery (if it is possible) but one can assume 3 basics components will be required - an ability to travel vast distances, an ability to protect the inhabitance of a ship from the dangers of space, the method of travel, and any issues that occur at the end point and, a power source.

Another important pre step will be establishing a lasting presence on the various moons and planets that make up our solar system.

But without a goal why would we ever try, imagination and hope are what push people forward, if everyone went "well what's the point of trying something new" we'd all be roaming the land a lot like the various predators of the wilds.

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Joke

@annodomini2

But surely to get anti-gravity you just reverse the polarity?

Don't tell me Star Trek got *that* wrong too!

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*plink* *hsss* *plinkplinkPLINKplink* *WHOOSH*

'Them' of course being the tiny meteoroids approaching your craft at relativistic speeds, thanks to careless use of a drive microsingularity.

Or -- oh, wait, you're talking about some kind of wormhole nonsense that's even sillier than what I thought you were saying. Carry on!

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No no no

You can't just go around willy-nilly reversing polarity on things and expect to go fast -- try reversing the polarity on the mains plugs in your house, see how fast you go when you're electrocuted and set on fire simultaneously by an angry hair dryer.

No, you need to do it *right* -- that is, you need to reverse the polarity *of the neutron flow*. Which we don't know how to do yet, admittedly, because neutrons have no charge and therefore no polarity. Step one, obviously, then, is to find some way to give neutrons charge, and also to polarize them; once we've done that, we can reverse the polarity of the freshly-charged-and-polarized neutron flow, and Bob up there drifting amongst the clouds is our uncle. Just be careful you don't do it too fast, I hear it's a little nippy up there in LEO.

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Silver badge

Hate to tell you

but the plugs in my house reverse polarity 100 times every second...

It's called AC. Your hair dryer would probably get angrier if it didn't happen, although it may use a universal motor rather than a synchronous, in which case it really wouldn't care.

'Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow' could be taken to mean making the neutrons go in the other direction.

How exactly one might do such a thing, and what purpose it might serve, given their lack of charge is left as an exercise for the reader.

- As to 'giving a neutron charge' - All you have to do is swap out a quark for a different quark. It doesn't even matter which, you'll either get a proton or an anti-proton - or something else that's charged and pretty strange.

CERN do it pretty regularly (though not exactly controlled) by bashing things together in the LHC.

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Anonymous Coward

Scientist or Boffin?

This Jack Lissaur, is he a scientist or boffin. I hardly think we need to be listening to the droolings of someone with an 'O' level in macrami.

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Headmaster

extraterrestrial?

"In one generation we have gone from extraterrestrial planets being a mainstay of science fiction..."

I think you mean "extrasolar", yes? There are currently seven-ish extraterrestrial planets in the neighborhood.

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'Jack Lissauer, planetary scientist and a Kepler science team member'

Whoa there!

Following the Neal's ('we're not charlatans, honest') Yard ruling from the ASA, 'scientist' might mean he's got an advanced degree in theoretical yogurt weaving from the University of Creditcard sur Internet.

I'm hoping that Lissauer being described as a 'planetary scientist' means he's sort of a geologist. Geologist may not often need to resort to solving problems with calculus (most geological problems are soluble with a hammer), but must be considered boffins because they're responsible for dinosaurs and volcanoes.

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Anonymous Coward

responsible

"must be considered boffins because they're responsible for dinosaurs and volcanoes."

They should be considered gods if they're really responsible for dinosaurs and volcanoes.

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Flame

titular admonishment

Now, now TMC. Please don't bring the g-word into a debate about sciencey stuff, it's silly.

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Well...

...I didn't want to boast.

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Pint

Boffo

I'm sure we had agreed that these guys were boffins? Surely this kind of repeated measurement and interpretation of data is exactly what boffins do to prove that things like planetary formation follow the same rules as observed in our solar system?

And when are they going to prove that hyper-space travel is possible so that we can go visit these discworlds? Poxy impulse power isnt going to get us anywhere!

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Coat

Amazing...

...but is it "magical"?

Yes...I'm going. Mine's the one with a far-too-big-for-my-pocket device...in my pocket.

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Jobs Horns

Not that far off

Just waiting until his iMinence decides to create the iKepler and sue all these egghead planetmongers out of existence.

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Stop

Habitable ??

Just in what way are these planets habitable ? Just because they re orbiting an earth like sun don't make them habitable ? Is anyone claiming they have a breathable atmosphere ? NO ? Not habitable then..

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FAIL

Habitable---NOT!

Who thinks up these headlines?!?

These planets are orbiting their star inside the distance of MERCURY and VENUS from Sol! To remind you, Venus is a toxic overheated greenhouse with lakes of sulfuric acid, emphasis on the OVERHEATED! Mercury is a baked desert with daytime temperatures above 400C! In what conceivable reality are these planets going to be HABITABLE!?!?

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FAIL

<TITLE>

1st, Not every star in the galaxy is as hot as the sun. The habitable zone moves depending on the star and it's type.

2nd, The habitable planets are not around Kepler 11b, but other star systems.

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Assumptions

It's a little presumptious to assume that because we can't survive on Venus that nothing can. There are places under the sea where the tectonic plates meet, spewing out heat and various noxious gases. There are creatures there that can not only tolerate that environment, but thrive in it.

So, I'd say it's conceivable in our reality that they are habitable. Just not to us. But then, we aren't really that important (unless you believe we are all the unique and special creations of a god that cares more about us than anything else he created).

Besides, doesn't the heat of the planet depend on a variety of things including a) how far it is from its sun b) how hot that sun is c) what makes up its atmosphere d) if it happens to orbit in the shade of another planet

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Anonymous Coward

"Not every star in the galaxy is as hot as the sun."

You're right there -- something like 80% of all stars in our galaxy are far cooler and dimmer than our sun.

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It doesn't say 'habitable' in the headline.

Well spotted, tho.

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Anonymous Coward

in order to

> NASA explains that such bodies form from a star's protoplanetary

> disc "relatively quickly in order to obtain gases before the disk

> disperses".

Did they really say that? It seems to imply some form of anticipation and intent in planet formation.

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Silver badge

re. Anticipation And Intent

Every sensible young protoplanet instinctively knows that it must form quickly in order to grab available material before it gets swept up by other, faster forming planets. If a protoplanet did not behave like that, it would not form and so would not exist.

This is called 'survival of the fattest' and is the reason why most of the observed extrasolar planets are big and chunky things.

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Boffin

re. re. Anticipation And Intent →

"This is called 'survival of the fattest' and is the reason why most of the observed extrasolar planets are big and chunky things."

No the reason why most of the observed extrasolar planets are big is because they are the easiest to spot. Our solar system may or may not be a good model, same for most of what we've found so far. It could be that most solar systems are full of tiny planets, but we can't detect them yet. You can have a prediction, that's fine, just don't call it fact yet.

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Stop

Disclosure calls

""Among "several hundred new planet candidates" are 54 habitable zone worlds, of which five are "near Earth-sized". The remaining 49 are "range from super-Earth size – up to twice the size of Earth – to larger than Jupiter"".

Just skip to the point where the nord and eben are introduced to us humans.. NASA should stop pissing about the slow warm up and get to the point.. we have been visited and contacted.. they should get on and disclose... getting bored with the governments mucking us all about for tooooo long!

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Joke

That's a joke right? You don't seriously believe we have been visited?

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Alien

RE : Joke

Well either the CIA/NSA and NASA have been dressing kiddies up in alien kit and flying around in iron that defies known laws of flight.

Or we have been visited by aliens, either way the evidence that something has been going on and the US/UK/USSR and Chinese governments have been keeping it underground.... is overwhelming... We aint the only life in the universe!

You think SETI just pickup radio noise??? Background noise from the big bang? total horsec***

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WTF?

Really?

Intelligent beings with the technology to either exceed the speed of light (or bypass it in some way), or that have spent generations in slower than light craft, finally reach Earth then spend the next 60 years experimenting on cows and white trailer trash? Surely they would have landed and set up a circus by now at Nazca? After all, they're obviously clowns, and they have a guaranteed audience with all the people they command with anal inserts.

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Headmaster

Extrasolar..?

All planets are extrasolar... :-p

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Unhappy

What a sobering thought

If, once we get to travel out there and visit all of these M-class worlds, we only find three alternatives in existence:

Rocks with no indigenous life.

Worlds having nothing but a bacterial soup.

Worlds with the ruined remains of a dead civilization.

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