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back to article 100 EARTH-LIKE PLANETS orbit stars WITHIN 30 LIGHT-YEARS!

In an announcement with massive consequences for the human race, astronomers say there are "probably about one hundred" planets within just 30 light-years of our solar system which could support life along Earthly lines. By their calculations, there are tens of billions of such worlds in our galaxy, suggesting that even if life …

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Does this mean ...

... the next SPB is to send a paper probe to a nearby star system or should it be something a bit closer like one of them temporary moons we've been having hanging around lately?

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Re: Does this mean ...

Definitely let the Playmonauts claim the new planets to stop humanity getting there and fucking things up!

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Alien

May I be the first

to welcome our close living Alien overlords.

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and something I've just noticed.

Your forum server times are still running an hour behind..

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Alien

Re: and something I've just noticed.

They're running on "New Alien Overlord Time".

Well you did welcome them.

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Joke

Re: and something I've just noticed.

That's just a temporal anomaly. Probably a backdoor to Section 31, intercepting logs for unauthorized off-world communications.... You'll be contacted later when the Temporal Integrity Commission re-aligns your place in the timeline for exposing the glitch....

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Facepalm

Re: and something I've just noticed.

The Forum is on GMT not BST so they are correct.

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RegHack reported

"By their calculations, there are tens of billions of such worlds in our galaxy, suggesting that even if life is very rare it is bound to have arisen elsewhere."

The opposite conclusion could be drawn from that statement:, for intelligent life, anyway:

Since there was so much opportunity for it to arise and it still hasn't made itself evident anywhere but on this planet then it is probably very very rare.

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Evident?

We made it evident only for ourselves, and "intelligent" can be a sligthly different reality on another world...

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Joke

If I were intellegent life on another planet and saw what's going on here, I might be inclined to hide my existance as much as possible. They probably have installed these heat / light / microwave cloaking devices that everyone is saying are just around the corner (if you count 10 parsecs as just around the corner!)

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IT Angle

There's Intelligent life here?

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Hello Swarthy.

Pleased to meet you! Welcome to the intelligent life club. So glad you could make it.

Do take a seat; there should be plenty of room...

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RegHack

Firstly, the article talks about "Life". Did you read it ? It makes no mention of "intelligent life" or "technologically advanced intelligent life".

So your repost is a meaningless and irrelevant one. At best.

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Coat

On planets with truly intelligent life the heat cloaking devices are employed for VAT avoidance.

tools.http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/coat_32.png

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They avoid us because of cricket!

It's in very bad taste, you know.

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Terminator

Hmmm

MMMM, ---- could be.

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Headmaster

@Forget It

"it still hasn't made itself evident anywhere but on this planet"

Rather, we haven't yet noticed any intelligent life elsewhere, the limited capabilities for which we've only managed to develop and put to use over the last fifty or so of our earth years. That's a pretty small window, cosmically speaking. Also, your anthropocentric view of the matter only holds if you're limiting yourself to *intelligent* life, which the article doesn't. From which we can conclude that you are not included in this "intelligent life" subset either.

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Alert

Damm

Wish I'd studied astronomy and got to play with some nice toys as well as making discoveries like this rather than reading about it while trying to avoid writing some pointless script to do a task that should never have been dreamt up in the diseased mind of a project manager.

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Re: Damm

I did study astronomy,

Here I am, writing scripts.

So yeah, it's much of a muchness.

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Re: Damm

The great wonders of

The universe are closer

Than you think, Cowking

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Garth, that was a Haiku!

Whoaaa...

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Genocide

"...seeding them with suitably-adapted Earth life to create truly habitable worlds..."

So our first inter-stellar contact would result in a massive genocide to make the new planet suitable for Humans?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Genocide

How can you commit genocide on a planet that hasn't got any life? RTFA

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Re: Genocide

... that we can detect or recognise

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Trollface

Re: Genocide

1) That woukd be "xenocide"

2) Damn bleeding heart greenside liberals at it again? Sod that! LAUNCH CAPSULES!!

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Re: Genocide

You left out the <Sarc> tag.

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Re: Genocide

Humans are (sadly) very good at Genocide. See: Native Americans, New World, smallpox, blankets

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Alien

What percentage of these planets ....

... have black monoliths on them?

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Re: What percentage of these planets ....

"ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS—EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What percentage of these planets ....

"ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS—EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE."

...as our currency is flaky and we don't want to have to bail out another load of people.

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Joke

"and look outward to the other zero-point-nine-recurring of the universe"

<redneck>

...so is this universe place also in Texas or is it in another state anyways?

</redneck>

Sorry, I had to after Lewis went and suggested that we were only inward looking

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Anonymous Coward

"...and look outward to the other zero-point-nine-recurring of the universe..."

Is it just me, or is that sentence missing the words "ninety-nine" and "percent".

C'mon Reg-hacks. If I can proof-read my half-arsed comments a couple of times, you could at least do likewise when penning an article!

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Eurgh, percentages? Horrible things. Decimals make much more sense.

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Anonymous Coward

0.9999.... = 1

http://qntm.org/pointnine

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So WE are the aliens

Since Red Dwarves are much more common than G-class stars such as our Sun, it follows that if complex live can come into being near a RD it will be more common than our Yellow-star type of life-forms (chlorophyll, DNA, etc.). That's assuming that life in systems of similar star-types share some sort of commonality - a big IF.

In that case, maybe they are all chattering to each other in Red-Dwarvish and it's us, with our "yellow-star speak" who neither recognise their existence, not share common traits. So when we do finally make contact with the massed hordes of other intelligences, we could be the ones who are oh, so different.

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Re: So WE are the aliens

They are probably passing us by because 'no life could ever evolve around a yellow star like that.'

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Happy

We'd just have to change the bulb

To a Red one.

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The other thing about red dwarfs

is that, being so small and dim compared to the Sun, the habitable zone is so close to the star that 1) any planets are being bathed in hard radiation and 2) are highly likely to be tidally locked, so one hemisphere is in permanent daylight and the other in permanent night. We already have an example of this in Gliese 581g.

Whether life can evolve or even be sustained under such conditions is a question even our grandchildren may not be able to answer.

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Boffin

Re: The other thing about red dwarfs

They have far less UV radiation output than the sun. Because the temperature is lower. If we put the planet near enough to the red dwarf to be comfy temperature-wise, the amount of shorter wavelengths (including blue light) hitting the atmosphere is less. Charged particles release might be energetic, but with a strong enough magnetic field a planet could be OK. One worry is actually that there is not enough UV and other hard radiation to cause enough mutations to keep evolution ticking over, but that is a rather speculative argument. There are many sources of randomness which could supply enough mutations.

Incidentally, the colour of light emitted by your typical red dwarf equals that of an incandescent light bulb (3200 K colour temperature) to that of a halogen light (3600K). So they are really yellowish red, whereas our "yellow" sun emits white (5800K) light.

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Re: The other thing about red dwarfs

Valid points, Michael, but when I said "hard radiation" it wasn't the UV I was thinking of - it was the gamma that is a result of all thermonuclear reactions. A red dwarf is still, at its heart, a massive thermonuclear reactor, albeit a smaller one, and it still chucks out a sizeable amount of gamma in the process.

Whether that's enough to irradiate a planet beyond the capacity to support life is a function of how much less gamma the star is producing than the Sun versus the increased exposure due to the reduced orbital distance (the inverse square law applying here), and the strength of the planet's magnetic field (if any).

Since to the best of my knowledge planetary magnetic fields are a product of the planet's rotation affecting its roiling interior, I would imagine the vast majority of planets that are tidally locked would, due to the slow rotation, not have much of a magnetic field at all. We have an example in our very own solar system; of the four rocky planets, only Earth has an appreciable magnetic field. And without a magnetic field to deflect and absorb that radiation, there's no way a planet is going to be able to support life.

That said, it would be interesting to see what the result of a planet having a large moon (like Earth) in such a proximal orbit to a red dwarf would be. The moon has a far greater tidal effect on the Earth than the Sun because of its proximity over the mass difference, so would a planet with a large moon orbiting a red dwarf still be tidally locked to the star, or to the moon? Or would the clash of tidal forces result in the planet still having an appreciable rotation?

Since I'm not an astrophysicist, the answer to that is beyond my puny maths, but it would be interesting to hear the take of someone with more knowledge on this, since I haven't heard it mentioned in discussions of planets in close orbits of red dwarfs.

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Flame

Do you think each world has been made by a different God, or did one God make them all?

If it was one God, then he's up to 600 days work already (since each world will clearly believe their Earth to be the only one). Now call me cynical, but I'm fairly sure that breaches the European Working Time directive, not to mention several Health & Safety rules.

If it was more than one God, then clearly religion is bunk.

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Mushroom

"If it was more than one God, then clearly religion is bunk."

Unless of course God's (or the gods) intention is to seed millions of intelligent lifeforms with slightly different spiritual perspectives. The progression of life is the slow adaption and integration of these beliefs systems into their single shared common thread. At that moment we all obtain a clear insight into the meaning of the universe.

Or maybe I just made that up to counter a pretty juvenile attempt to turn and interesting science article into an excuse for religion bashing.*

[And I say that as an ardent atheist]

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Alien

Or possibly

Its some kind of competition, where each God seeds his randomly selected rock with a life form of his (or her), design and a winner takes all game develops, it's probably broadcast on the heavenly equivalent of BBC2.

"Your puny humans don't stand a chance against my mighty Xargons"

Actually, giving this more thought, I suspect that this activity is limited to a somewhat nerdy clique of Gods.

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Re: Or possibly

God spreading his seed? So the universe is a giant wank-sock.

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Black Helicopters

So the universe is like a giant game of Black & White??

That would explain why I constantly feel like I am a pawn in some master being video game :)

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God.. Your God, My Gods,

The Cylon god or gods.. s/(t)he/y(it) can be big enough for us all, hehehehe....

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Re: Or possibly

Maybe god literally hip-spewed out into the uniwerse, a partly base and acidic blend of life stream? Life has a rhythm, a melody, once we tune in to it. We can swim in it and still be on the shore. We can feel the current, but not be sucked in.

That must be that unseen matter/force that keeps pulsing and pushing the uniwerse to expand. Now, if the uniwerse expanded and contracted rhythmically, it might be a cosmic orgasm, adding more musical terms to life.

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Alien

With all respect to the late, great Douglas Adams.

"At that moment we all obtain a clear insight into the meaning of the universe."

At which point it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

Colin

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Windows

"Whom the GodS would destroy....

...they first make mad". Possibly by enabling comments from trolls on these forua...

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Anonymous Coward

@Velv

Technically your argument isn't god is bunk, but only that particular very homo-centric interpretations thereof are so. If you are going to be a self-rightious psudo-intellectual prat, you need to think a little more outside the teeny tiny society you grew up in!

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