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back to article Habitable HEAVY GRAVITY WORLD found just 42 light-years away

Astroboffins have found another super-Earth planet orbiting a star just 42 light years away from home, but this one could support life as we know it. Super-Earth HD40307g with its host star Super-Earth HD40307g alongside its host star. Credit: J. Pinfield, RoPACS, Uni of Hertfordshire Star HD40307 has been checked out before …

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Trollface

It doesn't matter not how far away it is

The Germans will have already put their towels on all the best deck chairs.

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Nev
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Re: It doesn't matter not how far away it is

I heard it was already full of drunk, sun-burnt, shaven headed Brit tourists....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It doesn't matter not how far away it is

It rains highly concentrated acid rain there...........

Or is that here?

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Anonymous Coward

Somewhere

To send the worlds politicians

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HD40307g, really?

I thought it was called LV-426. Anyhow, let's go there!

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Re: HD40307g, really?

Last call for the Weyland-Yutani flight to LV426 now boarding!

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EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?

On El Reg, could we please confine our impressive grasp of fiction to official Government statistics?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?

Or perhaps you could open a book. And maybe even your mind.

Both Niven and Smith produced excelent work.

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Thumb Up

Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?

> Both Niven and Smith produced excelent work.

And some of "Doc" Smith's books can be downloaded as ebooks from the Gutenberg project.

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Alien

Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?

Having contributed in the comments sections about scientifiction, I disagree. The younger members of the readership should be reminded about the Golden Age of Science fiction, up to and including the 1970s and 80s popular writers when it was at its most popular (IMHO).

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FAIL

Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?

The Valerian colonists were huge and powerful ...

Showing an inability to understand basic physics (and Darwinian evolution). The larger a structure, the less able it is to resist gravity. A flea can survive hundreds (thousands? ) of self-inflicted gravities every time it jumps. A mouse can fall off a cliff and run away at the bottom, unharmed. A human being over seven foot tall is freakish, and at a clear evolutionary disadvantage. (Much more likely to break bones when he falls over, for starters).

Inhabitants of high-G worlds will be small by Earth standards. Rugged and powerfully muscled for their size, certainly, but above all sufficiently small as to be able to resist gravity.

Also unlikely to be bipedal, unless their nerves and reactions are much faster than ours. The consequences of falling over in high-G are greater, and the time available to avoid doing so is much less. Think small thick-set centaurs or wallabies.

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Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?

Ja, but these are human colonists.

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Meh

Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?

Same thing. OK, EE was before genetic engineering was on the horizon, so no new body plan. But if you were picking human colonists for a high-G world, you'd select the shortest and most heavily muscled humans you could find. I confidently predict that if the colony survived, the fifth-generation children would be shorter still, more heavily muscled, with denser bone structure, and bigger feet for stability. Think Hobbit weightlifters in this case.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?

> Showing an inability to understand basic physics (and Darwinian evolution).

Its nice to know that the elephant in the room doesn't exist because of Darwin.

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Boffin

Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?

Right. Your mass goes up as a cube but the cross section of your bones goes up as a square, as you get bigger.

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WTF?

Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?

Never EE Doc Smith nor Larry Niven might be thought of as "literature". But I'd say you're a moron if you haven't heard their names - and as tech person you should have read at least one of their books.

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Anonymous Coward

Prior art

Wasn't the Frumious Bandersnatch a Victorian era creation of Dodgson's?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?

I remember first reading the Skylark series back in the 1960s when recovering from being run over. Very enjoyable, at least to a 7 year old. It is was what started me reading Science Fiction and I quickly progressed to the Lensman series, Asimov, Niven, Heinlein, Silverburg, Bradbury and many many others. I even bought the Lensman series again when I was in my twenties just to see if they were as I remember them. They were even better!! I still have the books tucked away in the loft somewhere.

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Re: Prior art

The name was.

He was somewhat vague about its DNA profile and ecological niche though.

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Meh

Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?

An elephant is about the largest land animal (mammoths and dinosaurs were somewhat bigger). But that's on Earth, at 1G.

Consider stumbling and falling. Impact kinetic energy after a fall of any stated distance at 2G is the same as that for a fall of twice the distance at 1G. For a human, a pratfall at 2G would be like falling over the edge of a drop of his own height at 1G. A twelve-foot fall won't always kill you, but it will sooner or later. Big terrestrial animals (horses or larger) often die if they fall while running, but 4-leg stability means such falls are rare enough for the species to survive. Surviving a broken leg is also difficult to impossible for a large animal, and at 2G the load on the legs is doubled for any particular body weight.

Now consider 5G rather than 2G. 5G means the impact from falling over is the same as falling five times your own height on Earth. And consider that with a multiplied G force, you'd have to react many times faster to correct a postural instability before it becomes uncorrectable and results in a fall.

The elephant in the room on a 2G planet will be at most the size of a small pony. Which is good, not least because the maximum possible unsupported roof span will be a lot smaller than on Earth.

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Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?

Doc Smith corrected some of his original High G human adaptations in the D'Alembert series of books. Short Squat densely boned heavily muscled human circus performers who are actually lightning quick super spies.

Wonderful series.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?

> Consider stumbling and falling. Impact kinetic energy after a fall of any stated blah blah blah

Nigel the Fish: There is no point in leaving the ocean. Consider that you will have to support your entire body weight. There will be no ocean protecting you and providing you with buoyancy. If you fall you will hit the ground causing serious injury. All you will ever be able to do is slide around because if you try and stand you will fall and thus be more likely to die and Darwin the Fish says this means standing will be an evolutionary dead end.

AC the fish ignored Nigel and left the ocean. His descendants ended up as giraffes.

Gravity on the planet would only be one contributing factor to evolution. Since the people there will be intelligent (how else will they have got there) factors which may kill off or force a non-intelligent species down one path or another will not have as much (if any) impact on an intelligent species. A broken arm or leg in a human does not result in death. It usually does for an animal.

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Alien

Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?

"The Golden Age of science fiction is twelve."

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Re: Prior art

Wasn't the Frumious Bandersnatch a Victorian era creation of Dodgson's?

Indeed it was.

I think this is what's known as an homage.

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Paris Hilton

Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?

You understand SciFi at twelve? I don't think so.

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Go

Re: Prior art

The name was given by the human colonists, who knew something of their literary history.

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So....

Any chance of putting together an interstellar probe to take a look at this a bit closer up?

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Unhappy

Re: So....

Considering the voyager probes are only something like 0.02 light years away, i fear we will never know in our lifetimes.

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Re: So....

Unless we ever manage to tune in to their TV broadcasts.

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Re: So....

The Great Alien Bake-off. Now you're talking!

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Re: So....

Best bet at the moment for getting results within a lifetime is probably Starwisp.

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Boffin

Re: So....

> Any chance of putting together an interstellar probe to take a look at this a bit closer up?

A more realistic idea is to start to implementing the plans for a really huge telescope in space. That is the only change to peek at it and other exoplanets during our lifetime without breaking any laws of physics.

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Re: So....

But if we could see their TV broadcasts, they'd be 42 years out of date. Would you like to be judged on 1970s Corri St?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So....

"But if we could see their TV broadcasts, they'd be 42 years out of date"

Stop being so negative, they could be thousands of years more advanced than us so we might be receiving a broadcast from our equivalent year of 3979, just before they annihilate us with their advanced weaponry for breaching their copyright law.

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Go

Re: So....

and invalidate all our patents with their prior art.

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Re: So....

earth need a nuclear powered orbital railgun, to blast probes to other stars and comets that will destroy earth, with a aircraft type of slingshot for big probes and cargo

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Headmaster

About that picture caption: "Super-Earth HD40307g alongside its host star"

It's a very nice picture, with oceans and continents and fluffy clouds and everything. Which in the circumstances makes me suspect there really should be an "artist's impression" in that caption somewhere.

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Re: About that picture caption: "Super-Earth HD40307g alongside its host star"

Nah. When the planet's other side comes into view, you will see the addy for the local McDonalds. It's pretty realistic.

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Several g is about 2g if HD40307g has the same density as Earth

Seven times the mass means seven times the gravity only if the plannet is the same radius as Earth. That would be impossible because even osmium - the densest element - is only about four times the density of the Earth. If we pretend the density is the same as Earth then the radius is ³√7 times that of Earth. Gravity decreases with the square of the radius. 7 / (³√7²) = ³√7 ≈ 2.

Chronic exposure (23 generations) to high gravity (2.5g) has been tested on chickens. See: "Great Mambo Chicken & the Transhuman Experience" by Ed Regis.

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Re: Several g is about 2g if HD40307g has the same density as Earth

Given those assumptions the velocity for low orbit will be about 14.5 km/sec and escape velocity about 20.5 km/sec.

For Earth these are 7.8 and 11.kps respectively,

That's going to make getting into space from the surface a bit difficult.

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Re: Several g is about 2g if HD40307g has the same density as Earth

So you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

Then again it might make any hypothetical inhabitants more inventive.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Several g is about 2g if HD40307g has the same density as Earth

@Flocke Kroes - Epic Fail, I'm afraid.

Newton's law of universal gravitation says that the gravitational force between two massive bodies is = G*m1*m2/(r*r) where G is the Gravitational Constant, m1 and m2 are the masses of the two bodies and r is the distance between their centres of mass. The r does not refer to the radius of one the bodies (what if it was not spherical?)

Density does not appear anywhere in Newton's equation.

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Holmes

Re: Several g is about 2g if HD40307g has the same density as Earth

Density does not affect the the total gravitational force exerted by the body but it does affect how large the body is which, in turn, affects how close you are to the centre of gravity of the body when you're stood on it. Less dense planet = larger radius = planet's surface further from planet's centre of gravity = lower surface gravity. More dense planet = smaller radius = planet's surface closer to planet's centre of gravity = higher surface gravity.

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Re: Several g is about 2g if HD40307g has the same density as Earth

AC at 8:10: The r does not refer to the radius of one the bodies...

First: If you're standing on the surface of a planet, then the distance between your center of mass, and that of the planet, is very close to ... wait for it ... the radius of the planet.

True, planets are generally not perfectly spherical, and a planet's center of mass may not be exactly at its geometrical center, and you may be very very tall. But in most cases, the radius of the planet will be a good first approximation for the r in the law of universal gravitation.

Second: Flocke Kroes never said that density "appear[ed] in Newton's equation". He made the - I thought fairly obvious - implication that given the mass of a planet, its density will tell you its volume, and (again assuming a roughly spherical planet) that gives you its radius. Then see point one.

But points for beginning by labeling someone else's post an "Epic Fail". If you're going to go down, you might as well go down fighting, eh?

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Happy

DesPlaines

would be a better example. The planet that Edward Elmer Smiths "Family D'Alembert" came from. They are all short and stocky and very strong. Not EE's best works but fun nonetheless. His best works are probably "The Galaxy Primes" and the later "Lensman" books.

@Cowslayer, cheer up mate. They might invent warp-drive next week. Then again the Aztec Calendar Doom Merchants may be right and we may all be dead come the 21st December. I'm having a party on the 22nd to celebrate that we didn't all die and that they were all wrong,... AGAIN!

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Alert

Re: DesPlaines

Probably not "his best works" because they are not his works at all.

EE wrote a novella using that concept.

His estate authorized Stephen Goldin to use the concept and name to write a series.

10 years after he died.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_D%27Alembert

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Go

another super-Earth planet orbiting a star just 42 light years away from home...

excellent news, start rounding up the lawyers and the marketeers and have a ship prepared.

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Re: another super-Earth planet orbiting a star just 42 light years away from home...

And the phone sanitizers; not really needed after this profligation of cell phones.

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Anonymous Coward

Heavy gravity home world of the Drakk'Har perhaps?

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