Feeds

back to article Boffins spot 7 ALIEN WORLDS right in our galactic backyard

Boffins are putting together a new catalogue of all the confirmed planets that could harbour extraterrestrial life, with seven worlds in our Milky Way making the list so far. Seven worlds in the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog The Habitable Exoplanets Catalog, a project of the Planetary Habitability Lab at the University of …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Stop

Boffins?

Just because you're a redtop doesn't mean that ... oh whatever.

1
11
Gold badge

Re: Boffins?

You must be new here. Welcome.

1
0
TRT
Silver badge

Sheeeeeeeeetttttt!!!!

When that image came up, I thought they'd photographed the almost completed Dalek Reality-Bomb hidden inside the Medusa Cascade!

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Sheeeeeeeeetttttt!!!!

That would be impossible, it has been time shifted by one second to make it appear invisible to probes.

1
0
TRT
Silver badge

Re: Time shifted by one second...

Nah, just use a longer exposure.

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Sheeeeeeeeetttttt!!!!

"That would be impossible, it has been time shifted by one second to make it appear invisible to probes."

You forget a certain mobile phone powered Torchwood radio transmitter allowing those with advanced enough technology to follow the signal through the time-shift.

I have also just decided to go get a life.

0
0

Isn't it time that someone made Christmas baubles that looked like that?

They would look great hanging off the tree!

0
0
Silver badge

baubles

You can -- there was a link on I Fucking Love Science on Facebook the other day

2
0
Silver badge

Re: baubles

http://glasssculpture.org/artglass/holiday/ornaments.html

1
0

Re: baubles

http://glasssculpture.org/artglass/holiday/ornaments.html

And here IS that link!

But at $345 for the Solar System.... *gulp*

Don't think I'll get that past the missus!

2
0
Trollface

Thor - Marvel films teach us so much...

They ARE hanging off a tree! Yggdrasil (look it up), as explained by Thor (sorry, The Mighty Thor), is the 'world-tree' and we are all hanging off its branches.

I laugh in scorn at those deluded fools who think we're on the back of a turtle! As the hammered one said, we're all well-hung from a tree.

0
0
Silver badge
Go

Make your own!

Why pay ripoff prices when you can easily make your own planetary Christmas tree ornaments as a fun project for the whole family?

Go here: http://eo.nso.edu/node/26

All you need is some polystyrene/plastic balls (I suppose you can use existing ornaments if you can't source these), some string, and the Waldseemüller maps on that page, designed to be printed out and wrapped onto a sphere. It provides complete instructions on how to make your own planetary tree ornaments.

0
0

How accurate can they be?

If they were looking at our solar system from afar would they classify Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars as potentially habitable or just Earth?

2
0

Re: How accurate can they be?

Probably depends on how big they think they are, and the rules are derived from here anyway. Earth is fairly near the inside edge of the habitability belt, Mars is usually considered to be a bit far out. If Mars was bigger then that may nudge it towards habitable.

0
0
JDX
Gold badge

Re: How accurate can they be?

Well Venus surely SHOULD be categorised as POTENTIALLY habitable by any scan which can't measure atmospheric conditions. They presumably want false positives rather than ruling planets out as well.

Anyone - can we even tell Venus is uninhabitable from Earth-based telescopes, or only from probe data?

0
0
Silver badge

Re: How accurate can they be?

I believe there's some method having to do with the refraction of light through the atmosphere that allowed up to make some good educated guesses about the gasses in Venus' atmosphere before we were able to send probes out. It wasn't perfect by any stretch, but it was enough for us to know that we can't breath there. However the same technique can't be used for exoplanets. They're just too far away for us to see them that well. The guesses they're making now aren't likely to be anywhere near as accurate as the ones they made about planets in our own neighborhood.

0
0
Boffin

Re: How accurate can they be?

I believe they've been able to make some progress on the composition of some extrasolar planet's atmospheres by picking up changes to the star's spectrograph. Can't find the story now.

0
0
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: How accurate can they be?

@ JDX

Through a terrestrial telescope you can do basic spectography of Venus' atmosphere and cross it off the habitable list once you get back a reading that tells you that the atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: How accurate can they be?

from the atmospheric composition you can also figure out venus has a super greenhouse effect and the surface is many hundreds of degrees C

0
0
Headmaster

"with seven worlds in our Milky Way making the list so far"

Well I'd be impressed if they could detect a planet in Andromeda!

3
0
Alien

Exactly - I imagine it will be quite some time before they are able to detect planets around a star in another galaxy, whether or not they could harbour extraterrestrial life.

0
0
Silver badge
Alien

extragalactic exoplanet

A quick search brings up http://www.gizmag.com/exoplanet-outside-galaxy/17055/

It seems that they can detect planets in other galaxies.

No one would have believed, in the years of the twenty-first century, that human affairs were being watched from the timeless galaxies of space.

3
2
Facepalm

Re: extragalactic exoplanet

Sorry ukgnome; close, but no banana.

The star that that exoplanet (HIP 13044 b) orbits is actually inside our galaxy, and is a mere 2000 light years away. The star originated elsewhere, but was captured by the milky way at some point.

As far as I'm aware, they can't yet detect exoplanets that are actually inside other galaxies.

0
0
Silver badge

Damn!

Fair do's - missed the whole captured by the milky way bit.

1
0
Silver badge
Alien

I for one welcome

Our new, if somewhat controversial, Gliesian overlords!

p.s. Did they include Sol III in that list?

0
0
Silver badge

Names

Couldn't they call one of them Lave?

6
0
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Names

Jita? But don't send any probes there as they might end up stuck in slow time :)

1
0
Black Helicopters

Re: Names - Jita?

What, and get ganked?

Its a capsule not a black helicopter.

2
0
Boffin

Drake?

I wonder what this does to the Drake formula. I suppose we would have to know what proportion of stars are known not to have planets, which this article doesn't hint at.

1
0
MJF

Re: Drake?

Not much change, I'd think. The Drake formula is just a long catalogue of things you would need to know to make an informed estimate of the likelihood of life elsewhere: values for all the terms were guesses depending on how keen you were for SETI funding. Fraction of stars with planets was an optimistic guess of around 1.0; just a guess. All we have now is a tiny bit of data suggesting there may be a a lot of planets, making the fraction somewhere in the range >0 to 1.0.

Still no information on all the other terms in the equation.

(I do wonder at the habitability index: for all we know, that's a guess too, and we may as well be using OLGA's formula of Gy=c)

2
0
Alien

Alfheim, Jotunheim, Asgard...

1
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Maybe other lifeforms don't need liquid water

0
0

Then they would be very simple lifeforms.

It's been a while since I looked at a biology textbook, but I recall that water is involved in many of the biological processes of lifeforms more complex than bacteria.

0
0
JDX
Gold badge

On Earth yes. Is it safe to assume all life requires water-based processes?

2
0
Paris Hilton

Silicone lifeforms anyone?

Or for that matter, life with ammonia serving as the pervasive solvent. Or, for that matter, any amount of other weird sh*t that no-one has yet proved impossible.

Spock: "We've never seen anything like this before captain"

Jim:"You mean apart from the weird energy-being last episode"

Spock:"Well, apart from that one we've never seen anything like this before"

Jim:"And what about three weeks ago?"

Spock:"That one was different"

3
0
Coat

I really wish they would hurry up and find a new home to live on as we only have just over a week left according to the Mayans :)

1
0

sorry but ain't ever gonna happen

no new home for us, ..ever

we evolved on this earth after a long history of unlikely events, earth formed roughly 4.5 billion years ago within a billion years there was likely some form of life so ups for that but it took until roughly 600 million years ago for multi-celluar life to form and even more important during the vast majority of the last 600 million years earth atmosphere/biosphere was incredibly toxic to us. In 600 million more years the sun will likely be bright enough to reduce life back down to single cell lifeforms.

So, we humans/mammals/animalia evolved within a specific environment at a very specific time, that is the result of a long history of life/chemical and interstellar accidents .. even if we could time travel the vast majority of earth's history would be incredibly toxic to us, this include the last 600 million years, if even one of those historic accidents had rolled different results, the moon, purple winning over green photosynthesis, right handed over left handed molecules and so on to things much more trivial, we would not only not be here, but the here would be toxic to us.

So even if we find a planet roughly the same size and composition, and while were at it day/night rotation , orbiting a similar star at a similar distance, with a living carbon based biosphere that just happens to be in the incredibly small percentage of its existence where complex multiple cellular organisms actually exist and have built a biosphere which is not toxic to us, and lets just say not only does it meet this incredibly improbable string of coincidence but is close enough within our light envelop that actual travel to it is possible, and of course there is no "native" intelligent life-form which with all of these conditions is the only one thats likely , not only would it be likely credibly difficult and unpleasant to occupy but from any ecological biological perspective morally reprehensible

... * and breath

so basically ... beside uncomfortable cramped temporary lodgings in space, this is our one home, the only place we will ever, ever, be able to go about in short sleeves

... and I think we broke it.

1
2

sorry but ain't ever gonna happen

no new home for us, ..ever

we evolved on this earth after a long history of unlikely events, earth formed roughly 4.5 billion years ago within a billion years there was likely some form of life so ups for that but it took until roughly 600 million years ago for multi-celluar life to form and even more important during the vast majority of the last 600 million years earth atmosphere/biosphere was incredibly toxic to us. In 600 million more years the sun will likely be bright enough to reduce life back down to single cell lifeforms.

So, we humans/mammals/animalia evolved within a specific environment at a very specific time, that is the result of a long history of life/chemical and interstellar accidents .. even if we could time travel the vast majority of earth's history would be incredibly toxic to us, this includes the last 600 million years, and if even one of those historic accidents had rolled different results, the moon, purple winning over green photosynthesis, right handed over left handed molecules and so on to things much more trivial, we would not only not be here, but the here would likely be incredibly toxic to us.

So even if we find a planet roughly the same size and composition, and while were at it day/night rotation , orbiting a similar star at a similar distance, with a living carbon based biosphere that just happens to be in the incredibly small percentage of its existence where complex multiple cellular organisms actually exist and also by incredibly unlikely random chance have built a biosphere which is not fundlementally toxic to us, and lets just say not only does it meet this incredibly improbable string of coincidence but is close enough within our light envelop that actual travel to it is possible, and of course there is no "native" intelligent life-form which with all of these conditions is the only one thats likely , not only would it be likely credibly difficult and unpleasant to occupy but from any ecological biological conservational perspective morally reprehensible cause the one thing we've proven about us is that we can screw a biosphere up.

... * and breath

so basically ... beside uncomfortable cramped temporary lodgings in space, this is our one home, the only place we will ever, ever, be able to go about in short sleeves,

... and I think we broke it.

its our room, we should clean it up.

0
2
Silver badge
Thumb Down

Re: sorry but ain't ever gonna happen

Thanks for the Rare Earth screed, but all those "unlikely" circumstances merely resulted in intelligent life exactly like us being here. Implicit in your diatribe is the assumption that we're the best case scenario, and no other set of circumstances could have resulted in complex or intelligent life appearing sooner than us, or being smarter than us. That's quite a wild assumption to make, given that we have direct knowledge and experience of exactly one world Earth-like world where life has arisen, and exactly zero Earth-like worlds where life has not arisen.

If things had been different, we wouldn't have been here, but it says nothing about the possibility of other intelligent life being here in our place. Given the range of possibilities and how soon it is on geologic timescales since our intelligence arose, sure, changing some might have killed the chances of complex or intelligent life, or delayed it by hundreds of millions of years. But changing others might have resulted in it happening much more quickly, and whoever lived here now might have flying cars and interstellar travel that would have spread them to a few of these Earth-like worlds.

Who's to say whether the particular set of circumstances that resulted in us happening now was good or bad luck, measured against the question "how soon does intelligent life arrive?" We have no idea whether our appearance on the scene now is extremely good fortune unlikely to be repeated again throughout an entire galaxy, or just about the worst case scenario and intelligence is a billion years late on the scene compared to the expected average for an Earth-like world. Maybe we're the smartest life in the history of the visible universe, or maybe some of those who inhabit our galaxy have pets more intelligent than us.

4
0
JDX
Gold badge

Re: sorry but ain't ever gonna happen

It doesn't matter if there are no other planets on which we could just step out of a ship and wander about. Thinking in the long-term, terraforming or building sizable closed cities are both feasible. EVolving to suit an environment is one thing; a technologically advanced species is another.

0
0

Re: sorry but ain't ever gonna happen

no.

... seriously, you need to read twice before you respond, or at least need to work on yir reading comprehension

I said nothing denying the possibility other intelligence life, ... except they would have to be the result of the same series of unlikely events as we did.

The fact that we do exist proves nothing other than that it happen once, if it didn't we wouldn't have been arround to notice, what i actually did say is that even if we do find another planet with all the necessary requirements for life, (and one of those requirements for at least our particular form of life is the existence of previous life so it has a biosphere, and a long series of historic events that made this particular earth biosphere) and even if by an extreme coincidence it happens result in a biosphere that isn't toxic to us, (and according to our own earths history- the only one we have to study- such biospheres are rare, existing a few million ... maybe at a stretch a couple 100 million years out of roughly 4 billion + year history), and such a planet just happens to be in the right range that we could get there in the narrow window that such conditions continue to exist ... that even then,

.. and even if there wasn't already intelligent life, (which again going by the only history we have and considering we aint found ant dinosaur nuclear powerplants or fossilized cars seems likely), ... even then,

well,

.... even then,if would still be illogical, hugely impractical, and just plan wrong to colonize another world.

we are likely never gonna have the chance and even if we did we'd be idiots to do so.

as far as other culture having pets as smart as us, ... a kinda pointless attribute in a pet, yes?, ... why would that allow us to live on their worlds?

I don't see yir point at all

1
1

Re: sorry but ain't ever gonna happen

yes in theory we could terraform a planet, and genetically alter us as it seem likely we would have to meet the planet at least half way, but why?

Ignoring the moral ethical objections of destroying an existing biosphere, lets assume this is a barren world, like maybe mars, there is still the fundamental question of motivation.

the technology and timescale involved in even the most optimistic estimations on what would be required are on the extreme end of any imaginable civilization scale. Were talking a project that from our current historical perspective would have been started by the ancient Mesopotamians and still not be half done.

Also any attempt of starting such a project would almost certainly preclude the ability of us to survive for extended periods in space.

So the mayor question is once we, assuming we actually do, learn to survive in space, in large habitats, hollowed out asteroids, or floating bubbles of nano-foam, why would we go back down the gravity well?

ignoring the immediate cost, would life on such a terraformed planet be safer?

I don't see how?

yes your buying yourself a large gravitational mass the hide behind and perhaps an atmosphere, maybe even a magnetic field if your very very lucky or clever, but in order to even start this project you already would have already had to solve the issues of survivability in weightlessness and space born radiation.

Resources?.. if our own solar system is an example it appears there are far more easily accessible resources floating around out side of planetary gravity wells than down them.

Does a planet buy you more security? I don't see how, ignoring seismic upheaval, atmospheric feedback loops, orbital permutations, and countless other issues planets have they also lack the one fundamental advantage of a space habitat ... the ability to get out of the way.

The best defence is to not be there to get hit.

Then we are back to time scale, were roughly halfway thru the estimated 1200 million year period that our planet is likely capable of supporting multi-cellular life on it surface at this distance from the sun, this is assuming things continue peacefully, that the sun doesn't burp us to a cinder that a local gamma ray event or supernova, or any other countless other thin we don't yet know about doesn't scours us clean.

If we were gonna spend millions if not tens of millions of years building a home wouldn't it be nice to take it with us when the neighbourhood went south? If were talking about civilizations with the technology and timescale of planning of doing such a thing I admit we have no idea of their motivation, they could just being doing it to watch it burn prettily, but this still seems unlikely.

The problem here is that we have certain tropes in our thinking, We live on earth, earth is a planet, there are other planets, we will live on them. The issue is that in order to get to them we necessarily undergo a shift in perspective, the amount of resources and effort to make planets livable is so huge and the advantages and reason for doing so becomes so small that once we have the ability to do so, if we ever do, we can't see the reason why we would want to.

This doesn't fit the amazing world of science fiction image we all grew up on, but very little we actually learn does.

0
0

Do other beings have catalogs?

Every now and then, we discover life on our own planet in places we thought it close to impossible.

So, whilst I wonder how many catalogs we are in, more to the point I wonder how many catalogs we were considered for, but rejected as being unsuitable for supporting life?

2
0

Re: Do other beings have catalogs?

Indeed, with all that nasty highly-reactive oxygen in the atmosphere who could possibly imagine a planet like this being able to support life?

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Do other beings have catalogs?

"Every now and then, we discover life on our own planet in places we thought it close to impossible."

But it's all descended (evolved) from the original life. As of yet we haven't discovered a form of life that has appeared independently which seriously throws into doubt the idea that the emergence of life on Earth-like planets has a high probability.

0
0
Silver badge
Alien

I'm sure they are just hiding from us

I'd hide from us too.

2
0
Bronze badge

Sentient Life?

If the number of potentially life supporting planets is so low, I wonder what the chances are of finding a planet with sentient life?

Of all the life on this planet; the six billion or so humans make up less than 1% of the total biomass, the percentage of those humans that are actually sentient is even smaller (especially where I live).

So the chance of having to Kow Tow to our Galactic Overlords is very small!

Incidentally, the reason why the life supporting band is so narrow and restricted to those planets with liquid water is because life as we know it (JIm) is chemically very complicated and involves mostly compounds involving Hydrogen , Carbon and Oxygen with bits of other elements and compounds thrown in. For these complicated bits of chemistry to work at their best needs a powerful solvent that supports these reactions, liquid water does this better than almost anything.

Unless anyone knows better!

3
1
Silver badge

Re: Sentient Life?

Also think about how long it took for us to appear. With over 500 million years of life on Earth no sentient life appeared (until very recently), which suggests the chance of a life bearing planet evolving a sentient species is very low.

In addition it looks like life only originated once on Earth. Ie all species known to date share a common ancestor. If the emergence of life on a planet such as ours was easy, why didn't it emerge countless times?

Then again life did emerge very early in Earth's history - at least while it was plausible.

This suggests the possibility that only a former state of Earth was able to spawn life. Otherwise why haven't different strains of life appeared in the last 500 million years? We've seen the same originating life evolve, but nothing new appear (unless it died out).

0
0

Sounds great but...

All this is all well and good but does it really matter? Weve not managed to reach mars yet our greatest hope nasa dont even have any ships/shuttles anymore and weve not made any real leaps or research breaks in space travel since we put a man on the moon, knowing the existence of these planets is all well and good but its like spotting france from dover when we cant even swim, we need to concentrate resources on what really matters actually getting out there

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.