Astronomers: Earth's 'bigger cousin' detected

emw

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(SPACE.com) -- Astronomers announced Monday the discovery of the smallest planet so far found outside of our solar system.

About seven-and-a-half times as massive as Earth, and about twice as wide, this new extrasolar planet may be the first rocky world ever found orbiting a star similar to our own.

"This is the smallest extrasolar planet yet detected and the first of a new class of rocky terrestrial planets," said team member Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "It's like Earth's bigger cousin."
Sounds like it's too close to its sun to support Earth-like life, but you never know. It's amazing that we're able to detect objects this small that are 15 light years away.
 

thedude110

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Jun 13, 2005
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Bigger Cousins

If this planet is anything like my bigger cousins, the news doesn't bode very well for earth ...
 

Mr. Anderson

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hmm, that much more mass and twice as wide - if I dug around I'd be able to determine the gravity of the planet.....I'm sure it would be more than enough to make it unlivable for humans. Not to mention the ?v would be huge compared to earth, and landing or lifting off would take technology far beyond what we have now.

But then again, we're not exactly going to be visiting it any time soon. :p

D
 

Brother Michael

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It seems like a lot of wasted space if we are alone.

I don't try to think about astronomy anymore. I kept giving myself headaches trying to comprehend it all.

Mike
 

chibianh

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I don't know about you guys, but this is awesome news. The fact that it's the smallest, and first rocky planet, discovered means that many more smaller rocky planets will be discovered. This one orbits its star in less than 2 days, so it's very close.. and hot! This one was detected using the traditionally 'wobble' method. Future methods will no doubt find something small and earth like! It's only a few years away now that we will be able to take pictures of planets orbiting other stars.

I can't wait to see what other rocky planets will be discovered in the next few years. This can only be the start of something good.
 

Mr. Anderson

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chibianh said:
I don't know about you guys, but this is awesome news. The fact that it's the smallest, and first rocky planet, discovered means that many more smaller rocky planets will be discovered.

Of course its great news - its just a matter of time before we find another planet that has the same mass and orbital distance as Earth. Whether or not it has life, intelligent or otherwise is another matter altogether.

D
 

clayj

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Mr. Anderson said:
hmm, that much more mass and twice as wide - if I dug around I'd be able to determine the gravity of the planet.....I'm sure it would be more than enough to make it unlivable for humans. Not to mention the ?v would be huge compared to earth, and landing or lifting off would take technology far beyond what we have now.
Surface gravity for a planet with that size and mass would be about 2.75 G, I think. You'd have to perform extensive physiological modification to allow humans to walk on the surface in an Earthlike manner.
 

chibianh

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clayj said:
Surface gravity for a planet with that size and mass would be about 2.75 G, I think. You'd have to perform extensive physiological modification to allow humans to walk on the surface in an Earthlike manner.
shorter, stumpier, musclebound humans!
 

clayj

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chibianh said:
shorter, stumpier, musclebound humans!
Actually, that's quite right.

I used to do some writing for the Game Designers' Workshop RPG 2300 AD (a.k.a. Traveller: 2300), and one of the human-colonized worlds in that game (King) had a surface gravity of 3.08 G and an atmosphere contaminated with sulfur. The humans who lived there (Americans and Australians) had to undergo genetic modification in order to survive... they were shorter and stockier, with reinforced bones and muscles. Their hearts were strengthened, and their blood pressures were sky-high (a slight laceration could cause a fountain of blood to spray across the room). Their average lifespan was only 50 years, because of the strain of living in 3 Gs.
 

aloofman

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Mr. Anderson said:
Of course its great news - its just a matter of time before we find another planet that has the same mass and orbital distance as Earth. Whether or not it has life, intelligent or otherwise is another matter altogether.

D
It might not have to have the same mass and distance to its star. The star's temperature could be different and the planet could have a different density for its size. Many combinations could still yield a similar gravitational force and temperature at the surface.

Pretty cool to think about though. The big limitation is that it's hard for us to detect planets as small as the Earth. Even most of the giant planets we've found have only been detected by the wobble in the star's movement. Assuming we can find a more accurate way of detecting planets in other systems, that would open up a lot more places for us to look.
 

stubeeef

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Aug 10, 2004
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Brother Michael said:
It seems like a lot of wasted space if we are alone.
That is one of my favorite all time movies, I love the conflict between science and faith. Carl did good with it.

I think I would be alot heavier there, and believe you me, that aint good!
It is cool that they are finding these "smaller" ones, there is so much more to discover though, like why snail mail gets to the outer planets and back faster than in town mail does (anyone remember the bugs bunny cartoon on that!? :p :p ).
 

Mr. Anderson

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Well, plans are in the works for the replacement of the Hubble, and its job is for finding planets - so in the decade or so, we'll probably find hundreds if not thousands of extra-solar planets. Its going to be a very interesting decade for astronomy.

D
 

rockthecasbah

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clayj said:
Actually, that's quite right.

I used to do some writing for the Game Designers' Workshop RPG 2300 AD (a.k.a. Traveller: 2300), and one of the human-colonized worlds in that game (King) had a surface gravity of 3.08 G and an atmosphere contaminated with sulfur. The humans who lived there (Americans and Australians) had to undergo genetic modification in order to survive... they were shorter and stockier, with reinforced bones and muscles. Their hearts were strengthened, and their blood pressures were sky-high (a slight laceration could cause a fountain of blood to spray across the room). Their average lifespan was only 50 years, because of the strain of living in 3 Gs.
That may be true HERE, but to think that about an unknown planet is quite arrogant. Not everything is human based and is revolved around us. Actually, due to the age of some planets in comparison to other galaxies and stuff, we are likely to have been derived from others if anything. So much for the bible creation ;)
 

stubeeef

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rockthecasbah said:
That may be true HERE, but to think that about an unknown planet is quite arrogant. Not everything is human based and is revolved around us. Actually, due to the age of some planets in comparison to other galaxies and stuff, we are likely to have been derived from others if anything. So much for the bible creation ;)

:confused:
 

Mr. Anderson

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rockthecasbah said:
That may be true HERE, but to think that about an unknown planet is quite arrogant. Not everything is human based and is revolved around us. Actually, due to the age of some planets in comparison to other galaxies and stuff, we are likely to have been derived from others if anything. So much for the bible creation ;)

um, you missed the point - in the game he was talking about, humans colonized the planet, but to do so they need to be genetically engineered to survive. Their size and characteristics where based on a form follows function design concept. We're not talking Captain Kirk here.... :D

D
 

wdlove

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Oct 20, 2002
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Discoveries like this is always good news. Our remaining frontier. Hopefully in our lifetime we will find a planet like earth.

This one is quite inhospitable.

Orbiting so close to its star, scientists speculate that the planet's temperature is a toasty 400 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit (200 to 400 degrees Celsius). This is likely too hot for the planet to retain much gas, like Jupiter does. Therefore, the planet must be mostly solid.
 

rockthecasbah

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Mr. Anderson said:
um, you missed the point - in the game he was talking about, humans colonized the planet, but to do so they need to be genetically engineered to survive. Their size and characteristics where based on a form follows function design concept. We're not talking Captain Kirk here.... :D

D
I see what you're saying, i was a bit distracted when i read it but clearly you are correct. I got kinda annoyed though because whenever in school we talk about this stuff everything it is always based off of human existance rather than thought of the other way around... :eek:
 

Mr. Anderson

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rockthecasbah said:
I see what you're saying, i was a bit distracted when i read it but clearly you are correct. I got kinda annoyed though because whenever in school we talk about this stuff everything it is always based off of human existance rather than thought of the other way around... :eek:

Well, anthorpomorphization of things we don't understand or know helps us figure it out. Its a simplistic point of view, but one that pretty much everyone can understand and relate to. And we'll continue to do so until someone comes along and shows us a *different* point of view :D

D
 

ham_man

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Jan 21, 2005
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Cool discovery. Gotta hand it too astronomers for having such good eyes...;)

Maybe we will colonize it in my lifetime... :rolleyes:
 

Mr. Anderson

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ham_man said:
Maybe we will colonize it in my lifetime... :rolleyes:

I could see the moon being colonized in the next 50 years and maybe Mars. Its going to require some sort of scifi tech (stardrive, hyperdrive, etc.) before we get to put our feet on any planets outside our solar system. That or uncovering alien technology on the moon..... :p

D
 

MongoTheGeek

macrumors 68040
clayj said:
Surface gravity for a planet with that size and mass would be about 2.75 G, I think. You'd have to perform extensive physiological modification to allow humans to walk on the surface in an Earthlike manner.
It has double the diameter. 8* the mass that puts rho close to earths.
With a constant density surface gravity is proportional to radius.

g=G*M/r^2
M=4/3 pi* rho*r^3
g = G*4/3*pi*rho*r
g is proportional to r.

Now given that. 2 g environments are survivable for healthy unassisted humans. They wouldn't be pleasant but they would be survivable.

The temperature would be the big thing. The planet is probably tidally locked which means that it might be survivable on the far side.
 

Mr. Anderson

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MongoTheGeek said:
The temperature would be the big thing. The planet is probably tidally locked which means that it might be survivable on the far side.
Hmm, but if it has an atmosphere, there would be some wicked storms, and when the hot wind blows, it might just fry anything in its path that happens to be friable :D

There have been quite a few sci fi books that have had planets tidally locked and humans live in the permanent twilight zone. I don't know if this would be one of them, though. Unless there's something worth while on the planet to mine/harvest.

My guess is dispense with humans and just send robots - humans could be in orbit on the far side in permanent eclipse of the sun.

D
 

clayj

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Mr. Anderson said:
Unless there's something worth while on the planet to mine/harvest.
In 2300 AD, the planet King (the one with the 3.08 Gs) turned out to be a virtually-limitless treasure trove of metal ore, especially tantalum, which was used to build stardrives. So it made sense to do whatever was necessary, including DNA modification, to get people on the surface and extracting ore.

Otherwise, you're right. Lots of different metals can be found in asteroids, which live in zero G and are therefore much more viable targets for exploitation.
 
Mr. Anderson said:
I could see the moon being colonized in the next 50 years and maybe Mars.
Other than the launch from Earth and the landing wherever, it's hard to imagine something more mind-numbing than colonizing a lifeless rock. I guess there are enough home-bodies that wouldn't mind as long as they got TV and a fast internet connection, but if you step outside, our home planet ROCKS!!

Obviously future worlds will be colonized by the nerds of the world who have no qualms about spending years in a can traveling to spend the rest of their life in a can, or a can on wheels, or a flexible can (space-suit).

Just the thought of that makes me want to hug a tree. ;)