#1
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080616/sc_nm/space_planets_dc

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - European researchers said on Monday they discovered a batch of three "super-Earths" orbiting a nearby star, and two other solar systems with small planets as well.


They said their findings, presented at a conference in France, suggest that Earth-like planets may be very common.

"Does every single star harbor planets and, if yes, how many?" asked Michel Mayor of Switzerland's Geneva Observatory. "We may not yet know the answer but we are making huge progress towards it," Mayor said in a statement.

The trio of planets orbit a star slightly less massive than our Sun, 42 light-years away towards the southern Doradus and Pictor constellations. A light-year is the distance light can travel in one year at a speed of 186,000 miles a second, or about 6 trillion miles.

The planets are bigger than Earth -- one is 4.2 times the mass, one is 6.7 times and the third is 9.4 times.

They orbit their star at extremely rapid speeds -- one whizzing around in just four days, compared with Earth's 365 days, one taking 10 days and the slowest taking 20 days.

Mayor and colleagues used the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher or HARPS, a telescope at La Silla observatory in Chile, to find the planets.

More than 270 so-called exoplanets have been found. Most are giants, resembling Jupiter or Saturn. Smaller planets closer to the size of Earth are far more difficult to spot.

None can be imaged directly at such distances but can be spotted indirectly using radio waves or, in the case of HARPS, spectrographic measurements. As a planet orbits, it makes the star wobble very slightly and this can be measured.

"With the advent of much more precise instruments such as the HARPS spectrograph ... we can now discover smaller planets, with masses between 2 and 10 times the Earth's mass," said Stephane Udry, who also worked on the study.

The team also said they found a planet 7.5 times the mass of Earth orbiting the star HD 181433 in 9.5 days. This star also has a Jupiter-like planet that orbits every three years.

Another solar system has a planet 22 times the mass of Earth, orbiting every four days, and a Saturn-like planet with a 3-year period.

"Clearly these planets are only the tip of the iceberg," said Mayor.

"The analysis of all the stars studied with HARPS shows that about one third of all solar-like stars have either super-Earth or Neptune-like planets with orbital periods shorter than 50 days."
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#2
I JUST read this article from Yahoo! And then I buzz over to UG, and read it again. This sorta stuff always intrigues me, and while the planets have no use to us now, it's cool that at least the technology to find planets is getting more sophisticated.
#3
Wow.


We are not alone
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#4
'super-earth'
it never really said what that means...
is it a planet with like, water and plants and stuff?
cause if it's just a big, rocky planet like all the others, i'd say that's a bit of a misnomer
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#5
i agree that its cool to see how our technology is developing. i have a feeling that none of these super-Earths have life because of the fact that Earth is so perfectly made to support life. I'm not saying that there is no possibility for life on other planets, i'm just saying that these planets don't seem right for Earth's carbon based life forms.
#6
Quote by dudius
i agree that its cool to see how our technology is developing. i have a feeling that none of these super-Earths have life because of the fact that Earth is so perfectly made to support life. I'm not saying that there is no possibility for life on other planets, i'm just saying that these planets don't seem right for Earth's carbon based life forms.

Yeah. I read this and I'm like "they only know ANYTHING about the planet because of how it orbits its star, how are they to say it's like Earth?
#8
Meh, don't care.
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#9
Quote by FireMadeFlesh
Yeah. I read this and I'm like "they only know ANYTHING about the planet because of how it orbits its star, how are they to say it's like Earth?


Because mass usually determines alot about the life of these things. So if it is about our size, chances are its going to have some similarities.
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#10
I just wish we had the technology to make our craft cover vast distances quicker so we could research other galaxies and planets.

Engage light Speed!
#12
Quote by _Tenacious_
Because mass usually determines alot about the life of these things. So if it is about our size, chances are its going to have some similarities.

I'd think distance from the star, rotation speed, and revolution speed would have a lot more to do with it...but I'm no cosmologist.

I'm sure mass is a factor as well, but the balance is such that any one attribute can not be absent.
#13
Quote by dunkelblau
'super-earth'
it never really said what that means...
is it a planet with like, water and plants and stuff?
cause if it's just a big, rocky planet like all the others, i'd say that's a bit of a misnomer



They call it a super earth because it's so much more massive than earth
#14
Do they think there is life on those planets?
GOODBYE BLUE SKY
#15
Quote by M.O.P
Do they think there is life on those planets?


They're probably just planets within the distance that would allow for liquid water on the surface.
#16
im not sure wat they mean by super earth, Im thinking that with the speed they travel around their sun the seasons would be pretty screwed up. so i doubt they would support life. never know though i guess.
#17
Right, slightly unrelated, and presumably a pretty impossible question, but here we go:
Has there been any research into what method a spacecraft would have to use to achieve lightspeed? Because im guessing it wouldnt involve normal fuel type engines or the like, so, how would they be theoretically powered?
Just a dumbass question i know....
Last edited by ElectricString at Jun 17, 2008,