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Space Science

Richest Planetary System Discovered With 7 Planets 245

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the hope-they-have-roddenberries dept.
eldavojohn writes "The European Southern Observatory has announced that with the aid of their 190 HARPS measurements they have found the solar system with the most planets yet. Furthermore they claim 'This remarkable discovery also highlights the fact that we are now entering a new era in exoplanet research: the study of complex planetary systems and not just of individual planets. Studies of planetary motions in the new system reveal complex gravitational interactions between the planets and give us insights into the long-term evolution of the system.' The star is HD 10180, located 127 light-years away in the southern constellation of Hydrus, that boasts at least five planets (with two more expected) that have the equivalent of our own Titius–Bode law (their orbits follow a regular pattern). Their survey of stars also helped reinforce the correlation 'between the mass of a planetary system and the mass and chemical content of its host star. All very massive planetary systems are found around massive and metal-rich stars, while the four lowest-mass systems are found around lower-mass and metal-poor stars.' While we won't be making a 127 light-year journey anytime soon, the list of candidates for systems of interest grows longer."
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Richest Planetary System Discovered With 7 Planets

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:01PM (#33361456)

    For everyone here who has seen a lot of science fiction movies or lived in a trailer park where hillbilly meth-heads are routinely abducted by little green men, you might want to keep in mind that 127 light years is a very long way--an almost unimaginable distance, in fact. Most people have absolutely no appreciation for interstellar distances in general (when I was a wee lad, for example, I thought that the next solar system began right at the edge of our own). Let's put it this way: our fastest craft take about 9 years or so to go from the Earth to Pluto. At that same speed, it would take about 125,000 years to reach our next door neighbor (Proxima Centauri). And that's a mere 4.2 light years away (right in our cosmic back yard).

    So if you're planning a visit to this newly discovered system, you'd better pack for about a 4-million-year trip, one way.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:12PM (#33361658)
    I will when Moore's Law applies to propulsion.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:31PM (#33362008)
    The rumor is they found some rather complex systems with the Kepler space-probe and will announce that on Aug 26. That probe stares at the same 150K patch of stars for years at a time looking for star-dimming indicative of transisting planet. Other phenomena cause dimming, so they examine the light curve carefully and look for periodic orbital repeats to establish planets. There were several hundred dimmings observed the first few months of operation. Probably many times that by now. Some of this dimming data has been released to the public already. Some is reserved for astronomers to double-check with other instruments.
  • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:32PM (#33362020)

    Don't know if you're being serious or not, so I'll be as succinct as possible. The fastest that a message can be sent to or from anywhere is the speed of light, which might be fast enough for you to waldo a robot on the other side of the planet, but even going out as far as the moon would be a frustrating experience, asking your robot arm to move and it doesn't respond for a few seconds. Sending information (or a physical object obviously) faster than the speed of light leads to violations of causality, which every experiment and human experience today has indicated isn't how the world works.

  • Re:Richest? (Score:5, Informative)

    by city (1189205) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:48PM (#33362228)
    4 years ago [wired.com] today we lost her... anniversarys are hard.
  • Re:GTFO (Score:3, Informative)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:53PM (#33362300) Journal

    Solar does not mean star. I don't know who taught you that, but they are wrong. Solar means The Sun (and is extrapolated to incorporate everything directly influenced by The Sun). The Sun (Also known as Sol) is the only one known as THE Sun and thus we call it THE Solar system.

    Only rarely does someone innacurately call another star A sun, because its actually a star, and not THE sun. You'll notice they even said in the summary

    The star is HD 10180, located 127 light-years away...

    They didn't say "The sun is HD 10180..."

    So, to review, there is only one The Sun, AKA Sol, and the system of planets around it is known as The Solar System. Everything else is a star, and thus should be a star system. You could say they have discovered a star system, known as the HD 10180 system, which includes 7 planets.

    Jeffrey, regardless of how much he smells, is quite correct in the astrological terminology.

  • Re:Richest? (Score:3, Informative)

    by DJRumpy (1345787) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @06:46PM (#33362930)

    Not likely given this 1.4 mass planet is one of the two 'missing' planets, and the other is a gas giant with 65 Earth masses. Still an exciting discovery:

    From TFA:

    “We also have good reasons to believe that two other planets are present,” says Lovis. One would be a Saturn-like planet (with a minimum mass of 65 Earth masses) orbiting in 2200 days. The other would be the least massive exoplanet ever discovered, with a mass of about 1.4 times that of the Earth. It is very close to its host star, at just 2 percent of the Earth–Sun distance. One “year” on this planet would last only 1.18 Earth-days.

  • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @06:51PM (#33362970)

    It's funny that you should mention that. They are already developing new propulsion systems that no longer require solid rocket fuel. This one for instance can shorten the trip to mars to just about 3 months:

    Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket

    http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/shuttle/support/researching/aspl/index.html [nasa.gov]

    The Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory is developing a new type of rocket technology, the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket. This plasma rocket drive is not powered by conventional chemical reactions as todays rockets are, but by electrical energy that heats the propellant. The propellant is a plasma that reaches extreme temperatures 50,000 and above. Some scientists call this the fourth state of matter.

    This new type of technology could dramatically shorten human transit times between planets (about 3 months to Mars). Not only will planetary missions be fast, but the plasma drive will propel robotic cargo missions with very large payloads (more than 100 tons to Mars). Trip times and payloads are major concerns when using conventional rockets.

  • Re:Richest? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Your.Master (1088569) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @08:29PM (#33363994)

    I'm right with you on basically everything else you said, but I'd still like to suggest that in modern usage, "its" should be used for the possessive. Yes, it breaks the "rule" that you put an apostrophe for the possessive. It's a standard and useful convention that resolves ambiguity, and I can see essentially no benefit to allowing "it's" for the possessive other than shutting up pretentious douches on forums - which, don't get me wrong, is a noble pursuit.

    I don't see why the rule of "its vs. it's" is any more baseless than the rule I'm inferring from your argument, "an s added to indicate the possessive is always [either allowed to or required] to have an apostrophe prepended". I have, at least, the OED backing me up on this.

    If you go back far enough, you can find very strange spelling, grammar, words, and even letters in the English language, but that doesn't have much bearing on what's easy to understand today.

    Also, insisting that flammable is not a word is a little odd. It's in lots of dictionaries, has latin roots semi-independent of the roots of inflammable, and came into English in the 19th century. Thus, it fits the prescriptivist view as well as the descriptivist one. Yes, inflammable is slightly older.

    I would enjoy a world very much where people stopped getting pissy about starting a sentence with "and" or "because", or splitting infinitives, or other things that are perfectly valid, commonly used, and don't hurt much of anything.

  • by Warbothong (905464) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:55AM (#33366780) Homepage

    Wait a second here, this sounds familiar.

    When A arrives, he/she quickly pulls out a telescope or some such device, turns around, and watches her own arrival. How can she already be there if she is just arriving?

    When the speed of sound is broken by a jet, they could actually fly for quite a while, stop, turn around, and then hear the sound of them arriving. Why should light be any different? I don't understand why light and time are seen together. I think it should be something more akin to a sort of faster version of sound..except it's light.

    Indeed, the example given was flawed in the way you describe: the light != the event, therefore no paradox. However, there are various ways to arrive at the conclusion of no faster than light travel:

    1) Light travels at the same speed through a vacuum no matter how the observer is moving. This was a well tested experimental result before Einstein explained it theoretically. The light coming out of a car's headlights at 60mph is not going at the speed of light + 60mph, it's going at the same speed as that from a stationary car. This can be explained by modifying Galileo's relativity slightly, so rather than simply adding the velocities there is a slight change applied called a Lorentz transform. This explains how all observers can measure the same speed, and it's physical interpretation is that space contracts and time extends. This effect becomes more and more important as speed increases, until a certain speed at which time is infinitely extended (ie. 'time stops'). This is the 'speed limit' of the Universe, since 'going faster' makes no sense (how can time be stretched longer than infinity?). It also just-so-happens to be the speed at which light travels, so the problem isn't 'beating light', it's that space and time dictate no such thing as faster than this speed, thus even light is stuck, like us, to never go faster.

    2) Discounting air-resistance, it's easier to move things with less mass than those with more mass. Thus light, which has no (rest) mass, is easier to move than anything with mass. Thus light can go faster than any space ship.

    3) The amount of energy bound together into matter is given by E=m*c^2, where m is the rest mass. Thus the total energy for an object is totalE=(m*c^2)+(kinetic energy)+(potential energy). If we want to make an object go faster then its kinetic energy must increase. To do this we can either give it more energy (increasing totalE) or turn some of the other energy into kinetic energy. We can usually turn potential energy into kinetic energy easily (eg. falling via gravity, burning fuel in an engine, etc.), so we can use all of that up and have totalE=(m*c^2)+(kinetic energy)+0. The only other energy we can change to kinetic is the rest mass, which we can do via nuclear reactions or, if we want to convert it all, via matter-antimatter annihilation. If we do the latter then all of the energy is kinetic and we're going as fast as we possibly can. However, the output of matter-antimatter annihilation is light, so we've just proved that we can't go faster than light again! There's no use adding more energy to the light from outside, since that won't change its speed, only the frequency. Adding energy without doing any annihilating will either require adding light, or else adding some massive particles which will actually slow us down by increasing the rest mass.

    4) From a fundamental perspective, we can build up a theory of the Universe without needing space or time. We start by saying that there are 'events', and then we relate those to each other using partial orders by saying things like 'event A occurs before event B', which seems to imply time. However, what we find is that it's perfectly acceptable to say 'event A occurs before event B, event B occurs before event C and event C occurs before event A' (in the same way that rock > scissors, scissors > paper but paper > rock). We can account for such things by noticing that from each eve

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