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Space Science

Kepler May Uncover Numerous Ring Worlds 75

Posted by timothy
from the from-which-monkeys-might-hypothetically-fly dept.
astroengine writes "According to a new publication, NASA's Kepler exoplanet-hunting space telescope may soon start discovering Saturn-like ringed alien worlds. So far, none have been positively identified, as Kepler has only detected exoplanets orbiting close to their parent stars; if these exoplanets have rings, they are most likely to have rings facing edge-on to their orbits, making them nearly impossible to detect. As more distant-orbiting exoplanets are detected, there's more likelihood ringed worlds will be tilted, allowing Kepler to see them."
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Kepler May Uncover Numerous Ring Worlds

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  • I am disappoint (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sqrt(2) (786011) on Sunday May 08, 2011 @06:36PM (#36066708) Journal

    I was hoping it meant Niven-like ringworlds, not saturn-like. Still cool though.

    • Me too. Another misleading title...

    • by RMingin (985478)
      Normally I'd mock you, but I, too, misread the title as "finding more ringworlds" and wondered when we had found the first.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yup, would it have been so tough to say "Ringed worlds"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I want to poke the author of that title in the eye.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 08, 2011 @07:38PM (#36067114)

      Yeah, because it would be awesome to live in a universe in which your ancestors are a collection of ultra-smart, viscious child tending machines that can transmute matter, build ring worlds, travel 30,000 lys and want to destroy you and your planet because you smell wrong.

      • It would be pretty awesome, yes. The Brennan monster beats them off and we only lose one colony world because of Truesdale and as I recall the inhabitants of the Ringworld are about as Pak-like as humanity. Known Space ends up being pretty big and - Kzinti aside - pretty safe for humans.
        • by Daetrin (576516)

          Known Space ends up being pretty big and - Kzinti aside - pretty safe for humans.

          Well, except for that whole massive explosion at the core of the galaxy thing, but we've got a couple tens of thousands of years to figure that out, right? :)

          • by BlueStrat (756137)

            Known Space ends up being pretty big and - Kzinti aside - pretty safe for humans.

            Well, except for that whole massive explosion at the core of the galaxy thing, but we've got a couple tens of thousands of years to figure that out, right? :)

            Well, if the core explosion has an intelligence behind it's cause, then your sig posits one possible intent:

            "This Space Intentionally Left Blank"

            Who knows? Might be the initial site-prep for a hyperspace bypass. You could always check at the office on Alpha Centauri. (Helpful Hint: Bring leopard-repelling rock.)

            Strat

        • by lysdexia (897)
          Plus, there ain't nothin' like chillin' in your Bandersnatch-skeleton trophy room.
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        Yeah, because it would be awesome to live in a universe in which your ancestors are a collection of ultra-smart, viscious child tending machines

        Tiger Moms. FTW!

    • by mattcoz (856085)
      Yeah, a huge difference between "ring worlds" and "ringED worlds".
      • Yeah, a huge difference between "ring worlds" and "ringED worlds".

        Worlds with erectile dysfunction tend to die out rather quickly, so I don't think we'll find too many of them...

    • by EdZ (755139)
      The question is, what would be the occultation signature of a ringworld (or a ringworld's Shadow Square) that we should be looking for with Kepler?
      • by sqrt(2) (786011)

        Any society with the capacity to engineer and build such a construction wouldn't need one.

        • by Rogerborg (306625)

          Any society with the capacity to engineer and build such a construction wouldn't need one.

          We didn't need to go to the moon. If we do meet biological intelligences out there in the vasty deeps, it'll be quixotic ones.

          • by lysdexia (897)
            People always forget Don Quixote's child who took over that mill. She became the head of a large oat-grinding fortune and was one of the unsung heroines of protestantism, an early Quaker in fact. Her name?


            Dawn Quickoats.
          • by sqrt(2) (786011)

            You misunderstand. Any species intelligent enough to build a Niven ring or similar megastructure wouldn't need to because it would be a trivial parlor trick. Their knowledge of physics would approach what we could only describe as magic. The God-like beings required to make such a massive thing would have no desire to do it, they would have long since evolved beyond the need or want of them.

      • by RockDoctor (15477)
        That's an interesting thought experiment. I have to spend some time on the bus soon - an excellent thing to think about.
        • by sqrt(2) (786011)

          It connects back to the idea that on a timeline of evolution from single cell to space faring race (and beyond) the window where life takes the form of something resembling humanity in capabilities and appearance is very small. Life on earth spent hundreds of millions of years in primitive form, then humans evolved sentience, and eventually we will evolve into something else; god-like beings. Or more likely we'll die out or destroy ourselves. So if we ever find life on another planet it will almost certainl

        • by RockDoctor (15477)
          The angular momentum of a Niven Ring is going to be LOTS, so to apply sufficient torque to get it to precess is also going to require LOTS of torque. Which means lots of mass - for a gravitational torque.

          So, unless the inhabitants are deliberately precessing it - to signal? - using the attitude jet system, it's going to be very stable. So if we're seeing the star today, we'll be seeing it tomorrow and on into the future, unless the normal processes of galactic circulation takes us into the part of space oc

    • by lysdexia (897)
      Yeah, don't tease a Niven fan before coffee. Impolite.
  • by Ultra64 (318705) on Sunday May 08, 2011 @06:38PM (#36066726)

    This reminds me that I need to re-read Ringworld

    • Also try Protector, A Gift From Earth, World of Ptavvs and A World Out Of Time.
      • by blackpig (1112913)
        The 'Man-Kzin Wars' anthologies are all pretty good also. Even though not written by Niven, they capture the feel of Known Space very well.
  • by retroworks (652802) on Sunday May 08, 2011 @06:49PM (#36066814) Homepage Journal
    Kepler should keep its eye out for the planets that remove their rings and place them in their pockets. They show attraction, but part without saying goodbye the next morning.
    • by physburn (1095481)

      Kepler should keep its eye out for the planets that remove their rings and place them in their pockets. They show attraction, but part without saying goodbye the next morning.

      But that would mean... converting the telescope to a cheaterscope, also known as a don't tell-(the partner)-oscope.

      ---

      Extra Solar Planets [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

    • by steelfood (895457)

      We'll be safe as long as Kepler doesn't start calling them its preciouses.

  • ...if Kepler discovered Ringworlds. [wikipedia.org]

  • by jimmyhat3939 (931746) on Sunday May 08, 2011 @07:01PM (#36066890) Homepage

    I'm not sure why one would view this as surprising -- given our own Solar System it seems like a highly likely outcome.

    That being said, it's great the the resolution has reached the levels where features like this can be distinguished for such faint objects.

  • by Courageous (228506) on Sunday May 08, 2011 @07:02PM (#36066898)

    Mod -1, no geek potential

    Cue sound of Larry Niven crying

  • I wonder if a rocky planet like Earth with the right conditions for life or with life, could ever have significant rings. What a sight that would be living on that planet.
    • A series of mining accidents on the moon, couple with a few thousands years of orbital decay might accomplish that goal.

  • by Maritz (1829006) on Sunday May 08, 2011 @10:13PM (#36068026)
    Ring systems like Saturn's are likely to last. I seem to recall reading some opinion that they might only persist for a few hundred million years as opposed to billions of years, meaning we might be quite lucky to see them. If Kepler is indeed able to detect enough of them to build up a statistical picture then we might get a better idea of how long-lived such systems tend to be in general. Some of Saturn's rings are quite obviously kept more stable by so called 'shepherd' moons that also maintain the little gaps or grooves between rings...
    • Most (all?) exoplanets discovered so far are close to their stars. Saturns rings are ice. They'd evaporate in no time so if we do find any rings they'd have to be made of rock which is probably rather unlikely. Its one thing breaking up passing ice comets, its another to break up a rocky world via gravity and that close in most other planets would have been swallowed by the star, flung out or eaten by the gas giant.

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday May 09, 2011 @08:02AM (#36070440) Journal

    As far as I understand the article, it's that
    1) ring planets are likely to be further from their main sun, due to solar pressure driving away small particulates
    2) we're seeing planets further from their sun, so it's more likely we'll see ringed planets.

    Just seems that this isn't much of a piece of news - it's not really discussing a new technology or technique, it's just saying that our ability to see more means we'll be more statistically likely to see something rare.

  • As of the current moment, almost every single up-modded comment is making reference to a certain sci-author and his work.

    If you have nothing relevant to say why say anything at all?

    (Yes, yes, hoist with my own petard)

  • the predators probably already know what planets the aliens are on. we shouldn't get involved.

  • Okay, I am late to this story, so doubt I will get a good reply, but here goes anyway

    Do we have any idea of the distribution of solar system plane angles relative to our own? We can only see planets using the transit method if they are close to the same plane as our own. The further away a plan from its star, the closer this relative angle must be. We could assume that the planes of rotation are equally distributed to make guesses about what we can't see. But is this a fair assumption? Do we have any clues

  • Not likely. There can't be that many 3-legged mule like species in the Universe. (If you understand the post, then understand that I know that I'm wrong, a bit of artistic license taken here.)

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