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Space Science

Search For Earth-Like Worlds Focuses On Sun's Siblings 64

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-in-the-family dept.
astroengine writes "The search for 'Earth-like' worlds just became even more Earth-like. Researchers from the University of Turku, Finland, have begun the search for the Sun's siblings in the hope that they may play host to exoplanets. Since these stars 'grew up' in close proximity to our Sun inside a stellar nursery some 4.5 billion years ago, they may have shared more than just star-building materials. Through the biology-spreading hypothesis 'panspermia,' they may have also shared the basic building blocks for life. Two sibling candidates have now been found and the researchers hope to survey the two stars — which contain similar metals and are of a similar age to our Sun — for bona fide Earth-like worlds. Could these worlds have life? If they do, extraterrestrial life may have more in common with us than we ever imagined."
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Search For Earth-Like Worlds Focuses On Sun's Siblings

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  • Panspermia (Score:3, Informative)

    by b0bby (201198) on Monday April 09, 2012 @03:46PM (#39622913) Homepage

    Panspermia, not pansermia.

  • by dryriver (1010635) on Monday April 09, 2012 @03:57PM (#39623057)
    Our TV broadcast signals reached them years ago... They saw Reality TV programs like "Keeping Up With The Kardashians", "Big Brother Austria" and "MTV Teenage Cribs". Horrified, they quickly hid their planets from view with giant cloaking devices, hoping that the Earthlings never find them... ever...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 09, 2012 @04:04PM (#39623189)

      If a superluminal (or similar) alien society were to first encounter our civilization by our TV transmissions, I anticipate they would be initially intrigued and approach. As they got closer (and thus more recent broadcasts), they would study the sitcoms to understand human behavior and revel at some of the educational content. A few light-years closer and the sitcoms are going downhill, Elmo appears on Sesame Street, and the aliens start growing concerned. A little closer and reality TV sets in, the aliens write off the planet as 'lost potential' and resume their search for the Higgs Boson.

      • by Grishnakh (216268) on Monday April 09, 2012 @04:07PM (#39623233)

        Exactly. The old shows like The Twilight Zone and Star Trek (TOS) will intrigue them and make them very interested in humans. When they get close enough to watch Jerry Springer, they're going to either decide our civilization has gone down the tubes, or that we need to be invaded.

        At this point, I think occupation by intelligent aliens is probably preferable to ruling ourselves.

        • by Teancum (67324)

          One person on television would serve to let aliens know we deserve to be wiped out:

          David Hasslehoff

        • Exactly. The old shows like The Twilight Zone and Star Trek (TOS) will intrigue them and make them very interested in humans. When they get close enough to watch Jerry Springer, they're going to either decide our civilization has gone down the tubes, or that we need to be invaded.

          At this point, I think occupation by intelligent aliens is probably preferable to ruling ourselves.

          Yes, because aliens have the same taste, opinion and morals as you the enlightened human. Xenopsychology is a difficult field with a sample of ... zero.

        • by Cobralisk (666114)
          Or they might just traverse the vastness of interstellar space to demand we resume production of Single Female Lawyer. Who knows what extraterrestrial tastes are?
        • by master_p (608214)

          If they view TOS, they will be too scared to come around fearing Kirk will sleep with all their women.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      They're going to send warships when they find out that there is no season 3 of "Pushing Daisies".

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Ep0nym0us (2463806)
        They actually went back home to get MORE warships when they found out what happened to Firefly.
        • They actually went back home to get MORE warships when they found out what happened to Firefly.

          We should be getting the first wave of warships any day now from any system 22 light years away, if they tuned into Galactica 1980.

          What the fuck, Earthlings? You had the perfect opportunity for Adama and his people to forge an alliance with your people, start manufacturing warships, and spearhead a liberating force to reclaim the 12 Colonies. And what do you do instead? You give us aliens vs earthlings baseball, flying motorcycles, and Wolf Man Jack. You people are soooooo fucked.

    • by Svartormr (692822)
      Wow! I never thought some good could come of Reality TV. There but for all that drivil we could be facing Alien Invasion! >:)
    • ...so they're just now hearing the Titanic send out its SOS, and we still have a couple of decades to invent FTL and divert them from that Nazi experimental TV broadcast which figured so prominently in Contact.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      What kind of spoiled your joke for me was the fact that those shows are less than ten years old, and the signals would have only reached a few stars, none of which are likely to be like our own daystar. Better would have been "one of these days, Alice... POW!"

      Or even better yet, War of the Worlds would be pretty far out by now, eighty or so light years out. Think that would freak the aliens out much?

    • by sfhock (1308629)
      MEH, we're already being viewed by billions on FOGNL
  • by icebike (68054) * on Monday April 09, 2012 @04:02PM (#39623157)

    Isn't this akin to looking for your lost keys under the street light because its brighter there?

    It would seem that finding life on planets around red dwarfs is just as likely, even if we have no direct experience with life on such planets.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Grishnakh (216268)

      No, the idea is that life like ours is probably more likely in star systems that resemble our own, on planets that resemble our own. We're less likely to find planets resembling our own around red dwarfs.

      • by icebike (68054) *

        We're less likely to find planets resembling our own around red dwarfs.

        Citation needed.

        There seems precious little evidence for this unless by "resembling our own" your ONLY criteria is orbiting a sun "resembling our own".

        • We can only make assumptions based on what we know. If we take all of the planets that we have ever found life on they are overwhelmingly like Earth (okay they are Earth). Point being you might as well start with what you know even if it is just one data point.
          • by icebike (68054) * on Monday April 09, 2012 @04:26PM (#39623491)

            And its easier to see under the street light.

            QED.

            • by steelfood (895457) on Monday April 09, 2012 @05:21PM (#39624213)

              Your analogy still fails.

              It's certainly easier to see under streetlights. But you're not looking for your set of keys that you lost under these streetlights. To look for keys you lost is making the presumption that the keys exist, and that you lost them under the streetlight. In your analogy, you're looking for something specific, a thing you can attach a proper noun to.

              What they're doing is more like looking for dicarded chewing gum. You think it exists. You're not looking for any specific piece of chewing gum (though you may be limiting your search by only looking for the red ones). You're looking under the streetlights because it's easier to find what you're looking for there.

            • A better analogy: We've found car keys on a road once, so when looking for more car keys, we choose to focus on roads, rather than elsewhere, like hillsides and ocean.

              Of course, the ideal place to look for lost car keys is in bars, but we don't know that - we've only found the one set.

        • by Teancum (67324)

          There is a general presumption that planets which would be orbiting closely to small stars like a M-class main sequence star would be likely to tidally locked as well, presuming they were about Earth-sized and in the "habitable zone" where water would be liquid on the surface. Planets of that nature might be possible, but the environment would be very different.

    • It might be more like the way a drunk uses the light post.
      More for support than illumination.

    • by symbolset (646467) *
      It's more like looking for pee in the pool right next to the kid with the sheepish look on his face. It seems likely we'll find life on one of planets of the closest stars on the plane of the ecliptic first, because that is the soonest we will arrive to have a close look.
    • The amount of radiation in the habitable zone around a red dwarf makes complex life as we know it unlikely. Not to say there couldn't be life, but the odds are better with friendlier conditions.
    • Isn't this akin to looking for your lost keys under the street light because its brighter there?

      If you've got no idea at all where your keys are then why not? Might as well look in all the easy places first.

  • by schlachter (862210) on Monday April 09, 2012 @04:10PM (#39623275)

    There are probably billions of worlds with life...and probably millions of worlds with intelligent life...yet the best we can probably ever do is find indirect evidence of their existence. Makes me kind of sad. Still we should continue trying.

    • by 0111 1110 (518466)

      With Active SETI we might be able to find more than indirect evidence. EM waves can travel a lot faster than any spaceship we could build. For systems only 100 ly away it would take at least 200 years for a reply and there is no guarantee that they are listening in the microwave or visible spectrum. They may be so advanced that radio or laser communication would be the equivalent of trying to communicate with smoke signals. Clearly it's still a long shot, but a lot less of one than with passive SETI, which

      • by ross.w (87751)
        Is this something we really want to do though? I suspect that advertising our presence, our location and the fact that there is a habitable planet here, to random civilisations that will thus know about us before we know about them? I think it's safer to stay hidden and keep listening.
        • There are more than likely trillions of habitable planets. It's not a scarce resource, so there's no motivation for an invader to waste incredible resources invading us when they can go set up shop on other planets that don't have any species capable of self-defense.
        • by 0111 1110 (518466)

          Fear. The noblest of motivations. We should let fear guide us in all of our endeavors. There is no greater guiding principle than fear and the desire to be safe. Look how much it has improved the US since 9/11.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Considering the fact that a civilization would have to be so advanced that we'd be chimps by comparison for them to figure out a way around the lightspeed barrier (not to mention other relativistic effects), it's doubtful we'll ever visit or be visited by extraterrestrials.

          I wonder what an extraterrestrial 100 light years away about as advanced as we were 100 years ago would think if he picked up radio signals from us? Would he even realize that they were communication?

          Here are a couple of science fiction s

          • by probability alone, it is almost a certainty that there exist a significant number of life forms that are more intelligent and more technologically advanced than we are....but even if they are of our intelligence...it is almost certain that some may be 10,000 or 100,000, or 1,000,000 years further along in terms of technological achievement.

      • by dissy (172727)

        For systems only 100 ly away it would take at least 200 years for a reply and there is no guarantee that they are listening in the microwave or visible spectrum. They may be so advanced that radio or laser communication would be the equivalent of trying to communicate with smoke signals.

        If they are that advanced, they should be able to still see "smoke signals" and recognize a pattern in the signal to realize it is not naturally occurring.

        In other words, they may no longer use broadcast EM for their own communications, but that has little to nothing to do with looking for signs of life not on your own planet.

        If they are looking at all, they will still see and recognize our signal. If they are attempting to be found, there is no reason not to broadcast at the lowest common denominator just

        • by 0111 1110 (518466)

          We were always dark to any size radio telescope that is easy for us to imagine. If the aliens have radio telescopes hundreds or even thousands of miles in diameter, dishes that are on a planetary scale, then all bets are off, but otherwise we have been pretty quiet even to Alpha Centauri. 99.9% of our transmissions stay within the earth's atmosphere. It's really only things like weather radar that might indicate our presence to a truly immense alien dish.

          I think it's pretty likely that we have always been m

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          We broadcast much less now

          Are you kidding me?? When I was a kid there were 3 TV stations in St Louis. There are over a dozen now, same with radio. Plus we now have, in addition, damned near everyone with a radio transmitter in their pocket communicating with cell towers. Then cell towers weren't there, nor were the radio transmitters in our pockets. Hell, when I was 14 and Star Trek came out, those cell phones (communicators) were as much fantasy as the self-opening doors and Uhura's bluetooth headset. Oh y

          • by dissy (172727)

            You apparently didn't think about that very much.

            Actually I did. I can explain my thought process.

            With the exception of TV broadcasts, none of the others you listed have enough power nor are transmitted omni-directionally to make it through our atmosphere.
            UHF can even bounce off the atmosphere. It all depends on the frequency there.

            Sure, we have more TV broadcast, but the largest percentage of even our TV signals comes over a wire. I didn't claim broadcast TV was dead yet or anything, but do you really expect it to survive another hundred years?
            I dunno

            • by mcgrew (92797) *

              Yes, some frequencies bounce off the atmosphere; the AM and ham radio bands, for example, which is why you can communicate with someone in Australia from Canada. But VHF (TV and FM) don't skip, and there are more TV and radio stations than ever, worldwide.

              Plus there's the whole annoying inverse square law.

              Yeah, but that's a different subject (you did see the forgnost alien story I wrote about how the aliens are looking for life in the goant planets' moons, right? It's mentioned there).

              Of course this falls i

              • by dissy (172727)

                Yeah, but that's a different subject (you did see the forgnost alien story I wrote about how the aliens are looking for life in the goant planets' moons, right? It's mentioned there).

                ooo, no I haven't seen or read it, but that sounds up my ally. Was that a posting? Or could you provide a link?

                Thanks!

  • I'm not certain that occupying roughly the same part of phase space as the Sun, and having similar chemistry, is enough to qualify these targets stars as being definitively born in the same place as our Sun.

    Don't get me wrong, this kind of targeting search isn't necessarily a bad idea - I'm just skeptical that anyone is so sure of the dynamic origin of our Sun.

  • Given the rate of technological advancement that could possibly occur in the relatively near future, I think some people have been pessimistic about our chances of intelligent life out there. That, and the fact that articles are popping up by the day about hopeful researchers finding new potential life hosting areas. If we can make it to 2700, I would be surprised if some type of contact has not been made.
    • There is the possibility of thr Great Filter - some type of unavoidable disaster that destroys civilisations before they can go interstellar. Perhaps there comes a point when technology is advanced enough that anyone with a decent education and access to commonly-available components will be able to build a doomsday machine.
      • by rrohbeck (944847)

        You don't need a disaster. All you need is running out of easily obtained energy after squandering your inheritance.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Even if they were only 1 light year away the distance is mind boggling.

    Communication and transportation would be essentially impossible with current technology. Sure it could be argued that an array of flashing lights or mirrors could be used to communicate, but at great time intervals might take hundreds of years to establish a conversation such as "hello".

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