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3 Habitable-Zone Super-Earths Found Orbiting Nearby Star 203

Posted by Soulskill
from the see-how-the-orbit,-see-how-they-orbit dept.
astroengine writes "Gliese 667C is a well-studied star lying only 22 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Scorpius, but it appears to have been hiding a pretty significant secret. The star has at least six exoplanets in orbit, three of which orbit within the star's "habitable zone" — the region surrounding a star that's not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to exist on their surfaces. Astronomers already knew that Gliese 667C had three worlds in orbit, one in the star's habitable zone, but the finding of three more exoplanets, two of which are also in the habitable zone is a huge discovery. Finding one small planet in a star's habitable zone is exciting, but finding three is historic. 'The number of potentially habitable planets in our galaxy is much greater if we can expect to find several of them around each low-mass star — instead of looking at ten stars to look for a single potentially habitable planet, we now know we can look at just one star and find several of them,' said Rory Barnes, of the University of Washington, co-author of the study, in an ESO press release Tuesday (June 25)."
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3 Habitable-Zone Super-Earths Found Orbiting Nearby Star

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  • I'd like to get more information about these worlds before I die. Also, I'd like to know if I would really get my own planet if I went "Full Mormon" so I can prepare accordingly.

    • by thue (121682) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @03:12PM (#44103871) Homepage

      Only 22 light years away! If you go at the same speed as voyager 1, then it will only take 382122 years to get there!

      • by crutchy (1949900)

        isn't there a borg transwarp conduit near earth somewhere we can hijack?

        better yet... if i'm assimilated i might get to hang out with the borg queen... rawr :)

      • if you accelerate constantly a 1g for 11 light years and then decelerate at 1g fo 11 light years it takes 9 years to get there in your rest frame. in earth frame time this is much longer so you cant just come back in 18 earth years, but you can come back in 18 of your own.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by FatdogHaiku (978357)

      I'd like to get more information about these worlds before I die. Also, I'd like to know if I would really get my own planet if I went "Full Mormon" so I can prepare accordingly.

      I too have questions. I need to know if high speed internet is available (tcp over warp?)...
      although with a bunch of wives I could just stage my own girl on girl action...

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by rvw (755107)

        I'd like to get more information about these worlds before I die. Also, I'd like to know if I would really get my own planet if I went "Full Mormon" so I can prepare accordingly.

        I too have questions. I need to know if high speed internet is available (tcp over warp?)...
        although with a bunch of wives I could just stage my own granny on granny action...

        FTFY!

    • by hairyfeet (841228)
      I don't know about that, last time we sent a signal that way it ended up with a transformers ripoff [imdb.com] and we certainly don't want that to happen again.
    • by slick7 (1703596)

      I'd like to get more information about these worlds before I die. Also, I'd like to know if I would really get my own planet if I went "Full Mormon" so I can prepare accordingly.

      Are these "discoveries" a prelude to disclosure?

  • I'm still waiting for us to find the five-star system from Firefly. We could use dozens of plants and hundreds of moons to terraform.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @03:17PM (#44103961)

    I think I will be avoiding the peacekeepers thanks.

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @03:25PM (#44104045)

    There are many exoplanet claims with both the transit method and the Doppler method. What I'd like to see is use them in the same systems to see whether they yield the same results. Right now, these are only predictions, not discoveries, and they are hard to verify.

  • One problem that has not be determined is how do planets deal with the inherent variability with Red Dwarf stars. There are many, many more red dwarfs than other types of stars and their expected life expectancy is longer the estimated end of the universe. But their small nature makes their energy output more variable than a star like our sun.
    Does the long life, and greater number of Red Dwarfs significantly boost the drake equation? Does the variable energy output reduce the drake equation?

    Unfortunately, w

    • by Nyder (754090)

      Unfortunately, we will all probably be long dead before we find out.

      Don't be a smeg head

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        the inherent variability with Red Dwarf stars

        I was going to say: Lister, Rimmer, and Cat were the same stars throughout the series. Only Kochanski and Kryten really changed.

    • by tgd (2822)

      There are many, many more red dwarfs than other types of stars and their expected life expectancy is longer the estimated end of the universe.

      I'm not sure "end" means what you think it means.

    • One problem that has not be determined is how do planets deal with the inherent variability with Red Dwarf stars.

      What problem? The planets don't care one bit.

      Does the long life, and greater number of Red Dwarfs significantly boost the drake equation? Does the variable energy output reduce the drake equation?

      It's all rather academic, since plausible values for the DE cover such a wide range that you can reasonably make it come out with pretty much any answer you want. AIUI it was never really meant to put to practical use, and is more of a contemplative notion.

  • by Xaedalus (1192463) <Xaedalys@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @03:47PM (#44104265)
    There's plenty of data both pro and con about sending a probe to explore and the timeline necessary. Has anyone ever thought about seeing if perhaps another race has sent a probe at us? And if so, how would we spot it?
    • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @04:05PM (#44104543)

      perhaps another race has sent a probe at us? And if so, how would we spot it?

      Most likely the probe would contain simple life forms which would try to blend in with society by assuming places of privileged power. The kind of power to pass legislation or create policies to give them better leverage over the populace as a whole.

      It would not be difficult to spot, however it would be difficult to extricate them once they become resident as they would almost certainly ascertain some control over local and national media in order to sway public opinion in places where rhetoric and ignorance can easily give them political footholds in which to extend their residence.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      A probe would probably be meant for observation, not communication since it's so much easier to just boost the signal if there's someone answering at the other end. I think we'd already know if there was a probe in orbit, if it's in transit or just doing a fly-by it'd be a silent black speck of dust we'd have no chance of detecting.

    • If it's here and it wants to be spotted it would have announced itself by now. If it doesn't want to be spotted we don't have any realistic hope of spotting it. Keep in mind, anyone out there with routine interstellar travel of any kind, even just with automated drones, is more than likely to be hundreds or at least tens of thousands of years ahead of us technologically.

      That said, it's always possible that the machinery only wakes up every so often. If it only sticks it head out to look around every 1000

  • by Xerxes314 (585536) <clebsch_gordan@yahoo.com> on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @04:29PM (#44104863)

    I'm not sure what difference this makes to the actual habitability of the planets, but all of these are tidally locked. That is, the same part of the planet is always facing the star (and thus baked) while the same part faces empty space (and thus freezes). A thick atmosphere might transport heat and make things more uniform, but none of these are what one would naively think of as "habitable". In fact, all planets in the "habitable" zone of such small stars are going to be tidally locked. Wikipedia actually has a nice summary of the problem of tidal locking in small stars [wikipedia.org].

    On the other hand, they might have very interesting moons.

  • I feel like this submission title has greatly lowered the bar for "habitable."

    • They are likely habitable in the same way both Mars and Venus are habitable.

      We most likely would need to provide our own self-enclosed biosphere, but that is not completely unreasonable.

      The key thing is temperature. Mercury is 400'C during the day. Uranus is -150'C during the day. In either case the travelers will need to continuously heat or cool their biosphere using a lot of energy. Trying to keep the biosphere warm during interstellar travel will be an issue since interstellar space is around -260C ac

      • by ildon (413912)

        They are likely habitable in the same way both Mars and Venus are habitable.

        I know, I was being snarky.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @04:59PM (#44105265) Homepage

    We're finding enough potentially habitable exoplanets that it's worth sending messages to them. Some might have a civilization. It's time for SETI to start transmitting.

    This is quite possible. Arecebo could communicate with a similar installation across the galaxy.

  • Given that the only solar system we have even partially explored has at least one potentially habitable planet, why is the constant assumption made that te vast majority of other systems are entirely uninhabitable? Are we really THAT arrogant to think our system is so unique? Based on the evidence in our sample size of one, surely the logical assumption would be that there are plenty of other similar systems?

Mr. Cole's Axiom: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.

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