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Space Science

Two Earth-Sized Bodies With Oxygen-Rich Atmospheres 111

tugfoigel writes "Astrophysicists at the University of Warwick and Kiel University have discovered two bodies the size of earth with oxygen-rich atmospheres — however, there is a disappointing snag for anyone looking for a potential home for alien life, or even a future home for ourselves. These are not planets, but are actually two unusual white dwarf stars." The objects, 220 and 400 light-years distant, are believed to be remnants of stars between 7 and 10 solar masses. Such stars, the largest that evolve to white dwarves, have been sought for years. If the stars were a little more massive they would collapse to neutron stars, or so the theory goes. Here is the paper on the arXiv.
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Two Earth-Sized Bodies With Oxygen-Rich Atmospheres

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  • by palegray.net ( 1195047 ) <philip.paradis@p ... net minus author> on Saturday November 14, 2009 @08:42PM (#30102458) Homepage Journal
    I bet life forms from these environments would be really hot.
    • by turing_m ( 1030530 ) on Saturday November 14, 2009 @08:54PM (#30102538)

      And Captain Kirk would still find a way to pork it without spontaneously combusting.

    • by bcat24 ( 914105 )

      Oh yeah? Well, your mom is an Earth-sized body with an oxygen-rich atmosphere. If you know what I mean. ;)

      • s/your mom/urmom/

        Fixed that for ya ;). Urmom is kind of a cultish thing around my office.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well, they're talking about two Earth-sized bodies, so I guess the other one is ur dad. Take that!

  • Now that my future family dream to live on a white dwarf star has been crushed... my only hope is that black midget stars are better.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    In the image SDSS 1102+2054 looks blue. Shouldn't we call them blue dwarfs? Or should we call them smurfs?

  • by prakslash ( 681585 ) on Saturday November 14, 2009 @08:54PM (#30102550)
    This is a perfect example of how deceptive headlines get created.

    Original paper title: "Two white dwarfs with oxygen-rich atmospheres"
    The newspaper headline: "2 Earth-sized bodies with oxygen rich atmospheres found- but they're stars not planets"
    Slashdot headline: "Two Earth-Sized Bodies With Oxygen-Rich Atmospheres"

    The submitter could have simply stated "Two white dwarf stars with oxygen-rich atmospheres" but then who would have clicked further.
    • by prefec2 ( 875483 ) on Saturday November 14, 2009 @09:02PM (#30102610)

      Feel manipulated? Watch the news on TV or read a newspaper when you really want to be manipulated.

      • by ozbird ( 127571 ) on Saturday November 14, 2009 @09:52PM (#30102880)
        I prefer a chiropractor.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by h4rm0ny ( 722443 )

          I prefer a chiropractor.

          Try an osteopath - they've really studied their subject and are practically specialist doctors. Chiropractors are masseurs that like to take risks.

          • Osteopaths can be hard to find in some parts of the world... I'm seeing one right now for a shoulder that was dislocated, and he's very good... he's also the only one that's currently practicing in the city, possibly the province, and has a waitlist of several months in some cases.

            You don't tend to find Osteopaths in North America.

            • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 )

              Out of curiosity whereabouts are you, if you don't mind my asking? We actually have a, well, surplus is the wrong word but, we have a lot of upcoming osteopaths in the UK that are outpacing the number of practices in some regions. I'm just thinking that if there is a shortage over there, then it might be an opportunity for some. Though if people over there don't grasp the difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor, then that might hold things back...
              • I'm in Ottawa, Ontario... and yeah, feel free to send them over... Pierre, the guy I'm seeing, trained in England and France, but is originally Canadian.

                It's not that people don't understand the difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor... it's that most people haven't even heard of an osteopath. The fact that your private supplementary insurance will usually cover an osteopath in the same category that it covers physiotherapy and chiropractors is irrelevant... most people buying that kind of thing

      • Feel manipulated?

        Remember the first rule of journalism: "It's always better to manipulate than never."

      • That manipulation does not make this manipulation any better.

        Classic fallacy!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by trytoguess ( 875793 )

        I watch the news on occasion. Problem is, this headline is on par with the worst sensationalism mass media has to offer.

    • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Saturday November 14, 2009 @09:41PM (#30102832) Homepage

      In related news SETI Has Detected Intelligent Radio Signals From Space.

      They are currently working on better methods to filter out the earth TV broadcasts being reflected back from the moon.


    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AniVisual ( 1373773 )

      Pish, putting a spin on things is old news. If you own a NIV Bible, congrats, you already own a book where theologians twist the source material to censor embarrassing verses.

      Take Songs 5:4 for example:

      Young's Literal Version
      My beloved sent his hand from the net-work[probably something with threads], And my bowels were moved for him.
      New International Version
      My lover thrust his hand through the latch-opening; my heart began to pound for him.
      The Interpretation
      Read it yourself here [bible.cc].

      It's like taking "You

    • Exactly. I thought it was gonna be about fat chicks.
  • Cough, Cough... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Ever heard of the Smoke Ring??

    Cough, cough.


  • by AstroMatt ( 1594081 ) on Saturday November 14, 2009 @09:08PM (#30102650)
    "White dwarfs" is the proper plural form when talking about more than one white dwarf star.
    • Yet two dwarfs can sail from two wharves...or two wharfs, for that matter.

      English is Britain's revenge for the loss of their empire.

  • so can we gate to them?

  • It is man's destiny to save these stars from eternal, er, hellfire?

  • ...explains Kryptonian physiology.

    • I don't think a white dwarf can orbit a red giant. Rather the opposite, I would guess, if the configuration is at all possible.

      • by sconeu ( 64226 )

        The red giant would tend to be more massive, so the white dwarf would orbit it.

        • Strictly speaking, since they're both exerting gravity on each other, and neither is stationary, they're actually orbitting each other... But that's getting pedantic.

          But to the GP, it's worth pointing out that a White Dwarf has a theoretical upper limit on size of about 1.4 solar masses, whereas the Giant and Supergiant stars are typically between 10-80 solar masses, sometimes significantly bigger. The Pistol Star, for example, in Saggitarius, is estimated to possibly be as much as 150 solar masses. :)

        • To be as precise as possible, any two objects orbit each other on an axis called the barycenter, which may lie within the more massive object, but it's there nonetheless.

  • When we do find a planet fairly like Earth, will we then finally be able to stop having news stories that start off making noises about "Earth-like" but quickly devolve into "having one characteristic that can be compared to Earth, such as a particular element, but in all other respects are entirely unlike Earth"? This particular story was perfectly good without the bogus 'grabber'.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Yes, this is causing a huge strain on news stories and an overall problem to humankind.
      Please let us find new planets so the stories about false positives can stop.

  • At least you got air to breathe and it's not a neutron star......

    Never mind the bone pulverizing gravity and the extreme heat, 1 out of three earth like conditions is enough for anyone.....

    • At least you got air to breathe and it's not a neutron star......

      Even if we found another planet whose atmosphere contained oxygen, human beings require a pretty specific concentration of oxygen to breathe unassisted. Too highly concentrated and you get oxygen poisoning [wikipedia.org], not concentrated enough and you get lack-of-oxygen poisoning [wikipedia.org].

      • But at least, in an oxygen-containing atmosphere, it should be possible to create an inside atmosphere with just the right amount of oxygen with relatively simple technology. Especially if the oxygen level is too high, it should be trivial (assuming the air outside is not otherwise poisonous): Simply replace a smaller amount of inside air (with too little oxygen, because people consumed it) with outside air.

  • "oh please do you know how much an apartment that size on the sun would cost?"
  • Why does this preclude alien life?

  • Do not colonize the planet after a terrorist sets off a nuclear device nearby.

    • Do not colonize the planet after a terrorist sets off a nuclear device nearby.

      I'd guess it's more dangerous to colonize a planet before a terrorists sets off a nuclear device nearby. Because in that case, you're there when the nuclear device is set off.

  • Give it a chance, let the shit cool off and were good to go. Get to work on the space ships, and we might need a ton of water bottles.

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk