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Space Science

Richest Planetary System Discovered With 7 Planets 245

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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  • Richest? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Skyshadow ( 508 ) * on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:59PM (#33361416) Homepage

    At seven planets, I'm reasonably sure this qualifies as the *second* richest planetary system we're aware of.

    • Yea, I was about to say... if they think that's remarkable, boy have I got something to show them.
    • Re:Richest? (Score:5, Funny)

      by by (1706743) ( 1706744 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:03PM (#33361494)
      Yeah, we've got a full two more planets than...oh wait...

      [tears up]
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      At seven planets, I'm reasonably sure this qualifies as the *second* richest planetary system we're aware of.

      No no no, you're thinking the wrong way. They've found Magrathea!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      One of the planets detected has 1.4 times the mass of the Earth, making it the smallest exoplanet detected yet. Wanna bet on this system having at least one more less massive and currently undetectable planet?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DJRumpy ( 1345787 )

        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

  • 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 pspahn ( 1175617 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:08PM (#33361582)

      Did you extrapolate Moore's Law in that calculation, Captain Obvious?

      • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:12PM (#33361658)
        I will when Moore's Law applies to propulsion.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by rawler ( 1005089 )

          "The amount of electron-spitting components doubles in density every 18 months."

          There you go. I call it Ulriks law. Spread the word.

        • by pspahn ( 1175617 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @06:00PM (#33362420)

          So you're basing a 4 million year trip on current propulsion technology? Seems pretty archaic to me. I certainly hope that in 4 million years enough new ideas would come out that our ideas of propulsion would be long obsolete.

          When I travel to distant systems, I plan on using some super cool technology that I will call Magnetic Focusing Expansion of Relative Space (MFERS for short). The idea is that we just generate a magnetic attraction between two distant points and turn the thing on. It should also have the benefit of shielding the craft from any inconvenient chunks of matter between A and B. Also, this is science. Science that I base entirely on facts that are not factual (yet). Propulsion is for cavemen. Think of this more like Propullsion.

          • 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


            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.

            • I missed this one. They are also looking at real designs for Antimatter Drives:


              • Good luck manufacturing enough anti-matter to make a drive like that work. I firmly believe it will happen one day, but I doubt you or I will be alive.
                • You do realize that they are already creating antimatter today right?

                  They started creating almost two decades ago, although it's prohibitively expensive as all new technology is in it's infancy. It's only a matter of time before they can create it in bulk at a reasonable cost.

                  The technology to create antimatter, although new, is already advancing.


                  • I am aware that they are creating antihydrogen and antihelium today, but its prohibitively expensive. It would require massive funding to find an efficient way to manufacture and store, which simply wont happen in the US with the way the US government runs. I don't see our government changing either because all of us US citizens failed at maintaining a government for the people and instead let it be taken over by a bunch of self serving rich people who would rather exploit what they can on this planet. I do
          • There's a lot of pulling going on here pal but I'm not sure it's the kind you're talking about, know what I'm saying?

      • by tekrat ( 242117 )

        Don't forget the Borg modifications along the way that will speed up the trip.

    • by Xiph ( 723935 )

      As far as i remember, homo sapiens is about 200.000 years old.
      Even assumnig that the technology was no problem, I wonder if we would survive such a trip, both on earth and on the ship, and how different we'd be when we arrived.
      I think it would be fair to assume, that those in the ship evolved quite differently than those on the planet.

    • Oh yeah?

      What about wormholes? Duh.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ironhandx ( 1762146 )

      Its really too bad they partially debunked the guy that proved that the light speed limit was little more than a myth. I'm hoping for new evidence to back up a non-existance of a light speed barrier.

      Theoretically though, if you could somehow make an engine constantly add thrust and never plateau due to relativity(where max speed would be the maximum exit speed of the particles being used for propulsion) you could exceed light speed.

      I really think we need a lab somewhere in space. Something along the terms o

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bemopolis ( 698691 )

        Theoretically though, if you could somehow make an engine constantly add thrust and never plateau due to relativity(where max speed would be the maximum exit speed of the particles being used for propulsion) you could exceed light speed.

        Except that it's not the plateau of the exit thrust that stops it, it's the increase in inertia of the rocket as it approaches light speed, which approaches infinity as the rocket speed approaches the speed of light.

        To take an optimistic view, time dilation does slow th

    • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:33PM (#33362024) Homepage

      you might want to keep in mind that 127 light years is a very long way--an almost unimaginable distance, in fact

      I mean, you might think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts compared to space.

    • Pft, 4 million years isn't that long, is it?
    • Well, it's less that 40 parsecs, and if you can do the Kessel run in less than 12....
    •'d better pack for about a 4-million-year trip, one way.

      Damn... now I'm gonna run out of clean underwear for sure!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BobMcD ( 601576 )

      Perhaps, however, we can start planning the date when they might come see us...

      My money's on 2057, personally...

    • by gmuslera ( 3436 )
      It is almost unimaginable? So you can imagine it or think that it is harder to imagine than the distance to proxima centauri? I can't properly imagine the distance to the moon, more than as an abstract thing, like in around 400k times a kilometer, or a bit more than a light-second, or a millon of "are we there yet?" during the road trip. But if that qualify as imagining the distance, then worth the same as imagining the distance the border of the visible universe.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jonfr ( 888673 )

      In reality, 127 light years is not that far away. The most distance objects that we see are close to 13.4 billion light years away from Earth.

      We are seeing the system as it was 127 years ago. So it is a stable system, with planets in stable orbits. The question if there is life there or any planet in size range of the Earth are different questions, and require a different method to figure out.

      This discovery however shows that out solar system is not the only solar system out there with more plants then two

    • by n1ywb ( 555767 )

      It's a long way to travel with current technology. But communications could be possible. 127 years is a long time to wait for a reply. But it would be terribly significant just to detect signals, even without two-way conversations. At least it lends hope to projects like SETI. The more systems like this we find, the less likely it becomes that we are alone in the universe.

      On the other hand it's always seemed likely to me that life on other planets, if it exists, and even if the beings are sentient, is proba

    • I suspect most humans, at any given time, will be far too old for organized interstellar journeys, the way we might probably do it (imho) - those young enough will be composed of dozen or so cells, cryogenically frozen. Or even not really existing yet, travelling in the form of egg & sperm bank on a quite small, light & fast spaceship (which would still be an enormous strain to build & launch, but at least plausible; plausible enough also to do it every few decades, maximizing chances of success

  • NASA announces that they have big news on Kepler WRT planets, and now EU decides to quickly make an announcement. Ah, the ability to have the big announcements are always so important.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sznupi ( 719324 )

      How did EU suddenly get involved with European Southern Observatory?...

      (plus generally, healthy competition is nice & there's a lot of crossparticipation in many projects anyway)

  • by spike2131 ( 468840 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:09PM (#33361608) Homepage

    I know of a solar system that has 8 planets. Used to have 9.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by belthize ( 990217 )

      I think they're limiting it to real solar systems, Alderaan doesn't count.

    • I read of one planet in the seventh dimension got used as a ball in a game of intergalactic bar billiards. Got potted straight into a black hole, killed ten billion people. Only scored thirty points, too.

  • GTFO (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Smelly Jeffrey ( 583520 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:12PM (#33361662) Homepage

    "the solar system with the most planets yet"

    There is only one Sol. There can only be one System Sol. Anything else is a star system.

    • by BobMcD ( 601576 )

      "the solar system with the most planets yet"

      There is only one Sol. There can only be one System Sol. Anything else is a star system.

      Isn't that kind of like saying the only Lindsey is Lohan?

      • It's more like saying the only BobMcD is 601576.

        Any time Sun or Sol (or Solar) is used to reference anything other than the star that Earth orbits is kind of like a misuse of the name, like saying ALL Lindseys are Lohans.

        • by BobMcD ( 601576 )

          My point was more along these lines:

          All names are arbitrary.

          We named the sun 'sol' and could thusly name other things that as well. It isn't as if the thing was labeled by God himself before we got around to thinking about it.

    • A solar system is any system around any star, and whatever star you are orbiting is the Sun (at least if you speak English). There is one particular star called Sol, and its solar system is called the Sol system, just like you might say "the Vega system" or "the Polaris system".

  • Am I the only one who first read that as "The star is HD 1080".

  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:30PM (#33361986) Homepage Journal

    It would require a radio telescope with a 1 Km dish (or many with equal collecting area as well as comparable resolving power) to be able to detect an Earth-sized planet 1 AU from its sun at a distance of 100 LY from Earth at a resolution of a single pixel. (Information courtesy of the director of the SETI Institute during an on-site lecture at NASA.) This is 127 LY away and some of the planets are closer to their sun still. The current proposal for the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) telescope has it distributed across continents - boosting the resolving power - but the collecting area might still be too feeble to directly observe a whole lot.

    (The proposal would likely need to be upgraded to a Square Mile Array or larger before you could do much in the way of direct observation. The SKA project has been painfully slow to advance and, frankly, upgrading it to the size necessary to actually look at Earth-sized alien worlds at that kind of distance just isn't going to happen. It's unclear to me if SKA as it stands will ever really happen.)

  • 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.
  • We should send a probe now if possible. We may not live to see the results some 250 years later, but I'm sure that millions of people will thank us when they get their first close-up view of extrasolar planets.

    If faster than light travel is never achieved, we'll eventually have an archeo-space exploration science, where future scientists must track and watch for signals from (then ancient) probes as they reach waypoints and destinations.
    • by 32771 ( 906153 )

      On the other hand you could build a gigantic telescope now and be able to spend less or at most equally as much and be able to watch information that is only 125 years old and that without waiting ~10000 years or more for the probe to arrive.

      Anyway, I bet we aren't going to see a Probe mission for a long time. I would rather expect people to travel there and take what they get. This implies that we are actually able to support such a mission with relative ease or that we feel pressured into starting it.

  • Master of Orion 2 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DriedClexler ( 814907 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:39PM (#33362124)

    Does anyone else remember playing Master of Orion, and finding a planet, where the info-box says "Ultra rich, heavy-G".

    I always thought that sounded like a nickname for a gangsta rapper.

    • by rsborg ( 111459 )

      Does anyone else remember playing Master of Orion, and finding a planet, where the info-box says "Ultra rich, heavy-G".

      I sure as hell hope our first colonization effort isn't an introduction to the jaws of a Space Dragon.

    • I really liked the Star Control series.
  • Get back to me when they find a planet with Orion slave girls [] on it...
    • If you're going to bump it up to nine, you may as well bump it up to twelve to include Eris, Makemake, and Haumea. Or thirteen, if you hold a favorable opinion of Ceres.
      • It's a planet if it is on the list of the nine planets. Pluto is. Eris isn't. Either that or we go back to the original five.

      • by Xtifr ( 1323 )

        What if I hold a favorable opinion of Ceres but not Pluto or other Kuiper belt objects? Then it's nine, just like the man said. :)

        (And yes, before you ask, yes I do consider that to be a more sensible categorization scheme than the one the IAU actually adopted,)

  • Did they find Arrakis (Gune) ?

    But seriously, the richest solar system would be one that contains a habitable planet. Gas Giants are 10 a penny...

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Did they find Arrakis (Gune) ?

      Did Richard Stallman re-write a Frank Herbert novel?

  • Without the ability to determine definitively whether they have 'cleared the neighbourhood of its orbit' can we really prove that we've discovered *any* extrasolar planets?

    And yes, I know that the IAU says that is the definition of a planet in our Solar system, but as even the most basic student of science philosophy knows science assumes that definitions are not variable across time and space. So really we just don't know.

    FU Tyson - {G}. If Pluto can't be a planet I'm not recognizing any of these others ti

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      FU Tyson - {G}. If Pluto can't be a planet I'm not recognizing any of these others till you have definitive quatification of the ephemerides for all of them.

      So what are we living on, an Earthoid?

      You know what, I'm renaming every planet to Hammer just to spite you.

  • There IS ONLY ONE Solar System in this reality. The others star systems do NOT have our Sun, Sol, as the star! Tim S.
  • It is these kinds of announcements that make me wish warp drive was real. Space is so interesting!

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