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New Exoplanet Is Best Yet Candidate For Supporting Life 288

First time accepted submitter uigrad_2000 writes "With all the new exoplanets discovered recently with Kepler, it seemed a sure thing that the first exoplanet in the habitable zone of a star would be found soon. The irony is that Kepler was not involved. GJ 667Cc is at least 4.5 times as massive as Earth, and lies in the habitable region of its host star, reports Scientific American. It was discovered by comparing public data from the ESO to recent observations from Hawaii and Chile. As opposed to the stars Kepler is watching, this is only 22 light-years away, making it even more interesting."
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New Exoplanet Is Best Yet Candidate For Supporting Life

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  • 22 light years (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 03, 2012 @01:36AM (#38912077)

    "this is only 22 light years away, making it even more interesting."

    It's like a price on an estate: as remarkable as this is, it's only 55.3 million! Still unreachable :P

  • Re:22 light years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 03, 2012 @01:44AM (#38912119)

    Closer planets are much easier to observe than farther ones. We may not be able to go there in the foreseeable future, but being close means we can study it.

  • Re:22 light years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afabbro ( 33948 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @01:50AM (#38912141) Homepage

    Visiting this planet is perfectly feasible if the human race wants it.

    I wouldn't say "perfectly" feasible. Visiting the moon is perfectly feasible. Visiting Mars is probably perfectly feasible. But 22LY is a >44Y round trip. I think instead of "perfectly feasible" I would say "probably possible".

  • by tiffany352 ( 2485630 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @01:56AM (#38912157)

    We have a 75 light year radius sphere of expanding radio signals. If anyone is out there listening, we are the kid knocking over bookshelves in the library of the universe.

  • Re:22 light years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Swampash ( 1131503 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @01:57AM (#38912165)

    A 44 year round trip if you travel at the speed of light from start to finish.

    That's a pretty big if.

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @02:15AM (#38912245) Journal

    (No, I don't think we'll ever reach it; 22 light years)

    We already HAVE reached it... in a sense. We've been broadcasting radio and television signals for all of recorded history (electronically recorded history, that is). Maybe they are mourning the death of The Skipper from Gilligan's Island (Alan Hale Jr.) who passed away 22 years ago. Maybe they're stunned by the loss of the shuttle Challenger, or dismayed by Chernobyl, or the Exxon Valdez. Maybe they're rocking out to Madonna and Michael "Mr Glove" Jackson. Perhaps they have had a Star Wars marathon, and are hoping beyond hope that George Lucas will make those long anticipated prequel movies. Too bad there's no way we can warn them.

  • Re:22 light years (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Endovior ( 2450520 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @02:16AM (#38912259)
    That's what the greater than sign was for. >44 years, because it cannot possibly be less, given our current understanding of the laws of physics. Naturally, just because there's no way for it to be less in no way means that it can't be more. In fact, it almost certainly will be.
  • Re:not really (Score:4, Insightful)

    by niftydude ( 1745144 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @02:24AM (#38912297)
    Life doesn't have to be mobile or sentient.

    Your argument doesn't exclude plants, trees, fungus, etc.
  • by hantms ( 2527172 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @02:26AM (#38912303)

    At 22 lightyears, you don't NEED to go faster than light to reach it. Just somewhere close-ish to light-speed will do. So turning physicis on its head is not a requirement. What you do need is a really big jump in technology. ;) But that's still a lot more feesible than changing reality as Einstein penned it up.

    Before setting off however you would want to make real sure that it's worth it, and the place actually inhabitable. The 4.5 x gravity will likely be the least of your concerns. And it'll take some dedication; you will be spending your life (and your kid's life) in space.

    Then you land, you find something that looks half-way intelligent, say 'Take me to your leader" and hope it doesn't eat you on the spot.

    So all things considered, I can see why aliens don't bother coming here.

  • by MrZilla ( 682337 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @03:24AM (#38912493) Homepage

    May take up to 22 years?

    It will guaranteed never take less than 22 years. Never mind that even getting close to c is a wild dream at this time.

    But if you did manage to get close to the speed of light, the trip would take ~22 years from an earth point of view, but for the people on the ship/whatever, the trip will be quite short. If you actually hit c (never mind that it is physically impossible), the trip would be instantaneous from the point of view of the travelers.

    A more realistic scenario, if we pour a lot of money into propulsion research, might be to fly away at 10% c. That would lead to a trip take takes 220 years in earth-time, or 198 years in ship-time. Not exactly an easy trip to plan.

  • Re:22 light years (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Arrepiadd ( 688829 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @05:29AM (#38912903)

    Gee, what could go wrong with that?

    First, the fact that the asteroids would be going at a much slower speed than your ship going at the speed of light. Instead of the asteroids clearing your path, you would eventually hit the asteroids.

    Then, let's forget this tiny detail of E=mc^2 and how that influences the mass of a speeding object. Sure it's a negligible factor at our typical speeds but apply the Lorentz Factor [] to a ship speeding close to the speed of light (let's say 90%) and the mass increases substantially (to 2.3 times the rest mass). Increase speed even more and mass keeps going up (to roughly 7 times, at 0.99c). Then, when you think a bit more about it, more than the 10 seconds it took you to read that forum you showed while completely missing the post of the guy that says basically what I just said, you start seeing what the problem is with keeping a constant 1G acceleration. It takes a lot of mass (read "fuel"), just to keep speeding up. Then, if you think a little bit harder, you may start understanding why they call the speed of light a "limit".

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