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Neptune-Size Planet Orbiting Common Star Hints at Many More
space.com ^ | 11/30/05 | Robert Roy Britt

Posted on 11/30/2005 7:21:39 PM PST by KevinDavis

Astronomers have discovered a planet about as massive as Neptune orbiting one of the most common types of stars in the universe.

The star is a red dwarf, a class of star about 50 times fainter than the Sun. Among the 100 stars closest to us, 80 are red dwarfs. But astronomers had so far found only two planets in searches of about 200 red dwarfs, while well more than a hundred planets have been found around other types of stars.

"Our finding possibly means that planets are rather frequent around the smallest stars," says Xavier Delfosse, from the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Grenoble in France and co-author of the paper relating the work. "It certainly tells us that red dwarfs are ideal targets for the search for exoplanets."

(Excerpt) Read more at space.com ...


TOPICS: Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: extrasolar; space; xplanets
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Only a matter of time that we find an Earth like planet...
1 posted on 11/30/2005 7:21:40 PM PST by KevinDavis
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To: RightWhale; Brett66; xrp; gdc314; sionnsar; anymouse; RadioAstronomer; NonZeroSum; jimkress; ...

2 posted on 11/30/2005 7:22:33 PM PST by KevinDavis (http://www.cafepress.com/spacefuture)
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To: KevinDavis

John Kerry's home?


3 posted on 11/30/2005 7:25:43 PM PST by RockinRight (Its likely for a Conservative to be a Republican, but not always the other way around)
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To: KevinDavis
Only a matter of time that we find an Earth like planet...

This WAS an Earth-like planet, until global warming got out of control.
Then things got hot and the planet expanded.
A lesson for all of us...

Yes, it's sarcasm.

4 posted on 11/30/2005 7:27:46 PM PST by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: KevinDavis
Only a matter of time that we find an Earth like planet...

Why?

5 posted on 11/30/2005 7:29:38 PM PST by frogjerk (LIBERALISM - Being miserable for no good reason)
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To: KevinDavis
Only a matter of time that we find an Earth like planet...

Why?

Please explain rationally why this suggestion by scientists must be true and I will try to believe it.

6 posted on 11/30/2005 7:32:27 PM PST by frogjerk (LIBERALISM - Being miserable for no good reason)
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To: frogjerk
For your sought-for explanation see the theorems on Markov's processes [probabilistic chains] - if you play lottery long enough you are bound to win. So it is indeed the matter of time. The length of the time required is a completely different matter.
7 posted on 11/30/2005 7:40:47 PM PST by GSlob
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To: KevinDavis
It orbits close to its host star, completing a full circle in only 5.4 days at an average distance of about 3.7 million miles (6 million kilometers).

Probably like Phoenix.

3.7 mil? That sure is close. You'd think the star would have all but vaporized this planet. That thing has to look and feel like a big ball bearing.

8 posted on 11/30/2005 7:43:47 PM PST by Jigsaw John
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To: frogjerk; KevinDavis
Only a matter of time that we find an Earth like planet... Why? Please explain rationally why this suggestion by scientists must be true and I will try to believe it.

I second that question. Earth has a unique place in the solar system, actually a unique place in the universe.

But actually, if you think about it, in the grand scheme of things, the conditions on Earth might not be that unique. The possibility exists. LOL!

9 posted on 11/30/2005 7:45:21 PM PST by phantomworker (We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are.<==> Perception is everything.)
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To: KevinDavis

Maybe there is the source for the white house leak!
Or Harry Reids intelligence source that Bin Laden was killed in the earthquake in Pakistan. Those things are just not earthly happenings. LOL


10 posted on 11/30/2005 7:45:45 PM PST by o_zarkman44
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To: frogjerk

Why? Okay, here is why.

First, lets remind everyone that Neptune is a much bigger planet than the earth. It has 17 times more mass than the earth. I know y'all already know this, but perhaps somebody has forgotten.

Second, the mass of Jupiter is 318 times the mass of the earth.

Third, the science and techniques in this area are advancing rapidly. Finding planets in other solar systems is a new field. These techniques were only perfected recently. Since then, the number of planets being found in other solar systems is going up rapidly as these techniques are applied. However, these techniques in their infancy. Currently they are still only capable of finding giant planets.

The first planets to be found were Jupiter sized. As the techniques have been improved, smaller and smaller planets have been found.

Eventually we will develop techniques that are sensitive enough to find earth sized planets. See the article below on one of the latest developments.

So it really is only a matter of time. The universe is full of earth sized planets.


http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/afoe/espd.html

http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/index.cfm

http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/TPF/detectionMilestone.cfm
"TPF engineers achieve planet-detection milestone

(PLANETQUEST) -- For the first time ever, engineers working on JPL's Planet Detection Testbed have demonstrated that they can separate light as faint as that from a distant Earth-like planet from the blinding glare of its parent star. This breakthrough represents a major step toward the ultimate goal of the Terrestrial Planet Finder missions: observing habitable planets around nearby stars.
"The challenge in detecting an Earth-like planet is that the planet is a million times fainter than the host star when viewed in infrared light," said Dan Coulter, project manager for the Terrestrial Planet Finder Interferometer (TPF-I). "By simulating these conditions on the testbed, we've shown that the flight instrument has the sensitivity needed to suppress the light from the central star, and to observe a planet in the habitable zone." The habitable zone is the region around the system's star where the temperature is right to sustain liquid water, considered an essential ingredient for life.

The Planet Detection Testbed works by suppressing the light from the star, while allowing the planet's light to pass through and reach the detector, said Stefan Martin, the testbed lead engineer.

TPF-I will work in concert with the Terrestrial Planet Coronagraph to provide comprehensive portraits of neighboring planetary systems. Both missions are envisioned to launch within the next 10-20 years. "


11 posted on 11/30/2005 7:48:45 PM PST by Pikachu_Dad
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To: GSlob
For your sought-for explanation see the theorems on Markov's processes [probabilistic chains] - if you play lottery long enough you are bound to win. So it is indeed the matter of time. The length of the time required is a completely different matter.

I kind of understand the argument about the whole numbers game but my question would be along the lines of "Is there nothing unique in the Universe?"

I think it comes down to a philosophical question as well.

There is no other me and even if I were to be cloned my clone would not come out the same because my clone would have to go through exactly every physical and emotional experience I had gone through in my lifetime which would be such a long shot as to not be possible. I am unique in the universe and so are you.

12 posted on 11/30/2005 7:51:30 PM PST by frogjerk (LIBERALISM - Being miserable for no good reason)
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To: Jigsaw John

If it has a period of 5.4 days, then the estimation of mass may have been via the displacement of the red dwarf. If it were further out, like say a billion miles, then the planet's influence on the star would have been a lot less, since gravity follows an inverse square function.

Also keep in mind that the red dwarf has a much lower heat output than the Sun, thus it would not be like an object that would be orbiting 3.7 million miles from the Sun. Still it might be questionable if this is a gas giant like Neptune. At that distance would much of the atmosphere cook off? Maybe someone in that field more qualified to run the numbers.


13 posted on 11/30/2005 7:53:51 PM PST by Fred Hayek (Liberalism is a mental disorder)
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To: Pikachu_Dad
The universe is full of earth sized planets.

I agree. What I don't agree with or haven't seen any evidence of (which may or may not come in the future as technology advances) is the existence of earth-like planets (with ability to support life as we know it). The question is always answered mathematically and that does not satisfy me, but I guess that is all we have at this time.

So "faith" in probability enters into this question on a scientific level.

14 posted on 11/30/2005 7:57:46 PM PST by frogjerk (LIBERALISM - Being miserable for no good reason)
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To: phantomworker
But actually, if you think about it, in the grand scheme of things, the conditions on Earth might not be that unique. The possibility exists. LOL!

I am trying to think about it an I'm not sure, nor have I been sufficiently persuaded, to believe the possibility exists. The odds for the conditions for earth to exist as it does now without being destroyed by a foreign body, burnt up by the sun, iced over, biologically destroyed, swallowed by a black hole, etc... is astronomical in and of itself. For two to exist with such a long shot maybe impossible with the amount of stars that are out there...Who knows?

15 posted on 11/30/2005 8:03:10 PM PST by frogjerk (LIBERALISM - Being miserable for no good reason)
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To: Pikachu_Dad
Maybeso Pikachu_Dad, but science in its infancy is infant science. A lot is presumed about a Universe that we don't know much about.

I'll bet you my bottom donut that the "planets" that revolve around red giants at a distance of three million miles are revolving around an observational error rather than on empirical reality.

Time will tell, wanna bet?
16 posted on 11/30/2005 8:07:30 PM PST by the final gentleman
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To: Jigsaw John
Probably like Phoenix.

3.7 mil? That sure is close. You'd think the star would have all but vaporized this planet. That thing has to look and feel like a big ball bearing.

We could verify this by listening for Spanish-language radio signals.

17 posted on 11/30/2005 8:09:01 PM PST by BlazingArizona
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To: frogjerk

"Might" be impossible, but the probability (that there exists another planet similar to Earth) does NOT equal zero.


18 posted on 11/30/2005 8:09:03 PM PST by phantomworker (We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are.<==> Perception is everything.)
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To: BlazingArizona

Funny you say that. I was tuning around the other day, and I couldn't get anything else. I finally just turned off the radio.


19 posted on 11/30/2005 8:12:22 PM PST by Jigsaw John
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To: Fred Hayek
At that distance would much of the atmosphere cook off?

I would speculate that this is a large mercury-like planet with no atmosphere. We still don't have enough precision in our measurements to account for earth-mass planets. There could be other planets in this system that could be in a habitable zone. It will be interesting to see what we find when we attain enough precision to find smaller planets around stars, I still think our stellar neighbors Alpha Centauri A&B will have some surprises.

20 posted on 11/30/2005 8:15:56 PM PST by Brett66 (Where government advances and it advances relentlessly freedom is imperiled -Janice Rogers Brown)
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