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Found: one Earth-like planet - Astronomers use gravity lensing to spot homely planets.
news@nature.com ^ | 25 January 2006 | Mark Peplow

Posted on 01/25/2006 8:35:11 PM PST by neverdem

news@nature.com - the best science journalism on the web Close window



Published online: 25 January 2006; | doi:10.1038/news060123-5

Found: one Earth-like planet

Astronomers use gravity lensing to spot homely planets.

Mark Peplow




How to spot a planet: watch for wiggles in the light coming from a far distant star as it curves around another sun.© ESO

Astronomers say they have found the most Earth-like planet yet outside our Solar System. At just 5.5 times the mass of Earth it is one of the smallest extrasolar planets ever found, and orbits its star at a distance comparable to that of habitable worlds.

Similarly sized extrasolar planets have been found before. But the method used to detect them meant we could see smallish planets only when they were very close to their suns, and such bodies are battered by scorching radiation.

Planet OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb looks much more like home. It lies about 390 million kilometres from its star: if it were inside our Solar System, the planet would sit between Mars and Jupiter.

It takes ten years for the planet to orbit its parent star, a common-or-garden red dwarf that lies about 28,000 light years from Earth, close to the centre of our Galaxy.

 The search for a second Earth is the driving force behind our research.  

Daniel Kubas
at the European Southern Observatory in Santiago de Chile, Chile.
But sadly this Earth-like body probably isn't crawling with life. Its dwarf star is so dim that the surface temperature of this planet is thought to be about - 220 °C.

"The search for a second Earth is the driving force behind our research," says Daniel Kubas at the European Southern Observatory in Santiago de Chile, Chile, part of the team that made the discovery. They are optimistic that the clever method they used to spot the planet could soon uncover an alien twin to our own world.

Wobbly stars



More than 170 planets have been discovered outside our Solar System. Astronomers usually detect them by watching how they make their parent star wiggle, a technique known as the Doppler method. This is ideal if you are looking for massive planets orbiting very close to their star, which induce a lot of wobble.

But there is no way this can be used to find small, blue-green planets approximately 150 million kilometres from a yellow sun. It is simply not sensitive enough, says Didier Queloz, an astronomer from Geneva Observatory in Switzerland who was part of the team that found the first extrasolar planet, just 11 years ago1.

The new sighting relies on an effect called gravitational lensing, where a massive object such as a star warps space so that it behaves like a lens. This means that it bends and slightly magnifies light from a more distant star before it reaches our telescopes. Adding a planet to the mix modifies the lensing effect by a tiny amount, just enough to work out its mass and orbit.

"Microlensing is the fastest way to find small, cool planets, down to the mass of the Earth," says Keith Horne, one of the planet's discoverers and an astronomer from the University of St Andrews, UK.

Spot the difference

The planet was found by a consortium of 73 astronomers from 12 different countries. Its star was first spotted by scientists working on the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE), before the planet itself was noticed by astronomer Pascal Fouqué.

OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb is only the third planet found using the microlensing technique so far, but astronomers expect to spot many more. "The other two microlensing planets have masses of a few times that of Jupiter, but the discovery of a five-Earth-mass planet is a strong hint that these objects are very common," says Jean-Philippe Beaulieu of the Astrophysics Institute of Paris. Beaulieu is lead author of the paper describing the find in this week's Nature2.

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References

  1. Mayor M.&

    Queloz D. . Nature, 378. 355 - 359 (1995). | Article | ISI | ChemPort |

  2. Beaulieu J.P., et al. Nature, 439. 437 - 440 (2006). | Article |

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Story from news@nature.com:
http://news.nature.com//news/2006/060123/060123-5.html

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TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: astronomy; earth; science; xplanets
Gravitational microlensing can find small alien worlds in places other techniques cannot reach.

Blue dots indicate the masses of the extrasolar planets found so far using the Doppler technique, plotted against the separation from their star. High-mass planets on short orbits cause the greatest deflection in their star, and are therefore easier to identify. But there is a detection threshold for Doppler surveys (blue line) below which no planet can be found. The grey rectangle indicates the region (including uncertainties) of the new planet found by gravitational microlensing, which is well below the Doppler sensitivity threshold. Jupiter and Neptune are shown for comparison. © ESA
1 posted on 01/25/2006 8:35:15 PM PST by neverdem
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To: King Prout; KevinDavis

ping


2 posted on 01/25/2006 8:37:50 PM PST by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem
They don't come any uglier than...

...BIZARRO EARTH

3 posted on 01/25/2006 8:41:48 PM PST by martin_fierro (Or a niftier Mr.)
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To: neverdem

Well when we need to establish colonies we can keep this one in mind. Hopefully it's solid and not gaseous. ;)


4 posted on 01/25/2006 8:43:33 PM PST by Bogey78O (<thinking of new tagline>)
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To: neverdem

The last homely house, east of the Misty Mountains and west of the sea.


5 posted on 01/25/2006 8:45:11 PM PST by Mamzelle
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To: neverdem

How does this discovery relate to the Drake Equation?


6 posted on 01/25/2006 8:46:12 PM PST by timer
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To: neverdem
Before our sun gets big and red we have to evacuate this planet. We have to start now.

The school buses are ready and we have the keys. Let's get them rolling!


7 posted on 01/25/2006 8:46:25 PM PST by I see my hands (Until this civil war heats up.. have a nice day.)
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To: neverdem

Fascinating! Now, next question: "can I get there from here and will I be able to afford the gas?" Also, what is 220 degrees C compared to Farenheit? We're at -60 at our house right now, and once it gets this $%$@# cold, nothing seems unsurvivable. LOL


8 posted on 01/25/2006 8:47:11 PM PST by Chena (I'm not young enough to know everything.)
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To: martin_fierro
And where there is a Bizzaro world there is a Bizzaro Supergirl!!!!
9 posted on 01/25/2006 8:48:16 PM PST by Ma3lst0rm
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To: neverdem

28,000 light years is kind of far away; can't they find something closer-like, say, 20 or 30 light years?;)))


10 posted on 01/25/2006 8:51:38 PM PST by Frank_2001
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To: neverdem

OK, where's the obligatory Helen Thomas pic. We have rules around here ya know...


11 posted on 01/25/2006 8:53:55 PM PST by AndrewB
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To: Ma3lst0rm

I like how her face is all j a c k e d u p, but her hooters are just fine.


12 posted on 01/25/2006 8:55:09 PM PST by martin_fierro (Or a niftier Mr.)
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To: martin_fierro

Yeah I suppose if she was naked they'd be all cube-like too but mmmm...I think I'll stop there. lol


13 posted on 01/25/2006 9:00:06 PM PST by Ma3lst0rm (Being unconventional will either make you famous, get you put in prison, or get you killed.)
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To: neverdem

I was right...the Democrats ARE living on another planet.


14 posted on 01/25/2006 9:01:28 PM PST by Fledermaus (Please explain the difference between Al-Qaeda and the Left? Anyone? Anyone?)
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To: neverdem

So it's a homely little planet, it's just that the -220 C climate might make this one a really tough fixer-upper sell.


15 posted on 01/25/2006 9:04:16 PM PST by xJones
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To: AndrewB
where's the obligatory Helen Thomas pic. We have rules around here ya know...NO!!!! NOT THAT! :P
16 posted on 01/25/2006 9:10:36 PM PST by skinkinthegrass (Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you :^)
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To: skinkinthegrass
BWAHAHAHAHAHAH!


17 posted on 01/25/2006 9:12:53 PM PST by Dallas59 ((“You love life, while we love death"( Al-Qaeda & Democratic Party))
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To: Dallas59

There's a new ring in hell waiting for you....


18 posted on 01/25/2006 9:17:25 PM PST by xJones
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To: xJones
it's just that the -220 C climate might make this one a really tough fixer-upper sell.

with a Planet, Full of Democrats...w/ all that HOT AIR...after 28,000 yearlight distance/travelling @ 1/2 c...It should just be bearable, by the time we get there. :^/

19 posted on 01/25/2006 9:17:30 PM PST by skinkinthegrass (Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you :^)
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To: Dallas59
D@#N!..glad, we were forewarned. :D
20 posted on 01/25/2006 9:20:02 PM PST by skinkinthegrass (Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you :^)
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To: neverdem

I wish they wouldn't call these planets "Earthlike", it has no resemblence to the warm, ocean planet on which we live.


21 posted on 01/25/2006 9:24:34 PM PST by Brett66 (Where government advances – and it advances relentlessly – freedom is imperiled -Janice Rogers Brown)
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To: KevinDavis; AntiGuv

sci. ping


22 posted on 01/25/2006 9:26:51 PM PST by skinkinthegrass (Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you :^)
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To: AndrewB
OK, where's the obligatory Helen Thomas pic. We have rules around here ya know...

What's that reason or rule? It's late and folks want to sleep.

23 posted on 01/25/2006 9:37:18 PM PST by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem

So would that make it an "M Class Planet"?


24 posted on 01/25/2006 11:04:10 PM PST by ChocChipCookie (Democrats: soulless minions of orthodoxy.)
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To: ChocChipCookie
So would that make it an "M Class Planet"?

Since at least Microsoft, Google and Yahoo are in cahoots with the Chicoms, why don't you Ask Jeeves and tell the rest of us? I only took one formal class in astronomy many moons ago.

25 posted on 01/25/2006 11:28:19 PM PST by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem

That was just a little Star Trek humor. I guess I've watched a few too many episodes. :O)


26 posted on 01/25/2006 11:31:34 PM PST by ChocChipCookie (Democrats: soulless minions of orthodoxy.)
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To: ChocChipCookie

We don't know the atmosphere yet it seems.


27 posted on 01/26/2006 5:13:08 AM PST by Bogey78O (<thinking of new tagline>)
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To: Bogey78O
We don't know the atmosphere yet it seems.

I'm not sure if anything other than hydrogen and helium are still gases at -220 C (53 K).

28 posted on 01/26/2006 7:55:00 AM PST by steve-b (A desire not to butt into other people's business is eighty percent of all human wisdom)
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To: steve-b

"of habitable worlds."

Excuse me, other then earth where is there a habitable world?


29 posted on 01/26/2006 7:57:16 AM PST by edcoil (Reality doesn't say much - doesn't need too)
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To: RightWhale; Brett66; xrp; gdc314; anymouse; NonZeroSum; jimkress; discostu; The_Victor; ...
It seems like they are find smaller planets.. Maybe I should start a pool when we truly find a Earth like planet..


30 posted on 01/26/2006 5:38:49 PM PST by KevinDavis (http://www.cafepress.com/spacefuture)
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To: ChocChipCookie

Take it from me, you can NEVER watch too many Star Trek episodes.


31 posted on 01/26/2006 5:44:39 PM PST by NCC-1701 (RADICAL ISLAM IS A CULT. IT MUST BE ELIMINATED.)
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To: edcoil
Excuse me, other then earth where is there a habitable world?

That depends on what you mean by "habitable". If you mean walk around in jeans and a t-shirt and have an outdoor barbecue...

We haven't found any.

On the other hand, if you allow spacesuits and airtight habitat modules lots of places are habitable.

32 posted on 01/26/2006 7:06:10 PM PST by wyattearp (The best weapon to have in a gunfight is a shotgun - preferably from ambush.)
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To: Chena
Also, what is -220 degrees C compared to Farenheit?

Fahrenheit is 9/5C + 32. So, that would make it a somewhat chilly -364 degrees F. Not exactly shirtsleeve weather.

33 posted on 01/26/2006 7:10:23 PM PST by wyattearp (The best weapon to have in a gunfight is a shotgun - preferably from ambush.)
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To: neverdem
OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb is only the third planet found using the microlensing technique so far, but astronomers expect to spot many more.

So that makes the name of the inhabitants of the planet OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lbians?

34 posted on 01/26/2006 7:16:13 PM PST by Heatseeker (Never underestimate the left's tendency to underestimate us.)
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To: neverdem

I'm curious why a terrestrial planet massing 5.5 Earths wouldn't have retained it's H/He atmosphere and remained a gas giant. I bet this is a captured planet from a much hotter solar system.


35 posted on 01/27/2006 9:28:16 AM PST by Centurion2000 (Governments want to copy all the data on you in existence, but will prosecute you for an mp3 copied.)
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To: neverdem
5.5 Earth masses, in a distant orbit from a red dwarf, and -220 C in summer?

Not exactly "homey", but we'll start finding nice nitro-oxy-hydro planets before long.

And hopefully figure out a way to get there and conquer them.

36 posted on 01/28/2006 2:18:04 PM PST by FierceDraka ("Sure as I know anything, I know this: I aim to misbehave." - Capt. Mal Reynolds)
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To: Frank_2001
28,000 light years is kind of far away; can't they find something closer-like, say, 20 or 30 light years?

Finding planets in the Alpha Centauri system would be nice. Seeing as it's a fairly tight binary system (unless you count Proxima), it's unlikely to have any massive, easily-detectable gas giants.

Still, any habitable or terraformable planets around Alpha Centauri A or B might be a little too close to Earth and its meddling UN for some colonists.

37 posted on 01/28/2006 2:22:58 PM PST by FierceDraka ("Sure as I know anything, I know this: I aim to misbehave." - Capt. Mal Reynolds)
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To: FierceDraka
I think America should declare the moon American property. We were there first. We have never really explored there, who knows what goodies could be under ground (never know it could have 100 trillion barrels of crude LOL.)
38 posted on 01/28/2006 2:24:32 PM PST by spikeytx86
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To: spikeytx86
I think America should declare the moon American property. We were there first. We have never really explored there, who knows what goodies could be under ground (never know it could have 100 trillion barrels of crude LOL.)

Possession is 9/10's of the law.

But I'm afraid there's no crude on the moon. Plenty of tasty H3 for fusion, though.

39 posted on 01/28/2006 11:31:24 PM PST by FierceDraka ("Sure as I know anything, I know this: I aim to misbehave." - Capt. Mal Reynolds)
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To: neverdem

Thanks neverdem. I was wondering if I should post it, but I’d missed it before:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/1607979/posts?page=110#110


40 posted on 01/01/2008 2:42:19 PM PST by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/____________________Profile updated Sunday, December 30, 2007)
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To: KevinDavis; annie laurie; garbageseeker; Knitting A Conundrum; Viking2002; Ernest_at_the_Beach; ...
Note: this topic is from 2006.
 
X-Planets
· join · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post new topic ·

41 posted on 01/01/2008 2:43:07 PM PST by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/____________________Profile updated Sunday, December 30, 2007)
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Artist's conception:
NASA News: Discovery of Small, Rocky, Extrasolar World Suggests Such Planets May Be Common, from National Science Foundation press release

42 posted on 01/01/2008 2:48:03 PM PST by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/____________________Profile updated Sunday, December 30, 2007)
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To: timer
It falls in to the third portion or so of it. Just because that there maybe a planet that may support life, there has to be life on there & then there has to be intelligent life smart enough, then smart enough to communicate out into space , ect....

But let’s also think that not all of life may be carbon based. There is a strong possibility there maybe a silicon based as well out there in the great beyond.

43 posted on 01/01/2008 2:50:02 PM PST by TMSuchman (American by birth, Rebel by choice, Marine by act of GOD!)
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To: FierceDraka
And hopefully figure out a way to get there and conquer them.

Let's get Mars and the Moon under our control first. But I'm right with you on your sentiment.

44 posted on 01/01/2008 2:51:26 PM PST by AntiKev ("No damage. The world's still turning isn't it?" - Stereo Goes Stellar - Blow Me A Holloway)
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To: TMSuchman

It’s referred to as the Drake Equation, the probability of intelligent beings in UFOs visiting us. Actually the little grays are polysilane lifeforms. Polysilanes are easily photovolatized, that’s why they come at night. Their worlds have very thick cloud covers = always dark. Note the almond shaped eyes set at 90 degrees from each other = polarization at infrared wavelengths.

Google Louis DeBroglie and matter waves, his U = c^2/v equation for the speed of a matter wave crest; is c^2 a momentum-line(for fermions)or mass-area? At c^2 LINE you go(as a globality)at 1 light year in 105 sec. We’ve had the einstein c-limit hang up for too long already. See how they do it?

Finally, in the Roswell crash a metallurgical guy got a look at 3 dead aliens lying on 2 card tables : very badly sunburned from the harsh NM sunlight...polysilanes...


45 posted on 01/01/2008 4:13:20 PM PST by timer (n/0=n=nx0)
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To: I see my hands

Ah, but first you have to get nagin’s approval...


46 posted on 01/01/2008 4:17:00 PM PST by timer (n/0=n=nx0)
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To: timer
Yes, but it may take him two years to reply.

47 posted on 01/01/2008 7:27:03 PM PST by I see my hands (_8(|)
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To: I see my hands

Ah yes, but the sun won’t bloat into a red giant for another 5 billion years, that should be enough time for even a brain dead nagin to get the school buses rolling.


48 posted on 01/01/2008 7:47:37 PM PST by timer (n/0=n=nx0)
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