After about 11 years of data collection, scientists studying a star system 20 light years away have discovered a world a little bigger than Earth. That world is in the middle of the habitable zone around it's parent star, that area is also known as the 'Goldilocks Zone' because it isn't too hot or too cold for liquid water to exist.
To put that into comparison, Earth is also in the middle of our Sun's habitable zone.
You can get more info about the discovery here.
This is really just fantastic honestly! I have been waiting to hear this line for a long time, "The fact that we were able to detect this planet so quickly and so nearby tells us that planets like this must be really common."
I've heard countless times that they thought a planet like Earth was few and far between yet there were likely chances others like our's existed, but now they say they are likely common? Love it. It could be decades or more but I hope sooner or later complex life is discovered on another planet. Nothing could excite me more honestly.
Actually, what I'm waiting for is the discovery of 'Endor' worlds. If you remember the 'forest moon of Endor' from Star Wars it was an Earth-like moon around a gas giant planet. I've been looking at the lists of exoplanets (it's almost 500 planets now) and there are LOTS of large gas giant planets inside the habitable zones of other stars.... and some of them are way bigger than Jupiter so the likelyhood of having large habitable moons is pretty high.
Another example of that type of world was in the movie Avatar.
Last edited by Wowzers; October 01, 2010 at 12:02 AM.
There is something weird in the article mentioned. It is said "if these are rare, we shouldn't have been able to find one so soon". Seems like a rather absurd comment. The whole issue is about probability. In that sense, this planet being close does not provide evidence that planets like earth are in any way common. It is not impossible that there is a planet similar to earth near earth, it is merely unlikely. Who is the say the next planet similar to earth is actually on the other side of the galaxy? Even if we found that there are 100 habitable worlds in distances which could be considered "close" to earth, if those 100 planets are the only of their kind then by all intents and purposes habitable worlds would be absurdly rare.
Rarity is a relative term: there are an estimated 125 billion galaxies in the universe, so the probability of at least one star per galaxy having a habitable planet is very high. Odds are that billions of planets are within the habitable zone of a star, large enough for gravity to hold an atmosphere and maintain a magnet field to protect from stellar radiation. Considering the moons of Titan and Europa in our Solar System there may be bodies that meet the requirements to sustain life without being in the habitable zones of extra-solar stars.
It's interesting but imo all these expenses spent on such things are way too much compared to the problems we still have on our own planet. I simply don't see how this information could be of any worth to us. Not only is it most likely physically impossible to ever reach it, we also are far away from reaching any other planets.
Well, some of us believe information in itself has value. Of course it has no practical use within the immediate short term however this knowledge could lead to many other fascinating discoveries(proving there is life in other planets would be outright epic and definitely change our view of the world for instance).
Also i agree with kkck about the odd statement that those planets shouldn't be a rarity,because they found it surprisingly quick.It could be the only one in the whole universe and we happened to find it already.There could also be a thrillion and we will find another two next week.As kkck already said,it's all about probability.