Six small planets orbiting a sun-like star amaze astronomers

Feb 02, 2011 By Tim Stephens
An artist's conception of the newly discovered planetary system shows six planets around the Sun-like star Kepler-11. Credit: NASA/Tim Pyle.

(PhysOrg.com) -- A remarkable planetary system discovered by NASA's Kepler mission has six planets around a Sun-like star, including five small planets in tightly packed orbits. Astronomers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and their coauthors analyzed the orbital dynamics of the system, determined the sizes and masses of the planets, and figured out their likely compositions--all based on Kepler's measurements of the changing brightness of the host star (called Kepler-11) as the planets passed in front of it.

"Not only is this an amazing planetary system, it also validates a powerful new method to measure the masses of ," said Daniel Fabrycky, a Hubble postdoctoral fellow at UC Santa Cruz, who led the orbital dynamics analysis. Fabrycky and Jack Lissauer, a scientist at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, are the lead authors of a paper on Kepler-11 published in the February 3 issue of Nature.

The five inner planets in the Kepler-11 system range in size from 2.3 to 13.5 times the mass of the Earth. Their orbital periods are all less than 50 days, so they orbit within a region that would fit inside the orbit of Mercury in our solar system. The sixth planet is larger and farther out, with an orbital period of 118 days and an undetermined mass.

"Of the six planets, the most massive are potentially like Neptune and Uranus, but the three lowest mass planets are unlike anything we have in our solar system," said Jonathan Fortney, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC, who led the work on understanding the structure and composition of the planets, along with UCSC graduate students Eric Lopez and Neil Miller.

The Kepler space telescope detects planets that "transit" or pass in front of their host star, causing periodic dips in the brightness of the star as measured by the telescope's sensitive photometer. The amount of the brightness reduction tells scientists how big the planet is in terms of its radius. The time between transits tells them its orbital period. To determine the planets' masses, Fabrycky analyzed slight variations in the orbital periods caused by gravitational interactions among the planets.

"The timing of the transits is not perfectly periodic, and that is the signature of the planets gravitationally interacting," he said. "By developing a model of the orbital dynamics, we worked out the masses of the planets and verified that the system can be stable on long time scales of millions of years."

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Previously, detections of transiting planets have been followed up with observations from powerful ground-based telescopes to confirm the planet and determine its mass using Doppler spectroscopy, which measures the "wobble" in the motion of the star caused by the gravitational tug of the planet. With Kepler-11, however, the planets are too small and the star (2,000 light-years away) is too faint for Doppler spectroscopy to work. This is likely to be the case with many of the planets detected by the , the main goal of which is to find small, Earth-size planets in the habitable zones of their stars.

"We will need to use orbital dynamics a lot with the Kepler mission to measure the masses of planets, so we expect to be doing a lot of those analyses," Fabrycky said.

More than 100 transiting planets have been observed by Kepler and other telescopes, but the vast majority of them are Jupiter-like gas giants, and almost all of them are in single-planet systems. The Kepler-11 system is remarkable in terms of the number of planets, their small sizes, and their closely packed orbits. Before this, astronomers had determined both size and mass for only three exoplanets smaller than Neptune. Now, a single planetary system has added five more. The sixth planet in Kepler-11 is separated enough from the others that the orbital perturbation method can't be used to determine its mass, Fabrycky said.

As is the case in our solar system, all of the Kepler-11 planets orbit in more or less the same plane. This finding reinforces the idea that planets form in flattened disks of gas and dust spinning around a star, and the disk pattern is conserved after the planets have formed, Fabrycky said. "The coplanar orbits in our solar system inspired this theory in the first place, and now we have another good example. But that and the Sun-like star are the only parts of Kepler-11 that are like the solar system," he said.

The densities of the planets (derived from mass and radius) provide clues to their compositions. All six planets have densities lower than Earth's. "It looks like the inner two could be mostly water, with possibly a thin skin of hydrogen-helium gas on top, like mini-Neptunes," Fortney said. "The ones farther out have densities less than water, which seems to indicate significant hydrogen-helium atmospheres."

That's surprising, because a small, hot planet should have a hard time holding onto a lightweight atmosphere. "These planets are pretty hot because of their close orbits, and the hotter it is the more gravity you need to keep the atmosphere," Fortney said. "My students and I are still working on this, but our thoughts are that all these planets probably started with more massive hydrogen-helium atmospheres, and we see the remnants of those atmospheres on the ones farther out. The ones closer in have probably lost most of it."

One reason a six-planet system is so exciting is that it allows scientists to make these kinds of comparisons among planets within the same system. "That's really powerful, because we can work out what's happened to this system as a whole," Fortney said. "Comparative planetary science is how we've come to understand our , so this is much better than just finding more solitary hot Jupiters around other stars."

For example, the presence of small planets with hydrogen-helium atmospheres suggests that this system formed relatively quickly, he said. Studies indicate that stellar disks lose their hydrogen and helium gas within about 5 million years. "So it tells us how quickly planets can form," Fortney said.

The inner planets are so close together that it seems unlikely they formed where they are now, he added. "At least some must have formed farther out and migrated inward. If a planet is embedded in a disk of gas, the drag on it leads to the planet spiralling inward over time. So formation and migration had to happen early on."

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kevinrtrs
1.3 / 5 (23) Feb 02, 2011
That's surprising, because a small, hot planet should have a hard time holding onto a lightweight atmosphere. "These planets are pretty hot because of their close orbits, and the hotter it is the more gravity you need to keep the atmosphere,"

This is a big problem for the accretion planetary formation theory. How could these planets have formed so close to their star? Also why do they still have water? Well at least in theory they do. Who knows just how accurate the analyses is at this point?
The scientists haven't even made sure that their analyses is correct and yet they are already coming up with reasons why the planets defy the current planetary formation model. Guess-to-facts coming up again.
the presence of small planets with hydrogen-helium atmospheres suggests that this system formed relatively quickly

So just how quickly really? Definitely not millions of years, surely? The gases would have dissipated long ago. It must have been a lot quicker than that.
ShotmanMaslo
4.9 / 5 (20) Feb 02, 2011
So just how quickly really? Definitely not millions of years, surely? The gases would have dissipated long ago. It must have been a lot quicker than that.


The answer is right in the next sentence:

Studies indicate that stellar disks lose their hydrogen and helium gas within about 5 million years. "So it tells us how quickly planets can form," Fortney said.
trekgeek1
4.6 / 5 (19) Feb 02, 2011
So just how quickly really? Definitely not millions of years, surely? The gases would have dissipated long ago. It must have been a lot quicker than that.


The answer is right in the next sentence:

Studies indicate that stellar disks lose their hydrogen and helium gas within about 5 million years. "So it tells us how quickly planets can form," Fortney said.


Ha! He was only one sentence from not looking foolish. This shows why creationists don't know their opponents positions, because they can't even be bothered to read evidence one sentence beyond their quote mine.
Modernmystic
1.5 / 5 (17) Feb 02, 2011
Yet another system that looks nothing like ours....

Bye, bye, mediocrity principle.
geokstr
4.5 / 5 (16) Feb 02, 2011
More than 100 transiting planets have been observed by Kepler and other telescopes...

They've only spotted a few smaller planets because planets of any size in earth- and larger-size orbits would only transit the star a small part of one day every year to 100s of years, and thus will take a lot more time to find them with the "transit" method. And only if the orbit orientation is on a plane where it even occults the star at all from our angle.
...but the vast majority of them are Jupiter-like gas giants...

Because they would have the most obvious effect on the star's light when they transit, even more so when they're often so close in that they orbit in a day or two.
...and almost all of them are in single-planet systems.

If they're using the transit method, how could they say that with any confidence whatsoever? See above.

I predict almost every star will have LOTS of planets and an Oort cloud when we have better technology to find them with, even brown dwarfs.
Modernmystic
2.1 / 5 (12) Feb 02, 2011
Sure we'll find more planets as our technology gets better. Still doesn't change the fact that what we ARE seeing isn't anything like what our system is like.

5 planets within the orbit of Mercury? Doesn't matter what else we see or don't see in this system...it's radically different from ours.
Skultch
3.9 / 5 (10) Feb 02, 2011
.....and within 3 hours we've already got our favorites. The drive-by coward and hold-hands-over-ears-and-yell pretend philosopher. We'll done, guys, well done. Just keep on ignoring and the rest of us will keep on improving without you.
nuge
3.1 / 5 (9) Feb 02, 2011
How's the Drake Equation looking now? I think the third term in it relates to the proportion of planets that can support life - must be getting smaller and smaller by the month with all these Hot Jupiters and what not.
Skultch
3.3 / 5 (10) Feb 02, 2011
Nahhhh, you guys aren't biased. You don't act like you want this mission to fail, at all. Also, you clearly have considered the scope of this galaxy, and this verse, understand it well, and that surely informs your opinion on the matter. For sure, you're not clinging to your mommy's fairy tales. Fo sho.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (19) Feb 02, 2011
Sure we'll find more planets as our technology gets better. Still doesn't change the fact that what we ARE seeing isn't anything like what our system is like.

5 planets within the orbit of Mercury? Doesn't matter what else we see or don't see in this system...it's radically different from ours.

Well would you dip a drinking glass in the ocean, see no fish and assume that then entire ocean was fishless?

Why are you doing it with a body that is far larger than the ocean?
Caliban
3.8 / 5 (4) Feb 02, 2011
Sure we'll find more planets as our technology gets better. Still doesn't change the fact that what we ARE seeing isn't anything like what our system is like.

Yeah. Gotta say that the lack of Earth-simulating planets so far(not counting that terrestrial-band Gliese planet) is almost certainly due to sample size to this point, and the other orbital/observational factors pointed out in the article.

Probably a little premature to kick the mediocrity principle to the curb, just yet. Patience.

5 planets within the orbit of Mercury? Doesn't matter what else we see or don't see in this system...it's radically different from ours.

Sonhouse
4 / 5 (2) Feb 02, 2011
I think transit techniques will be supplanted by direct telescopic measurement with more powerful scopes of the future, maybe coupled scopes on the moon kilometers apart, able to blot out the star under question and measure atmospheric content, earth size masses and the like. This technology would all examination of ALL stars, not just ones where the planets lie in a plane with ours, a few degrees off north or south and no transit.
Modernmystic
Feb 02, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
soulman
4.1 / 5 (14) Feb 02, 2011
Sure we'll find more planets as our technology gets better. Still doesn't change the fact that what we ARE seeing isn't anything like what our system is like.

5 planets within the orbit of Mercury? Doesn't matter what else we see or don't see in this system...it's radically different from ours.

Well would you dip a drinking glass in the ocean, see no fish and assume that then entire ocean was fishless?

Why are you doing it with a body that is far larger than the ocean?

He peddled the same nonsense in another thread a while back, where it was clearly and repeatedly explained why we cannot see systems like our own (yet). The only reasonable conclusion as to why he's surreptitiously promoting our uniqueness in the universe must be due to a religious belief of godly preference.
Modernmystic
1.5 / 5 (11) Feb 02, 2011
Sure we'll find more planets as our technology gets better. Still doesn't change the fact that what we ARE seeing isn't anything like what our system is like.

5 planets within the orbit of Mercury? Doesn't matter what else we see or don't see in this system...it's radically different from ours.

Well would you dip a drinking glass in the ocean, see no fish and assume that then entire ocean was fishless?

Why are you doing it with a body that is far larger than the ocean?


I'm just looking honestly at the evidence. Are you?

Pray tell SH, how many systems do we have to look at before we satisfy your statistical threshold? Until we find that fish you're looking for?
Modernmystic
1.5 / 5 (11) Feb 02, 2011
Sure we'll find more planets as our technology gets better. Still doesn't change the fact that what we ARE seeing isn't anything like what our system is like.

5 planets within the orbit of Mercury? Doesn't matter what else we see or don't see in this system...it's radically different from ours.

Well would you dip a drinking glass in the ocean, see no fish and assume that then entire ocean was fishless?

Why are you doing it with a body that is far larger than the ocean?

He peddled the same nonsense in another thread a while back, where it was clearly and repeatedly explained why we cannot see systems like our own (yet). The only reasonable conclusion as to why he's surreptitiously promoting our uniqueness in the universe must be due to a religious belief of godly preference.


Yes we CAN see systems that might be like our own. We just don't. We can see gas giants very well. We don't see them in the right places no matter where we look.
soulman
4.6 / 5 (21) Feb 02, 2011
Yes we CAN see systems that might be like our own. We just don't. We can see gas giants very well. We don't see them in the right places no matter where we look.

Nope, we can't. Seeing a Jupiter sized planet at a Jupiter distance using the transit method is possible, but highly unlikely as the orbital period is so long. What's more, even if there was a chance occultation, it could not be confirmed as a planet, as you'd have wait another 12-24 years to complete two or three orbits. Similar problem applies to the wobble method of detection - the further out the major planet, the harder it is to spot. So we CAN'T yet detect systems like our own.

I also notice that you didn't quibble about my analysis of your true agenda.
Modernmystic
1.5 / 5 (13) Feb 02, 2011
Nope, we can't.


Yep we can. 55 Cancri d has a semimajor axis of almost 6 AU. OGLE-2006-BLG-109Lc is at 4.5 AU and much smaller than Jupiter.

You lose.
soulman
4.8 / 5 (17) Feb 02, 2011
What makes you think those systems are like our own? Because of one gas giant planet? I didn't say it was impossible to spot Jupiter+ planets farther out, I said:

"the further out the major planet, the harder it is to spot".

It took over 6 years to calculate 55 Cancri d's true orbit, so of course, these types of detections will come with much lower frequency than hot Jupiters.

Also, it's ironic that you quote the above example to support your 'argument' because it also undermines your original comment:
Still doesn't change the fact that what we ARE seeing isn't anything like what our system is like.

Oh dear. And still no refutation of your implicit agenda?
omatumr
1 / 5 (6) Feb 02, 2011
Congratulations!

It will be interesting to see if there is a gradient in the abundances of elements in these planets like those in the solar system.

youtube.com/watch?v=AQZe_Qk-q7M

a.) High abundances of iron (Fe) in planets close to the star;
b.) High abundances of lightweight elements farther away from the star.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel

Bog_Mire
not rated yet Feb 03, 2011
MM:"You lose" ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Shown up for the truely arrogant prat that he is.
ShotmanMaslo
5 / 5 (11) Feb 03, 2011
Yes we CAN see systems that might be like our own. We just don't. We can see gas giants very well. We don't see them in the right places no matter where we look.


No, we cannot see them well, especially with the transit method that is used by Kepler. The probability of detecting an extrasolar planet decreases with increasing orbit radius and decreasing mass.

That said, there are many planets discovered with similar mass and orbit to our gas giants, look at extrasolar planet encyclopedia. My search returned 34 planets with orbit between 3 and 35 AU and mass between 0.2 and 10 that of Jupiter.
antialias
5 / 5 (9) Feb 03, 2011
Yet another system that looks nothing like ours....


You have to understand that there are two types of planets which are easy to detect:
1) large gas giants (because their gravitational pull on their parent star can be detected over long observation times - the star seems to 'wobble')
2) planets very close to the star since they are much more likely to occlude it while we are watching (remember that our telescopes aren't watching every star all the time - and that the further out a planet is the less frequently and less likely -due to inclination of its plane of rotation- it is to seemingly pass before its parent star in our direction)

Planets like the earth are still beyond our ability to detect in other solar systems (only with huuuuge amounts of luck). So that the amount of close in/large planets detected versus the absence of earth-type planets detected is not an indication of frequency but of relative systemic difficulty for detecting them.
antialias
5 / 5 (10) Feb 03, 2011
How's the Drake Equation looking now?
While I like equations as much as the next scientist the Drake equation is pure BS from a scientific point of view.

Any equation in which even one parameter is 100% pure guesswork is completely useless for making predictions (because you then tune that one parameter to match any observation you might make).

The Drake equation contains no less than 5 (!) of these completely unknown variables.
Modernmystic
Feb 03, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
antialias
4.7 / 5 (14) Feb 03, 2011
MM:
I didn't say that, I said we could detect systems that MIGHT be like our own, you said we couldn't.

He's right - you are wrong. Where's the problem?

The fact that we've only found two is very telling.

Yes. It tells us you don't have a clue about astronomy. Only very few telescopes are:
a) powerfull enough to go looking for planets (none are powerfull enough to see an earth size target unless it passes infront of its star)
b) funded well enough to be able to spend time looking at one star for years each night
c) are looking at solar systems at all and not other, much more interesting stuff

Taking a quick peek at a solar system is not enough - not by a long shot.

Can we detect gas giants in orbits similar to our own system or not?

With luck. Detecting an earth type planet at an earth-type distance from a star would be a LOT more lucky. The chance is not nil but close to it even if every star in the universe had an earth-type planet.
soulman
4.6 / 5 (9) Feb 03, 2011
Oh so now we CAN detect systems that might be like our own? Which is it dipshit?

You tell me M&M, you're the one making random contrary claims (as Ethelred has already been pointed out in the "High school biology teachers" thread. You really need to get some perspective.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (6) Feb 03, 2011
Oh so now we CAN detect systems that might be like our own? Which is it dipshit?

You tell me M&M, you're the one making random contrary claims (as Ethelred has already been pointed out in the "High school biology teachers" thread. You really need to get some perspective.


I did tell you. The answer is yes.

He's right - you are wrong. Where's the problem?


No he's wrong and I provided examples. Where's the problem?


Taking a quick peek at a solar system is not enough - not by a long shot.


We've been looking for 16 years. What do you consider more than a quick peek? What you think we look at a system for five minutes than never look again? We come back to the same systems over and over and we're looking at a LOT of them. We've only found two with gas giants in orbits remotely similar to our own system.
ShotmanMaslo
5 / 5 (9) Feb 03, 2011
We've only found two with gas giants in orbits remotely similar to our own system.


We have found at least 34, look at extrasolar planet encyclopedia.

Also, from wiki:

The method is best at detecting very massive objects close to the parent star � so-called "hot Jupiters" - which have the greatest gravitational effect on the parent star, and so cause the largest changes in its radial velocity.


The method is biased against discovering planets that orbit further from the star.
SteWe
5 / 5 (8) Feb 03, 2011
Kepler is new, and much more potent that anything before. Cudos, to physorg for leaving out the more important message, and getting facts wrong (again).

The Kepler team _confirmed_ those 6 planets with "old" data - the satellite is still gathering more.
And Kepler didn't look at and observed "hundreds of transiting Jupiters":
"... number of planet candidates identified by Kepler to-date to 1,235. Of these, 68 are approximately Earth-size; 288 are super-Earth-size; 662 are Neptune-size; 165 are the size of Jupiter and 19 are larger than Jupiter. Of the 54 new planet candidates found in the habitable zone, five are near Earth-sized. The remaining 49 habitable zone candidates range from super-Earth size -- up to twice the size of Earth -- to larger than Jupiter.

Yes, we can detect habitable earthlike planets out there, and we have. (1/400 of sky, 1% geometrical chance, 20% false positive)
Pocket calc: 160,000 habitable world within 2000ly radius!
Man wrote books - God wrote the sky!
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (3) Feb 03, 2011
We have found at least 34, look at extrasolar planet encyclopedia.


I looked at a list, I saw two. If you have better information provide a link.
PaulieMac
5 / 5 (5) Feb 03, 2011
This article - and discussion - is now rather moot...

See the physorg article titled "NASA spots 54 potentially life-friendly planets"

Ahem...
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (10) Feb 03, 2011
This article - and discussion - is now rather moot...

See the physorg article titled "NASA spots 54 potentially life-friendly planets"

Ahem...


Oh GOD yes....how many times have we heard from them they have "EARTH SHATTERING NEWS!!!!!!!!" about an exoplanet? Only to find it's tidally locked, baked to death, freezing, 7 times the mass of Earth or some other such crap.

Same applies for extraterrestrial life. Remember the Mars rock...f*****g joke...

Are we going to find a planet with roughly Earth's mass in a habitable zone of a G type star? I'd be really surprised if we didn't. Does than then mean there MUST be intelligent life elsewhere in the universe....*snicker*

I'll play the atheist game. There is currently no evidence for intelligent life off the Earth...NONE. Therefore it doesn't exist until I see the evidence.
PaulieMac
5 / 5 (9) Feb 03, 2011
I'm not entirely sure what religion really has to do with the discovery of exoplanets?

I guess, from your exciteability on the topic, that whatever your belief system is hinges in some way on the uniqueness or otherwise of life on Earth... How curious.

However, that's beside the point, and in any case it's neither my business nor my concern. I was merely pointing out the availability of up to date information from Kepler, which is pertinent to the discussion. Shrug. Read it or not, as you please.
ShotmanMaslo
5 / 5 (5) Feb 03, 2011
We have found at least 34, look at extrasolar planet encyclopedia.


I looked at a list, I saw two. If you have better information provide a link.


Links dont work on this site.

Go to exoplanet.eu, enter distance 3-32 AU and mass 0.1 - 13 Jupiter masses (gas giant limit). 48 planets satisfy these conditions.

Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (12) Feb 03, 2011
Pray tell SH, how many systems do we have to look at before we satisfy your statistical threshold? Until we find that fish you're looking for?
How about we get a look at more than 0.000000000000000000000000000000001% and we'll make a judgement then.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (3) Feb 03, 2011
Go to exoplanet.eu, enter distance 3-32 AU and mass 0.1 - 13 Jupiter masses (gas giant limit). 48 planets satisfy these conditions.


Those are WAY outside the norms for our system, especially the masses. 1-2 Jupiter masses and 5-32 AU would be a better search, but lets take your results at face value.

1. How many of those systems have hot Jupiters?
2. How many of those systems have G type stars?
3. How many of those systems are single star systems?
4. What's the eccentricity of their orbits?

I could go on and on. In the end I'll bet you end up with the one or two that look anything like ours.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (8) Feb 03, 2011
Pray tell SH, how many systems do we have to look at before we satisfy your statistical threshold? Until we find that fish you're looking for?
How about we get a look at more than 0.000000000000000000000000000000001% and we'll make a judgement then.


I'll repeat. What IS your statistical threshold?
omatumr
1 / 5 (10) Feb 03, 2011
If the material in planets is ejected by the star that they orbit [1-5], then there will probably be many planetary systems similar to ours.

Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo

1. "Strange xenon, extinct superheavy elements and the solar neutrino puzzle", Science 195, 208-209 (1977).

2. "Isotopes of tellurium, xenon and krypton in the Allende meteorite retain record of nucleosynthesis", Nature 277, 615-620 (1979).

3. "Isotopically anomalous tellurium in Allende: Another relic of local element synthesis", Journal of Inorganic & Nuclear Chemistry 43, 2207-2216 (1981).

4. "Heterogeneity of isotopic and elemental compositions in meteorites: Evidence of local synthesis of the elements ", Geokhimiya (12) 1776-1801 (1981).

5. "Isotopes tell origin and operation of the Sun", AIP Conference Proceedings, volume 822, pp. 206-225 (2006).
arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0510001v1
Modernmystic
1.3 / 5 (12) Feb 03, 2011
Just FTR, and you can search my posts to verify this.

I'm a big sci-fi nut. Nothing would tickle me more than to find the galaxy teaming with intelligent life. Hell I'd be satisfied with teaming with complex life. I'm almost sure we're going to find a lot of microbial life, maybe that SHOULD tickle me but honestly I'm kinda meh about that.

The fact is that I see no evidence at all. I find no reason to be optimistic in the least on this issue. The Fermi paradox, our observations to date, reading Rare Earth and realizing the staggering number of variables that had to come together for this planet to be what it is....

Good luck being "successful" Kepler. Whatever it finds will be exciting to me. It's like if two teams are playing in the Superbowl that I don't give a shit about.
soulman
4.5 / 5 (8) Feb 03, 2011
The Fermi paradox, our observations to date, reading Rare Earth and realizing the staggering number of variables that had to come together for this planet to be what it is....

Ah, finally the implicit subtext I alluded to before comes out. Why didn't you acknowledge it before? God made Earth special.
nuge
2.7 / 5 (6) Feb 03, 2011
No. The orbital radius and velocity of the solar system in the Milky Way disc, the characteristics of Sol, the stabilising presence of Jupiter in the Solar system, the size of the Earth, the presence of the right elements in the atmosphere and the oceans, and the early collision of a dwarf planet called Theia with the Earth to form an unusually large moon, kick start plate tectonics, and create a high rotational speed and appropriate tilt of the axis are what made Earth special.
soulman
4.4 / 5 (7) Feb 03, 2011
No. The orbital radius...what made Earth special.

Dude, re-read my post again and the entire thread for that matter before responding to what you *think* I'm saying.
nuge
2 / 5 (3) Feb 03, 2011
Don't panic, I'm just agreeing with your sentiments. Maybe you should have considered that before one-starring me.
soulman
5 / 5 (1) Feb 03, 2011
Don't panic, I'm just agreeing with your sentiments. Maybe you should have considered that before one-starring me.

I guess I was confused about your agreement by your one rating.
nuge
5 / 5 (1) Feb 03, 2011
Ah I see. Well that wasn't me, for the record.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.3 / 5 (8) Feb 04, 2011
How about we get a look at more than 0.000000000000000000000000000000001% and we'll make a judgement then.


I'll repeat. What IS your statistical threshold?

How about 50% of the galaxy.

At current technology that will only take a few hundred million years or so. Maybe this will reference the scope of the project appropriately for you.
Modernmystic
1.1 / 5 (7) Feb 04, 2011
How about we get a look at more than 0.000000000000000000000000000000001% and we'll make a judgement then.


I'll repeat. What IS your statistical threshold?

How about 50% of the galaxy.

At current technology that will only take a few hundred million years or so. Maybe this will reference the scope of the project appropriately for you.


So you're REALLY saying we need to image 50% of all stars for a good sampling? Mmmmkay.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (6) Feb 04, 2011
The Fermi paradox, our observations to date, reading Rare Earth and realizing the staggering number of variables that had to come together for this planet to be what it is....

Ah, finally the implicit subtext I alluded to before comes out. Why didn't you acknowledge it before? God made Earth special.


Ah, finally the implicit subtext, God doesn't exist and the Earth is not special.

You arrogant prigs are all the same.

And FTR I did NOT used to think the Earth was special. THEN we started getting hard data and it's hard to argue with.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.9 / 5 (8) Feb 04, 2011
So you're REALLY saying we need to image 50% of all stars for a good sampling? Mmmmkay.
Plus
Ah, finally the implicit subtext, God doesn't exist and the Earth is not special.

You arrogant prigs are all the same.

And FTR I did NOT used to think the Earth was special. THEN we started getting hard data and it's hard to argue with.
confirms that you're looking at the current data and extrapolating it to the whole in order to reinforce your presupposition. Let's say we do it your way, and extrapolate all the known planets to the rest of the Universe.

That means there is an utterly massive amount of planets like Earth. Don't discount yourself when you're looking at the total of something.
Modernmystic
1.1 / 5 (7) Feb 04, 2011
SH did you not just read what I said?

My presupposition was that the Earth was NOT special in any way. I believe in isotropy, and there was no good reason not to believe in the principle of mediocrity. That kind of thinking has guided is very well so far in our search for knowledge. Actually isotropy isn't even an arguable point but a FACT.

It just seems that while the laws of the universe seem to apply wherever we look, and we see the same kinds of galaxies, stars, dust, etc etc wherever we look that the systems we've been able to see simply DO NOT look like ours.

Moreover I think it's disingenuous to say we couldn't see systems that might "fit our bill". We can. I agree we don't have a good enough sampling of systems as yet, but we aren't completely without data either. I think it's just silly to ignore it, or pretend it's saying something it clearly isn't.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.7 / 5 (7) Feb 04, 2011
MM, again, you're ignoring the ground under your own feet.

There are 8 known planets in our solar system. There is somewhere north of 200 suspected exoplanets, for example purposes let's say 192.
So that would mean, every 200th planet is just like Earth if we use your method. Planets have a wide variance of what we think they can and cannot be. We've already proved that presupposition completely incorrect, so planets have an even wider variance. Do you see why it is ridiculous to start making any sort of a bet on the uniqueness or lack thereof when it comes to Earth like planets.
Modernmystic
1.7 / 5 (7) Feb 04, 2011
There are 8 known planets in our solar system. There is somewhere north of 200 suspected exoplanets, for example purposes let's say 192.
So that would mean, every 200th planet is just like Earth if we use your method.


How so? You totally lost me there.

Planets have a wide variance of what we think they can and cannot be. We've already proved that presupposition completely incorrect, so planets have an even wider variance.


Indeed, which makes it less likely that one will be like Earth. The higher the variance the less the similarity.

Do you see why it is ridiculous to start making any sort of a bet on the uniqueness or lack thereof when it comes to Earth like planets.


I'm sorry man I just don't. Try again because I know there's something there you're honestly trying to tell me and I'm missing.

I'd honestly like to believe that we're not alone, or that there's likely to be a lot of "people" out there. Help me out.
TehDog
not rated yet Feb 04, 2011
I read threads like this, and I think of this...
htDELETEtp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWVshkVF0SY
Then I remember the last two lines and sigh...
ShotmanMaslo
5 / 5 (6) Feb 04, 2011
Moreover I think it's disingenuous to say we couldn't see systems that might "fit our bill". We can.


Of all the planets in our system, we could detect maybe Jupiter, and if we are lucky, some of the inner planets by transit method used by Kepler. It is too soon to make any statistical comparison with our system yet.
Gawad
5 / 5 (8) Feb 04, 2011
5 years guys, 5 years post launch. Otherwise we're just getting ahead of ourselves. We know what Kepler's search parameters are, what it can and can't find based on its search method, its field of view, etc. Expect that planets in Goldie-Locks orbits could take up to *at least* a couple of years to transit sun-like stars, and give the Kepler research teams at least a couple of years to sort, analyze and prepare data and then to publish. Kepler is a fantastic mission, unlike anything that has preceded it, but give it time. Four more years before starting to draw hard(er) conclusions either way isn't that long.
AdamCC
4.6 / 5 (9) Feb 04, 2011
So you're REALLY saying we need to image 50% of all stars for a good sampling? Mmmmkay.


Ok, so how about 1%? Is it reasonable to want to look at 1% before drawing a conclusion? I should certainly think so. Furthermore, we should look at said 1% with technology capable of deterministically detecting planets of any remotely normal size/orbit - that is, knowing for sure if an observed star has a planet of any given size and orbit, rather than having a much higher chance of detecting planets not like those in our solar system.

Neither of those - 1% or detecting all sizes/orbits with certainty - is REMOTELY within our current technology. So while current results are interesting, they're the furthest thing from conclusive.

And watch your language. It just makes you look dumb when you drop f bombs left and right.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (6) Feb 04, 2011
Moreover I think it's disingenuous to say we couldn't see systems that might "fit our bill". We can.


Of all the planets in our system, we could detect maybe Jupiter, and if we are lucky, some of the inner planets by transit method used by Kepler. It is too soon to make any statistical comparison with our system yet.


We have detected a gas giant at about 4.5 AU. We can detect "our kind of Jupiters".

Ok, so how about 1%? Is it reasonable to want to look at 1% before drawing a conclusion?


A solid conclusion, yes that's fair.

Neither of those - 1%


True

or detecting all sizes/orbits with certainty


Patently false. We have detected said planets. We don't need to detect them ALL. We've detected precious few and we've certainly been looking long enough.

And watch your language. It just makes you look dumb when you drop f bombs left and right.


Fuck you. Clear enough?
Skultch
5 / 5 (5) Feb 04, 2011
And you call US biased? You hypocritical fuck.

Why would you consider the mission a failure?


Ouch. Did touch a nerve that day? I've noticed when I'm the MOST mad at someone, it's actually myself I'm mad at, upon deeper reflection. You?

You know very well there is a broad, general discovery mission, and hoped for mission with Kepler. You're just being argumentative. I've been busy, have you calmed down yet? I still have a couple dozen posts to catch up on here....
AdamCC
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 04, 2011
Patently false. We have detected said planets. We don't need to detect them ALL. We've detected precious few and we've certainly been looking long enough.


You are so completely wrong, it's ridiculous. Yes, we are capable of detecting most possible orbits some of the time, with enough effort ... but our detection methods are massively biased towards larger planets and smaller orbits. Before we can make any kind of statistical conclusion, we need to be able to KNOW if a star has a planet of a more median orbit/size, without requiring years of study. And even if not (which is ridiculous, but whatever), we're still FAR from that 1%, so your conclusion is still completely invalid.

A REQUEST: Everyone, whichever side of the argument you are on. Please flag Modernmystic's posts as inappropriate. For those on my side, it's annoying and insulting. For those on his side, it has the effect of invalidating any of his arguments which might otherwise hold any weight.
AdamCC
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 04, 2011
Ok, so how about 1%? Is it reasonable to want to look at 1% before drawing a conclusion?


A solid conclusion, yes that's fair.


Ok, argument over then. Until we've got at least 1% data, your conclusion about the majority of planets being to close or too big is completely invalid, regardless of any other points. So, discussion over. We cannot prove that it is the other way either - but we never insisted on that. Only that you were wrong in your conclusion. And you have now admitted that.
TehDog
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 04, 2011

A REQUEST: Everyone, whichever side of the argument you are on. Please flag Modernmystic's posts as inappropriate.

As much as I would like to, I cannot. The right to free speech is something I will not deny. Voltaire anyone?
ShotmanMaslo
5 / 5 (7) Feb 05, 2011
We've detected precious few and we've certainly been looking long enough.


Why do you think so? We have detected few because we have been looking for just a few years, while Jupiter-like planets need long-term observations, and they are on the edge of our detection capabilities anyway. Detecting such planets is not a trivial thing. Hot Jupiters are by far easiest to detect, and that is why we see so much of those. It is too soon to make statistical comparisons yet.
ScientistAmauterEnthusiast
4.5 / 5 (4) Feb 05, 2011
We aren't using techniques capable of giving an impartial test sample: to those saying earth like planets are rare because we haven't been seeing them.
Quantum_Conundrum
2.2 / 5 (6) Feb 05, 2011
In order to increase your chances of observing a transit, you'd need telescopes spread out in space. For example, have them at 1a.u. from the sun in every direction on every axis...1a.u above, 1.au. below, 1 to the left, 1 right, 1 front, one behind, etc.

With just one telescope you have to be looking at exactly the right time, and the transit may not even be on the plane you are looking across. With multiple telescopes on multiple planes, you can see a much larger number of transits. Though the cluster they are looking at is very far away so this would only help by a few fractions of a percent, but mainlay it would help rule out "noise" by giving a bit more of a "3d" perspective, and if it gets lucky and catchs a transit or two that the 1 telescope could not have caught, so much the better.

Unfortunately, space agencies lke to make a set of blueprints, make one copy of the design, and then throw away the blueprints...highly efficient they are....not...
Skeptic_Heretic
4.8 / 5 (6) Feb 05, 2011
MM,

I'm sorry man I just don't. Try again because I know there's something there you're honestly trying to tell me and I'm missing.

I'd honestly like to believe that we're not alone, or that there's likely to be a lot of "people" out there. Help me out.

You're forgetting to count the Earth as one of the multiple planets we've discovered in the Universe.

Beyond that my estimate above was incredibly low. On a side note, the Keppler team has announced 50 new planets that are within the habitable zone of their parent star. No word on the presence of water in the spectroscopy yet.
MorituriMax
3.5 / 5 (2) Feb 05, 2011
Modernmystic, My presupposition was that the Earth was NOT special in any way.

Why not? Or is this something else that you take for granted and have made up your mind about? Sure, good physics goes with the premise that everyplace is the same as every other place, but why couldn't we be special anyway? We must have SOMETHING going for us or surely we would be seeing trillions of spaceships from all over the galaxy all the time as they pass through and by us here. If nothing else, maybe we're one of the special places that hasn't had long enough to wipe ourselves out, or been wiped out by the universe.
AdamCC
3 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2011
As much as I would like to, I cannot. The right to free speech is something I will not deny. Voltaire anyone?


It's not about free speech. He has the right to go and express his opinions anywhere anyone is willing to listen.

I was asking to report him as abuse for his language, not his opinions. Sure, he also has the right to that language - but we have the right to restrict it here (that's why they give ability to report abuse in the first place). We can choose to create a more pleasant reading environment.
Quantum_Conundrum
3.3 / 5 (3) Feb 06, 2011
If nothing else, maybe we're one of the special places that hasn't had long enough to wipe ourselves out, or been wiped out by the universe.


Just think. The Crab Pulsar alone has sterilized around 697 to 1150 cubic light years with it's insanely massive and energetic ejecta, plus radiation.

If this supernova had happened at around the range of proxima centauri, probably every planet in our solar system would be destroyed, swept away in the ejecta, and the expanding cloud would already be 2 light years behind us in the opposite direction...
antialias
4.8 / 5 (8) Feb 07, 2011
, you'd need telescopes spread out in space. For example, have them at 1a.u. from the sun in every direction on every axis...1a.u above, 1.au. below, 1 to the left, 1 right, 1 front, one behind, etc.

The additional angle you'd get is so incredibly tiny that it makes next to no difference.
Assuming two telescopes optimally placed one AU above and one AU below the plane of rotation of the target star you'd get an additional angle of observation of 0.0004° for our NEAREST neighbor.
For any star further out (i.e. many of the stars we've been looking at) that angle would get much, MUCH smaller.

In order to really get any benefit for our next door neighbors alone we'd need baselines lightyears wide - which is still a bit beyond our abilities.
Modernmystic
1.2 / 5 (10) Feb 07, 2011
Modernmystic, My presupposition was that the Earth was NOT special in any way.

Why not?


Because, from a historical/scientific perspective, thinking there is something special about the Earth has always been proven WRONG. That clear it up for you?

Now were you talking about something being special about HUMAN BEINGS? Those are two different things in case you weren't aware.

Earth=Planet. Human beings=Intelligent life on a planet. GET IT?
stealthc
1.4 / 5 (8) Feb 07, 2011
MM, do you smoke jefferies or something? I saw it in a movie once, you take a bunch of ssri's, crush them up into a fine powder, then mix in a bit of weed to make it burn. Smoke one and tell us if it helps....
Modernmystic
1.2 / 5 (12) Feb 07, 2011
You're forgetting to count the Earth as one of the multiple planets we've discovered in the Universe.


Weren't you the one talking about needing more data points for an analysis. One point of data is meaningless. We could be a fluke JUST AS EASILY as the norm. There is simply no way to know with literally one point of data.

On a side note, the Keppler team has announced 50 new planets that are within the habitable zone of their parent star. No word on the presence of water in the spectroscopy yet.


No word on anything about them. The kinds of stars they are orbiting, their masses, if their orbits are highly elliptical, atmosphere, plate tectonics, the presence of a large moon, etc etc etc. This is the problem with proponents of the old 1960s thinking when the drake equation came out. We know SO much more now than we did then. There are literally hundreds of variables he didn't know about at the time and each one significantly reduces the estimate.
stealthc
1.9 / 5 (9) Feb 07, 2011
lol it's like the facts go in one ear, and spill out the other. Dude plug your ear that seeping grey matter is not cool! You'll stain the carpet.
Modernmystic
1.4 / 5 (11) Feb 07, 2011
MM, do you smoke jefferies or something? I saw it in a movie once, you take a bunch of ssri's, crush them up into a fine powder, then mix in a bit of weed to make it burn. Smoke one and tell us if it helps....


Oh you "saw it in a movie"...*snicker*. Sounds like you did too many, or maybe still are...

stealth, why are you humping my leg? I didn't even look in your direction. Be a good dog now and hump someone elses...thanks.
stealthc
2 / 5 (8) Feb 07, 2011
hmmm I haven't personally tried them myself but I've seen people with your specific personality disorder get cured by them.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (6) Feb 07, 2011
hmmm I haven't personally tried them myself but I've seen people with your specific personality disorder get cured by them.


Pfft it's your story, tell it how you like...
stealthc
1.5 / 5 (8) Feb 07, 2011
something hump mm's leg? LMAO even the dogs are scared!

For one of those weirdo self-admitted sci-fi nuts, I would love to know what your qualifications are, aside from couch potatoe? How'd that mcjob been treating you?
stealthc
1 / 5 (7) Feb 07, 2011
eye shuld talc een a way da retard kan und3rstan.duh.

Sipping aspartame pop and ploughing back potatoe chips doesn't count as learning or anything educational. eerr...

seeeping aspourtome poop eaynd plowing baak potayto cheeps dosn't c.unt ass lernig oar nething edumacational.

Hope that helps, I don't speak idiot very well it must've taken you years to master it.
Modernmystic
1.4 / 5 (11) Feb 07, 2011
Must have taken you years to master the fine art of forum leg humping. Boy I must have touched a nerve to get you to respond twice within four minutes of each other.

How about you hug yourself and say out loud "I love me" sixty times. Then maybe your self esteem will allow you to go back to the corner with the other kids who pick their noses and can't color inside the lines.

stealthc
1.4 / 5 (10) Feb 07, 2011
lmao it is funny watching you take about 5 of my words, twist them around into opposites. You're very good at creationist crap, like creating straw-man arguments.

I know a troll when I see one, it was fun riling you up I am sure there are other people kicking around who'll carry the torch. I work for a living, unlike mr. mcjob (mm for short), who appears to have almost the whole day to do whatever. I am sure AISH loves you very much...

Shouldn't you be off to go speak klingon at some convention or whatever?
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (9) Feb 07, 2011
You're the little prick that started this ad hom war. Can't finish what you start?

Bet that's a big problem with you in general. Feel sorry for your girlfriend...assuming there are a lot of shovel faced desperate 60 year old grandma's in your berg that will have a drooling slope headed moron like you that is.
stealthc
2.5 / 5 (11) Feb 07, 2011
I can see why it took you 5 minutes to write that paragraph, quite the string of verbiage, though a bit stinky considering most people talk out of their mouths and you talk out of your ass.

I really couldn't take offense to "drooling slope headed moron", better that than someone a shy iq point away from being a vegetable invalid, type writing monkey, such as yourself.

Keep on typing maybe you'll get a job at getting fed inedible banana lollipops or something. Good monkey.
Modernmystic
1.4 / 5 (10) Feb 07, 2011
See there I knew I could poke that tiny reservoir of self esteem and make you post back. Keep em coming Nancy. I know it makes you feel like you got your big boy pants on...

Remember, hug yourself at least 40 times a day, you can love you even if no one else does...

Always happy to help the emotionally crippled :)
d_robison
5 / 5 (8) Feb 07, 2011
See there I knew I could poke that tiny reservoir of self esteem and make you post back. Keep em coming Nancy. I know it makes you feel like you got your big boy pants on...

Remember, hug yourself at least 40 times a day, you can love you even if no one else does...

Always happy to help the emotionally crippled :)

It is hilarious how this semi-scientific debate has turned into a childish verbal exchange. Maybe we could move farther down the road of childhood to "my dad can beat up your dad" or "he started it."
Getting back to the original debate, the facts are simple:
1. We have discovered 529 extrasolar planets (exoplanet.eu/catalog.php).
2. We have not discovered life outside of our own planet.
3. Given our extremely small sample size any conclusions on what is "normal" for a solar system or for life would be pure speculation.
4. How much data is enough? Nobody knows at this point, this is a relatively new area in science and most people can't appreciate its scope.
nuge
not rated yet Feb 07, 2011
Modernmystic and stealthc: You guys suck. Stop ruining physorg with your pathetic bickering. We are men of science, ad hominem debating does not become us.
Paljor
not rated yet Feb 08, 2011
I think by "we" you mean the rest of us and not them.
omatumr
1 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2011
Material orbiting the Sun was ejected when the Sun exploded 5 Gyr ago.

See: "Isotopes of tellurium, xenon and krypton in the Allende meteorite retain record of nucleosynthesis", Nature 277, 615-620 (1979).

Probably it is logical to assume that the Sun and its planets are ordinary.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
elbeasto
5 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2011
I'll play the atheist game. There is currently no evidence for intelligent life off the Earth...NONE. Therefore it doesn't exist until I see the evidence.


Seeing as that is coming from Modernmystic, does anyone else find this rather ironic?