Thursday, July 23, 2015

Kepler, FTW

Here's some timely news, about a week after I attended a Secret Science Club lecture about the search for earthlike planets around distant stars, the Kepler team found a rocky planet orbiting in the habitable zone of another star. Phil Plait describes the planet in Slate thus:

This doesn’t mean the planet is Earthlike, though. For one thing, it’s bigger than we are: Its diameter is 1.6 times that of Earth. We don’t know its mass, unfortunately, and without that we can’t know its density. The density is what gives us our first clue about what the planet’s made of; water has a density of 1 gram per cc, but iron is 8. Rock is 2–3.

If the planet has the same stuff in it as Earth does, it’ll be more massive; four times Earth’s mass*. In that case, its surface gravity would be 1.6 times Earth. If you weighed 100 pounds on Earth, you’d weight 160 pounds there. But only if it’s rock and metal like we are. If it’s less dense (more rock) than, the surface gravity will be lower; if it’s denser (more metallic), it’ll be even higher.

Sounds like Jack Vance was onto something... at any rate, it's great to read that Kepler has had such a resounding success. How soon before we're watching alien sitcoms, picked up by radio telescopes?


mikey said...

It's also a couple billion years older than earth, and another 1400 light years away. So a whole lot more evolution and potentially societal events have happened there. If we're any example, they've already destroyed themselves in a frenetic few hundred years of industrial growth and tribal warfare. But maybe they didn't have ted cruz and GW Bush and they figured something out along the way.

But if they were an advanced civilization two or three thousand years ago and they got to their embarrassing adolescent "I Love Lucy" point in that time frame, maybe we can see it....

Sirius Lunacy said...

I ran across (a href='')this today(/a), and I immediately thought it would be something you might find interesting.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Imagine what we could do if we weren't spending trillions on wars and F-35s?