60 billion planets in Milky Way could hold life

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by bigarrow, Jul 2, 2013.

  1. Interesting read.


    Computerworld - Scientists from around the world have been scanning the heavens for other habitable planets to find an answer to the age-old question: Are we alone in the universe?

    A study released Monday by a team of researchers from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University finds that the odds are good that we're not.

    There may be 60 billion planets -- double the number cited in earlier studies -- in the Milky Way galaxy alone that could support life, according to the study.

    In its search, NASA has so far found only 10 or so potentially habitable planets in their search for Earth-like planets, which the space agency describes as small, rocky planets orbiting sun-like stars.

    The latest study found that cloud cover that could affect planet climate doubles the number of potentially habitable planets orbiting red dwarfs, which are the most common type of stars in the universe.

    "Most of the planets in the Milky Way orbit red dwarfs," said Nicolas Cowan, a Northwestern researcher. "A thermostat that makes such planets more clement means we don't have to look as far to find a habitable planet."

    The Northwestern-University of Chicago team based their findings on computer simulations of cloud behavior on alien planets.

    Data collected from NASA's Kepler Telescope, which has been searching for potentially habitable planets orbiting other stars for the last four years, showed NASA scientists that each red dwarf could have one planet orbiting in its habitable zone, a relatively small area where an Earth-like planet could maintain liquid water on its surface.

    The study that was released this week doubles that estimate.

    "Clouds cause warming, and they cause cooling on Earth," said Dorian Abbot, an assistant professor in geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago. "They reflect sunlight to cool things off, and they absorb infrared radiation from the surface to make a greenhouse effect. That's part of what keeps the planet warm enough to sustain life."

    Last week, a group of astronomers working with the European Southern Observatory reported the discovery of a solar system with three super-Earths that could possibly hold liquid water and thus support life.

    The three potentially habitable planets are part of a system of at least six planets that orbit a star known as Gliese 667C, which is 22 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Scorpius or The Scorpion.

    It was the first time that three planets have been found orbiting in a habitable zone in the same system.

    Meanwhile, NASA in April reported that its Kepler Space Telescope found two other planets, 1,200 light years from earth, that are perfectly sized and positioned to potentially hold life.

    The Kepler telescope has been a critical tool for scientists hunting the heavens for Earth-like planets. Last fall, the telescope finished its prime mission but NASA scientists extended its search efforts.

    However, Kepler ran into trouble in May when it lost the use of one of the four wheels that control its orientation in space.

    The malfunction means NASA is no longer able to manipulate the telescope's positioning. Ground engineers also are having a hard time communicating with it since the communications link comes and goes as the spacecraft spins uncontrollably.

    If the Kepler telescope isn't repaired, astronomers will be forced to rely even more on the James Webb Telescope, NASA's next great observatory. With the James Web Telescope, which isn't slated to launch until 2018, scientists will test the validity of their findings about cloud cover influencing the number of potentially habitable planets.
  2. I thought that said 60 billion peanuts in Milky way (candy bar).
  3. Tsing Tao

    Tsing Tao

    I love this stuff. Unfortunately, we could find a definite planet to support life tomorrow and we'll still never get to it without figuring out how to break the impossible to break faster-than-light threshold.
  4. One day science might be able to effectively break the speed of light threshold with an engine that can simultaneously expand space behind it and collapse space in front of it, allowing a ship to ride a wave that would transfer it a distance faster than a light beam would travel under regular conditions. The ship would not move faster than light in it's own warped space bubble, it's the warped space wave that would move faster than light.

    So scientists speculate.

    But it is an interesting idea.
  5. There's no speed limit in space so how do you stop?
  6. Turn the warp drive off. An Alcubierre drive. Very interesting idea:


    I'd like to put my ex-wife in such a contraption.
  7. toolazy


    bunch of dreamers.

    science is just another bubble.

    I should stick to volente bar and grill only :confused:
  8. Fascinating article. The problem is how would we ever scan these planets for life? It seems like we know that there might be life on these planets but we don’t have any good way to check this.
  9. NASA is working on it:

    By: Jillian Scharr
    Published: 05/14/2013 11:20 AM EDT on TechNewsDaily

    "However, there's a loophole in Einstein's general theory of relativity that could allow a ship to traverse vast distances in less time than it would take light. The trick? It's not the starship that's moving — it's the space around it.
    In fact, scientists at NASA are right now working on the first practical field test toward proving the possibility of warp drives and faster-than-light travel. Maybe the warp drive on "Star Trek" is possible after all. [See also: Warp Drive: Can It Be Done? (Video)]"

    There are a number of patents on it, out there, domestic and international.
  10. The speed of light is such an interesting topic in that light doesn't act like you think it should. For instance...if you got in a spaceship and traveled 185,999 miles per second (1 mps slower than the speed of light) logic dictates that if someone pointed a flashlight at you after you left, the light would pass you at 1 mps. But according to the theory of relativity thats not the case. The light would pass at 186,000 mps. Apparently they say light doesnt behave in time the same way everything else does.
    #10     Jul 6, 2013