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Read this Cool Science Article

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout' started by peleincubus, Aug 24, 2016.

  1. peleincubus

    peleincubus Member

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    http://gizmodo.com/new-earth-like-exoplanet-could-be-discovery-of-the-cent-1785614793

    New Earth-like exoplanet could be Discovery of the Century

    In what’s being hailed as one of the biggest astronomical discoveries of the century, scientists with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) today confirmed the discovery of an Earth-like exoplanet in the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri—our nearest neighboring star. Details of the team’s discovery were just published in Nature.

    Rumors of a possible Earth-like exoplanet first surfaced on August 12 in the German weekly Der Spiegel. Citing an anonymous source with the La Silla Observatory research team, the magazine claimed the rumored planet “is believed to be Earth-like and orbits at a distance to Proxima Centauri that could allow it to have liquid water on its surface—an important requirement for the emergence of life.”

    Now we know those rumors were true: There is clear evidence for a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, a small red dwarf star located just 4.25 light years away, slightly closer to Earth than the famous binary pair of Alpha Centauri A and B. It’s been dubbed Proxima b, and the ESO team pegs its mass as being roughly 1.3 times that of Earth.

    Its orbit is 4.3 million miles from Proxima Centauri, just 5 percent of the distance between Earth and our own Sun. But the star is also much cooler than our Sun, so Proxima b still lies within the so-called “habitable zone” for exoplanets, with temperatures sufficient for water to be in a liquid state on the surface.

    Since the first exoplanet was discovered in 1995, astronomers have identified more than 3000 such bodies orbiting distant stars. “We live in a universe that is teeming with terrestrial planets,” Pedro Amado of the Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalalucia said during a press conference this morning. Red dwarf stars like Proxima Centauri in particular are believed to be rife with small, rocky Earth-sized planets.

    According to lead author and project coordinator Guillem Anglada-Escude of Queen Mary University of London, the first hints of this new planet appeared in 2013, but there was insufficient evidence to claim discovery. The latest observation campaign is called Pale Red Dot (because Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf), inspired by Carl Sagan’s famous description of Earth as a pale blue dot.

    The team of 31 scientists from eight countries relied on the Doppler effect to detect a faint wobble in Proxima Centauri’s spectrum of light, which approaches and recedes from Earth every 11.2 days at around 3 MPH. Such a wobble could be caused by the gravitational pull of an orbiting planet. By combining data from the Pale Red Dot campaign with earlier data collected between 2000 and 2014, the astronomers confirmed a sharp peak—well above the threshold for discovery—in the Doppler shift data indicative of an Earth-sized exoplanet.

    [​IMG]

    The technology to detect Proxima b has been around for at least ten years, so why has it taken so long for astronomers to make the discovery? It’s because Proxima Centauri is pretty active as stars go, and its natural brightness can mimic the signal of a possible planet. The team relied on observations with two other telescopes to chart how the star’s brightness changed over time, enabling them to exclude the possibility of a false positive. There is just a 1 in 10 million chance that this signal is a false positive, according to Anglada-Escude.

    It’s not yet clear whether this new exoplanet has an atmosphere. Because Proxima Centauri is a fairly active star, Proxima b suffers x-ray fluxes approximately 400 times greater than what we experience here on Earth, and this could cause any atmosphere to blow away.

    But Ansgar Reiners of the University of Gottingen in Germany said that it really depends on how and when the exoplanet formed. Did it form further out, with water present, and then migrate closer to its star, or did it form very close to Proxima Centauri? The former scenario would make an atmosphere more likely.

    “There are many models and simulations that produce very different outcomes, including possible atmosphere and water,” said Reiners. “We have no clue, but the existence of [an atmosphere] is certainly possible.” That would bode very well for the possibility of the planet harboring life. And the relative closeness to our solar system makes robotic exploration feasible within a generation.

    “The lifetime of Proxima is several trillion years, almost a thousand times longer than the remaining lifetime of the Sun,” Harvard University’s Abraham (Avi) Loeb, who chairs the advisory committee for billionaire Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Starshot Initiative, told Gizmodo. “A habitable rocky planet around Proxima would be the most natural location to where our civilization could aspire to move after the Sun will die, five billion years from now.”

    [​IMG]

    Announced to great fanfare in April, the Starshot Initiative is a $100 million research and engineering program seeking to lay the foundations for an eventual interstellar voyage. The first step involves building light-propelled “nanocrafts” that can travel up to 20 percent the speed of light. Such a spacecraft would reach the Alpha Centauri star system just over 20 years after launch. Currently, the project’s scientists are trying to demonstrate the feasibility of using powerful laser beams to propel a lightweight sail.

    According to Loeb, the discovery of a potentially habitable planet around Proxima Centauri provides an excellent target for a flyby mission. “A spacecraft equipped with a camera and various filters could take color images of the planet and infer whether it is green (harboring life as we know it), blue (with water oceans on its surface), or just brown (dry rock),” he told Gizmodo. “The curiosity to know more about the planet—most importantly whether it hosts life—will give the Starshot Initiative a sense of urgency in finding out more facts about the planet, especially those that cannot be inferred with existing telescopes from our current vantage point on Earth.”

    “We certainly hope that within a generation, we can launch these nano probes,” Peter Warden of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation said during this morning’s press conference—perhaps by 2060. “We now know there’s at least one very interesting target that’s within range of our proposed system. We can get the images to see if there is life there, possibly advanced life. Those are the great questions, and I think they’re going to be answered this century.”
     
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  2. PhiSlammaJamma

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    It's a reminder however that our communication experts are so far behind the science. We need to learn how to decipher non-intelligent commnuication here on earth with other species so that when we do make contact, we at least have a mechanism available to try and understand an alien species whether they are more intelligent or less intelligent. I can't even deal with my cat right now let alone something smarter than I am.
     
  3. Buck Turgidson

    Buck Turgidson Mineshaft Enthusiast

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    Exoplanets are badass, but I'm still waiting for them to find life on Europa or some other moon in our solar system.
     
  4. peleincubus

    peleincubus Member

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    Science not so popular :(
     
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  5. DrNuegebauer

    DrNuegebauer Member

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    Just one little thing nags at my mind:

    The plan is to figure out how to move there in 5 billion years (once our sun dies).
    But aren't we talking about moving to a planet where the sun has already died?
    So how is the red dwarf gonna look in 5 billion years time, when our sun dies? Won't it be dead too??
     
  6. Ottomaton

    Ottomaton Contributing Member
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    In case anybody missed it, that is A LOT of ionizing radiation and almost any life from Earth wouldn't be able to survive on the surface (even an atmosphere wasn't blown away), with the exception of some extremophiles, like Deinococcus radiodurans

    Nope.

    [rquoter]
    Because low-mass red dwarfs are fully convective, helium does not accumulate at the core, and compared to larger stars such as the Sun, they can burn a larger proportion of their hydrogen before leaving the main sequence. As a result, red dwarfs have estimated lifespans far longer than the present age of the universe, and stars less than 0.8 M☉ have not had time to leave the main sequence. The lower the mass of a red dwarf, the longer the lifespan. It is believed that the lifespan of these stars exceeds the expected 10 billion year lifespan of our Sun by the third or fourth power of the ratio of the solar mass to their masses; thus a 0.1 M☉ red dwarf may continue burning for 10 trillion years. As the proportion of hydrogen in a red dwarf is consumed, the rate of fusion declines and the core starts to contract. The gravitational energy released by this size reduction is converted into heat, which is carried throughout the star by convection.

    [/rquoter]

    Proxima's mass is .123 M☉, so it won't quite burn for 10 trillion years, but it will be chugging along well after the Sun is a dying ember by several orders of magnitude.

    [​IMG]

    For comparison, the lifetime of the sun in main sequence is estimated at about 10 billion years.
     
    #6 Ottomaton, Aug 24, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
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  7. Torn n Frayed

    Torn n Frayed Member

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    Let me decipher what they're gonna be saying;

    WE'RE GONNA KILL YOU AND MAKE YOU SALVES AND TAKE ALL YOUR RESOURCES
     
  8. Buck Turgidson

    Buck Turgidson Mineshaft Enthusiast

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    Maybe my skin needs it?
     
  9. KingCheetah

    KingCheetah Contributing Member

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    How far is 4 light years? If our fastest spacecraft was sent there it would take 82,000 years to reach the planet.
     
  10. Wilezra

    Wilezra Member

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    This is all well and dandy but I highly doubt the human race is going to survive the next 500yrs, much less 5 billion (until our sun dies). Considering how much we've already destroyed from Mother Nature in the past century alone, our only chance for survival is when our governments unite and form a global stand against overpopulation and excessive pollution. That or we discover planetary terraforming tech.
     
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  11. Xenon

    Xenon Contributing Member
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    There is the hope that this works out. If it does then we could get something there in 20-30 years and have a look at what is going on there.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakthrough_Starshot
     
  12. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Insider Newsletter™ 2X Diamond Member

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    I'm sure our robot overlords will shuttle our dna there sooner or later.
     
  13. CCity Zero

    CCity Zero Member

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    What's frustrating is the time it takes to get communication back after arrival (assuming ~20 years travel and then 4 years for initial communication to get back). It'd be awesome if they find a way to cheat that, obviously ...I know I'm complaining about basic laws/rules from physics etc. (especially over this distance), but I want answers now! I want instant information, not stuff in the past! this will be great regardless though, hopefully it happens sooner than later.
     
  14. DrNuegebauer

    DrNuegebauer Member

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    So you're saying there's a chance??
     
  15. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Insider Newsletter™ 2X Diamond Member

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    If robots ruled the universe, it could be that there are Dyson spheres all over the place with communications silence outside their main system.
     
  16. Jugdish

    Jugdish Member

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    Stephen Hawking recently made the point that if we find intelligent life on another planet, chances are it will be far more advanced than our own--2 or 3 million years for human evolution (a blip in the lifetime of the universe), 10,000 years for agriculture, 200 years for the Industrial Revolution. If the intelligent life is just 1,000 years ahead of us, they're technology would be incomprehensible to us. If they're a million years ahead of us, we're ants to them. Meeting them might be a terrible idea.
     
  17. HR Dept

    HR Dept Contributing Member

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    5 billion years? No worries, we have time to put that on the back burner for now.
     
  18. peleincubus

    peleincubus Member

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    I think if you look at humans on earth a 1000 years from now Hawking's ant analogy would still hold true.

    I mean that would be like iPhone 500 to 600 or so ;)
     
  19. Yung-T

    Yung-T Member

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    The screen will be 500".
     
  20. peleincubus

    peleincubus Member

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    Bigger haaa

    [​IMG]
     

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