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[Science] Smallest Planet found

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Earth's ?Bigger Cousin? Detected

By Michael Schirber

Staff Writer

posted: 13 June, 2005

2:30 p.m. ET

Astronomers announced today the discovery of the smallest planet so far found outside of our solar system.  About seven-and-a-half times as massive as Earth, and about twice as wide, this new extrasolar planet may be the first rocky world ever found orbiting a star similar to our own.

"This is the smallest extrasolar planet yet detected and the first of a new class of rocky terrestrial planets," said team member Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "It's like Earth's bigger cousin."

Currently around 150 extrasolar planets are known, and the number continues to grow. But most of these far-off worlds are large gas giants like Jupiter.  Only recently have astronomers started detecting smaller massed objects

"We keep pushing the limits of what we can detect, and we're getting closer and closer to finding Earths," said team member Steven Vogt from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

The discovery of Earth?s distant cousin was announced today at a press conference at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Va.

The new planet orbits Gliese 876, an M dwarf star 15 light years away in the constellation Aquarius.  The ?super-Earth? is not alone:  there are two other planets ? both Jupiter-sized ? in the same system.  This third world was detected by a tiny extra wobble that it caused in the central star.

From this wobble, the researchers measured a minimum mass for the new planet of 5.9 Earth masses.  The planet orbits makes a full orbit in a speedy 1.94 days, implying a distance to the central star of 2 million miles ? or about 2 percent of the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

Orbiting so close to its star, scientists speculate that the planet?s temperature is a toasty 400 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit (200 to 400 degrees Celsius).  This is likely too hot for the planet to retain much gas, like Jupiter does.  Therefore, the planet must be mostly solid.

"The planet's mass could easily hold onto an atmosphere," said Gregory Laughlin from UC Santa Cruz. "It would still be considered a rocky planet, probably with an iron core and a silicon mantle. It could even have a dense steamy water layer.?

A paper detailing these results has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal.

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/0506...uper_earth.html

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vincent    154

Wonderful news, that a smaller planet has been found :) We are getting closer to detecting Earth-sized worlds and hopefully within the "habitable zone" of there star(s) now if they find a planetary system orbiting a binary star system they say the chances for life are more likely ( depending on the AU's of the planet(s) orbit(s) )

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ph3412t3h13    0
Wonderful news, that a smaller planet has been found :) We are getting closer to detecting Earth-sized worlds and hopefully within the "habitable zone" of there star(s) now if they find a planetary system orbiting a binary star system they say the chances for life are more likely ( depending on the AU's of the planet(s) orbit(s) )

586063635[/snapback]

fancy wording ripgut :p

what i really want to know is if there is life on any other planets! we can disover all this later!

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Damo R.    29,658

yeh read this on bbc news...made interesting reading..donno if we should really find life on other planets yet we need to sort out ours first..lol

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Boffa Jones    0

The worst thing though, is that even if we do find a planet that is exactly like earth, there is a decent chance that if we ever got there we would find that civilization has come and gone and it is now a barren planet.

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emo    0
The worst thing though, is that even if we do find a planet that is exactly like earth, there is a decent chance that if we ever got there we would find that civilization has come and gone and it is now a barren planet.

586066431[/snapback]

very true. but the likelihood of something happening would be that we would find they are far more advanced than us humans.

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Boss_Hogg    0

its just so crazy to think about.

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vincent    154
very true. but the likelihood of something happening would be that we would find they are far more advanced than us humans.

586066437[/snapback]

How so? :huh:

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j.nudd    0
The worst thing though, is that even if we do find a planet that is exactly like earth, there is a decent chance that if we ever got there we would find that civilization has come and gone and it is now a barren planet.

586066431[/snapback]

A planet exactly the same as earth somewhere else in the galaxy/universe has just as little chance to have life as any other planet, unless by exactly the same, you mean that it is exactly the same distance away from a star the exact same mass, density and other important characteristics essential to life. We have no idea though, perhaps life lightyears away doesn't require the same things we do. :rofl:

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david    51

Prophet Yahweh will summon UFO's to take us out there

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j.nudd    0

Somehow i doubt the possibility of that...

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vincent    154
A planet exactly the same as earth somewhere else in the galaxy/universe has just as little chance to have life as any other planet, unless by exactly the same, you mean that it is exactly the same distance away from a star the exact same mass, density and other important characteristics essential to life. We have no idea though, perhaps life lightyears away doesn't require the same things we do. :rofl:

586070310[/snapback]

The density and mass of a star doesn't really matter our star's next stage is gonna be a red giant inwhich it will grow to about 20-40 times it's current size, swallowing up Mercury, Venus Earth, and Mars. It is believed that planets can harbor life if at the right distance from a red giant star as well. But that stage doesn't last forever since it will begin to collapse afterwards and depending on the original density and mass of it original stage, then it will either be a white dwarf, or a black hole.

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j.nudd    0

There are too many variables to be able to accurately predict whether the size of a planet is related to the possiblity of life.

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vincent    154
There are too many variables to be able to accurately predict whether the size of a planet is related to the possiblity of life.

586076299[/snapback]

Of course when it comes to distibution of planet(S) around a star(s) but what i said ^ can be scientifically true

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j.nudd    0

Yeah, I'm not disputing what you said, but at this point in our knowledge, the size or placement of the planet really has no affect on the probability of that planet to harbor life. Your statement kind of backs that up, because you said that the distance from the star changes as the star changes phases.

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Fred Derf    217
The worst thing though, is that even if we do find a planet that is exactly like earth, there is a decent chance that if we ever got there we would find that civilization has come and gone and it is now a barren planet.

586066431[/snapback]

A planet exactly the same as earth somewhere else in the galaxy/universe has just as little chance to have life as any other planet, unless by exactly the same, you mean that it is exactly the same distance away from a star the exact same mass, density and other important characteristics essential to life. We have no idea though, perhaps life lightyears away doesn't require the same things we do. :rofl:

586070310[/snapback]

Even if we find a rock with the EXACT same conditions as earth (distance from a similar-sized sun, same mass, gravity and everything else) then there still is little chance of finding an active civilization based on the fact that sentient life on this planet has existed for a blink of an eye compared to the overall age of this planet.

Besides, what we are really talking about here is finding other Class M planets.

p.s. Is that exclusively a Star Trek term or did they use an actual scientific term?

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vincent    154
Yeah, I'm not disputing what you said, but at this point in our knowledge, the size or placement of the planet really has no affect on the probability of that planet to harbor life. Your statement kind of backs that up, because you said that the distance from the star changes as the star changes phases.

586078348[/snapback]

But it only goes so big, then it retracts as it collapses on itself, see what i'm getting at? Our sun isn't gonna swallow up Jupiter it's only gonna go as far as the the orbit between MArs and Jupiter then it will get smaller and collapse

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Argote    73

This is very interesting... there are thousands if not millions of planets more in our galaxy and hundreds of millions in the universe that have not yet been discovered

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Boffa Jones    0

Thread Moved

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ev0|    2

Class M planets is a star trek only term IMO.

This Super Earth is significant because it's a rocky planet, but it's way unlikely to be an "earth" more of a "hell" if you ask me with super hot temps and weird radiations.

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Argote    73

^yes... for a planet of that size to wobble a star it must be pretty damn close

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Fred Derf    217
Class M planets is a star trek only term IMO.

This Super Earth is significant because it's a rocky planet, but it's way unlikely to be an "earth" more of a "hell" if you ask me with super hot temps and weird radiations.

586215851[/snapback]

Sometimes Star Trek steals real ideas from science to use with the show and other times they just make stuff up.

Some of their made up stuff ends up becoming real as part of a self-fulfilling prophency (the shows inspires scientists who then invent something similar).

Has anyone noticed how similar flash memory cards are to the plastic cards used in the original series?

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