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April 6, 2008 6:39 PM   Subscribe

Many planets have been found circling other stars, but the prevailing search techniques turn up results encouraging but bizarre. (encouraging, previously) Gravitational micro-lensing has made it possible to OGLE a solar system much like our own.... You're not alone.
posted by Kronos_to_Earth (9 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
The innermost planet is believed to be about the size of Neptune and whips around the star in less than three days at a distance from the star of approximately 5.6 million kilometers (3.5 million miles). The second planet is a little smaller than Jupiter and completes one orbit every 14.7 days at a distance from the star of approximately 18 million kilometers (11.2 million miles).

Wow!

Living on the moon of a gas giant would be interesting. I wonder what kind of folk/religious beliefs would emerge.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:59 PM on April 6, 2008


It never fails to depress me when scientists discover something exciting about extrasolar systems. I read about it, get interested, and then, suddenly, I remember the distances involved. The mind, it boggles.
posted by Zero Gravitas at 7:18 PM on April 6, 2008


Half the size, eh?

Perhaps they'll find some hobbitable planets there.
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posted by Herodios at 7:22 PM on April 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


...then, suddenly, I remember the distances involved.

Wormholes. LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU STEPHEN HAWKING
posted by DU at 7:25 PM on April 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm with Zero Gravitas.

Every time something like this comes along I'm all "ooh, neat!" and I am filled with this feeling of immense amazement lasting for a minute or two - then I think "wait, I can't even begin to understand why I will never understand how fucking far all this is" and then "all this stuff, all this space, why is it even there" usually quickly followed by "hey gnfti, you're going to die, you know" and then I tend to veer up from my seat with a sudden and urgent mission to pet my cat.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:39 PM on April 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Man, it really seems like there have been a lot of advancement in planet detection since, well, since I was a kid in the 1980s. Back then I remember people talking about how planets could be detected, but I don't remember anyone actually knowing of any other then maybe one or two. Now it seems like they've found a lot.

Exciting times, I guess.
posted by delmoi at 7:59 PM on April 6, 2008


Man, it really seems like there have been a lot of advancement in planet detection since, well, since I was a kid in the 1980s.

It's all been pretty recent--the first exoplanet was discovered in 1995 by a European team, and since then there have a number of groups searching the sky with a variety of methods. Gravitational microlensing is a bit of a mixed blessing; it can find planets down to Earth sizes, which is out of reach for the transit and radial-velocity techniques that have found most of the big gas giants, but since the method relies on precise alignment of the exoplanetary system with a background star, observations aren't repeatable.

The full paper is here, or here in PDF; you might find it interesting is that the collaboration relies on observations from smaller (< 1m) telescopes to get their light curve.
posted by Upton O'Good at 8:27 PM on April 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love any news that increases the potential value of the Drake equation.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:15 AM on April 7, 2008


Well, sooner or later we'll spot a rock that looks habitable. I reckon that'll happen within a decade, possibly a lot less. The problem is, as everyone knows, the sheer distance from here to "there." Science fiction aside, no one's about to pony up the cash to send a generation ship, and there isn't any other way to tackle the challenge given current technology.

But let's not rule out breakthroughs. I can't see what that might be, but hey -- that's why they call them breakthroughs.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 5:44 AM on April 7, 2008


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