A Whole New World
July 22, 2015 6:49 PM   Subscribe

NASA will host a news teleconference at noon EDT Thursday, July 23 (livestream) to announce new discoveries made by its planet-hunting mission, the Kepler Space Telescope.

"The first exoplanet orbiting another star like our sun was discovered in 1995. Exoplanets, especially small Earth-size worlds, belonged within the realm of science fiction just 21 years ago. Today, and thousands of discoveries later, astronomers are on the cusp of finding something people have dreamed about for thousands of years -- another Earth."
posted by jayCampbell (82 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm so tickled that I got to use this slide in my class today ("The Search for Life in the Universe"), the day before it is probably rendered obsolete...
posted by RedOrGreen at 6:59 PM on July 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


Nup. Nope. Not this time.

Media: EXO PLANETS KEPLER MISSION ALIEN WORLDS NEW EARTH PRESS CONFERENCE

NASA: 'We've discovered a way to improve our algorithm for measuring cloud density for a limited subset of historical Kepler exoplanet data by 0.2 per cent.'
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:03 PM on July 22, 2015 [58 favorites]


Yay science!
posted by Fizz at 7:19 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Kepler has been amazing, but we just don't have the tools yet to do much more than make educated, statistical guesses about exoplanet details. This announcement is almost certainly going to be about a new, best candidate (in terms of being in the goldilocks zone and more-or-less right-sized and being in orbit around a clement star), and bound to be a disappointment for people who are expecting much more than that.

The good news is we're going to have much better telescopes for exoplanet-hunting in just a couple of years.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:31 PM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


That said, yay science!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:31 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


way to oversell it, NASA
posted by indubitable at 7:45 PM on July 22, 2015


"Another Earth" had better mean "Look at this photograph of continents and oceans and what we think are electric lights."
posted by Rangi at 7:56 PM on July 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


way to oversell it, NASA

Yes, but...it beats "We will be greeted as liberators," or whatever Rummy said.

Throw a few dollars at this, and oversell it a little.

"Another Earth" had better mean "Look at this photograph of continents and oceans and what we think are electric lights."

If we make contact, let's hope it's not with a species that's fucked things up this badly. Let's hope they're Tralfalmadorians.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:08 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't know much about how NASA communicates with the rest of the nation - anyone have a line on, for example, how often they hold these sort of teleconference announcements, what previous events have merited them, etc.? Is this something they rarely do, and only for spectacular accomplishments, or just a sort of PR update of "this is what your tax dollars are spent on, neat huh?"
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:26 PM on July 22, 2015


The Good News: They found an earth-like planet.
The Bad News: it will be colliding with the earth in 3 days.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:36 PM on July 22, 2015 [14 favorites]


The Good News: They found an earth-like planet.
The Bad News: It has Donald Trump-like lifeforms.
posted by storybored at 9:01 PM on July 22, 2015 [13 favorites]


The Good News: They found an earth-like planet
The Bad News: Starbucks has already opened a franchise there
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:17 PM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Kepler 186-f was about 16 months ago, so if the lede here is actually a newly identified potential earthlike, it's going to be at least as likely-looking as that one, I'd imagine. Also

The Good News: They found an earth-like planet
The Bad News: Everybody there has goatees
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:48 PM on July 22, 2015 [13 favorites]


I feel like the Starbucks option is the least-terrible of the three given so far.

On the other hand, each option has gotten proceedingly less-terrible than the one before it.

So I guess I'll hold out!

On preview: See, even the goatees are okay.
posted by curious nu at 9:54 PM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Another Earth" had better mean "Look at this photograph of continents and oceans and what we think are electric lights."
We'll almost certainly never get there: the sheer physical size of the light bucket required to gain that kind of resolution against the contrast (think of trying to spot the glow of a firefly caught in a lighthouse beam, from dozens of kilometers away) strains credulity, even with several more centuries of technological advancement.

However, we are achingly close to being able to carry out detailed spectrographic analysis of exoplanet atmospheres. If we discovered free oxygen, that's a slum dunk for the existence of extraterrestrial life; if we found chemicals that can only be generated by industrial processes (say, vinyl chloride mononomers), that's a technological civilization, even if we can never see alien smokestacks.

I find it deeply ironic that, given the perilous nature of our own ecosystem, the answer to the biggest question of all time might be found in the pollution of another world.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 10:40 PM on July 22, 2015 [22 favorites]


the ship we launched in 1973 should almost be there by now.
posted by TMezz at 11:48 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Good News: They found an earth-like planet
The Bad News: It turns out it was Earth the whole time.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:35 AM on July 23, 2015 [17 favorites]


You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:55 AM on July 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Turns out they watch "Friends," too.
posted by rhizome at 1:32 AM on July 23, 2015


The Good News: Earth has been "liked" by another planet on SpaceBook!
The Bad News: Our SpaceBook account has been hacked.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:51 AM on July 23, 2015 [10 favorites]


I have no inside information whatsoever, but it is interesting that Didier Queloz is going to be at the press conference, too. Didier is best known for work measuring radial velocities (i.e., the reflex motion of stars as they are tugged by an orbiting planet), so you might guess that any announcement today will include some discussion of spectroscopic follow-up on interesting targets. (I.e., they might be talking about spectroscopic confirmation of some planet candidates from a previous release. Or, who knows, could be something else entirely.)
posted by chalkbored at 4:29 AM on July 23, 2015


"Another Earth" had better mean "Look at this photograph

Every time I do it makes me laugh.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:29 AM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


You cannot take away my teenage dreams, fuelled by a thousand SF stories, of a thousand worlds around a thousand suns, verdant or oceanic or desert or ice, with unfathomable creatures living unfathomable lives, and the lone Earthman slowly spinning in mind and body into the transformational strangeness.

That's all I ask, Nasa. Don't let me down. I'm getting old.
posted by Devonian at 5:54 AM on July 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


The Bad News: It has Donald Trump-like lifeforms.

"Scientists at NASA revealed today the discovery of a new lifeform, the Trumple. Believed to be a symbiont, the Trumple's sentience appears to be located in a small mass of fur which resides on top of, and presumably operates, a larger nonsentient body, itself devoted solely to the purposes of locomotion and the exhalation of hot gases."
posted by octobersurprise at 6:37 AM on July 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


They're announcing the discovery of Planet Bob.
posted by Atreides at 6:39 AM on July 23, 2015


Bora Horza Gobuchul: "if we found chemicals that can only be generated by industrial processes (say, vinyl chloride mononomers), that's a technological civilization, even if we can never see alien smokestacks."

Honest question: let's say that happens within the next 5-10 years. Is sending a probe there, or even transmitting some sort of communication a realistic goal, given the difficulties sending/communicating with New Horizons?
posted by Rock Steady at 7:30 AM on July 23, 2015


The Good News: They found an earth-like planet
The Bad News: No WiFi
posted by davebush at 7:47 AM on July 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Is sending a probe there, or even transmitting some sort of communication a realistic goal, given the difficulties sending/communicating with New Horizons?

Well, what kind of distances are we talking about here?

If the star was 20 light years away, and we could build a probe and accelerate it to 0.1c (1/10 the speed of light), it's a 200 year trip there, one way. And don't expect to stop at the end. If you want to build in the ability to stop, probably the way to do that would be to accelerate for half the trip, turn around, and brake for the other half - at which point the trip takes twice as long. So 400 years one way if you want to park at the other planet. And don't forget the 20 year lag for any communication back from the probe! Doing this is frankly beyond our current capabilities.

A radio signal, though - "Hello, we see you! Here's the content of our Wikipedia; send yours back to us too..." - we can do that easily enough. And with enough power that they could receive it easily if they had our technology and IF they were listening. That's 20 years there, another 20 years for their Wikipedia to come back to us, and we live happily ever after (with much better alien sitcoms) I guess?
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:00 AM on July 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


The only place we could reasonably send a probe would be Alpha Centauri, and we won't even be able to take a look at that system for a few years.

Sending a signal would probably involve an insanely bright laser at a unique frequency and the hope that they're monitoring the spectroscopy of every star in the sky on a regular basis.
posted by WCWedin at 8:07 AM on July 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Good News: They found an earth-like planet.
The Bad News: Said planet's residents have known about earthlings for millennia, but having found no signs of intelligent life on Earth, have been hoping to avoid discovery by their neighbors down the street. Now they have to act all hospitable and send holiday cards to Earth every year, and offer to let earthlings use their vacation planet for a week each summer, and friend the stupid earthlings on Facebook even though all they ever post about is cats and their stupid political bullshit. And, yes, they have fossil fuels there too, so of course the earthlings are going to be coming over every few decades to ask if they can "borrow" a cargo ship full of oil, even though they never return the ship, never mind the goddamn oil. Who the fuck does that? And then to top it all off, they send text messages in the middle of the night, not even bothering to consider the time difference, asking dumb human questions like "hey, how did you guys figure out the whole world peace thing?" I mean, earthlings, am I right?
posted by tonycpsu at 8:12 AM on July 23, 2015 [13 favorites]


The Good News: They have located several Earth-like planets nearby
The Bad News: Earth isn't one of them any more
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:17 AM on July 23, 2015


The Good News: They found an earth-like planet
The Bad News: They're made out of meat.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:25 AM on July 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Good News: They found an earth-like planet
The Bad News: They found an earth-like planet
posted by sexyrobot at 8:41 AM on July 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


For those interested in interstellar travel, the second Starship Congress with attendant Interstellar Hackathon is taking place in Philadephia in September. This is part of Project Icarus, which is an ongoing exploration of how, exactly, we might do this thing. Icarus is a descendent of Project Daedalus, which the British interplanetary Society ran last century - that proposed a fusion-powered spacecraft capable of delivering a 450-ton payload to a star within a fifty year mission.

It's all speculative stuff, but it's serious work by credible people.
posted by Devonian at 8:43 AM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


What if we're the other Earth?
posted by rocket88 at 8:44 AM on July 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


I tried to turn on the livestream in order to wait for the announcement. Why does NASA have to have such terrible hold music on there? Is this a very halfhearted attempt at a government cover-up? They'll tell us about the aliens, but hope we won't listen because of the terrible hold music?
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 8:52 AM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is all just leading up to a RickRoll, isn't it?
posted by Optamystic at 8:54 AM on July 23, 2015


This is the last minute I can pretend they're just going hand the mic to the SETI guy with a look of fear in their eyes.
posted by jayCampbell at 8:58 AM on July 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


...and now the stream's gone dead. Cue WarOfTheWorlds.mp3
posted by Optamystic at 9:01 AM on July 23, 2015


Hopefully they've found a planet with better streaming capacity.
posted by klue at 9:02 AM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why does NASA have to have such terrible hold music on there?

I'm guessing that was an alien radio broadcast they recorded. I'm no exomusic expert, but I'd say the aliens are SMOOTH and perhaps slightly FUNKY.
posted by sfenders at 9:03 AM on July 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Here's that press kit link. Spoilers!
posted by theodolite at 9:04 AM on July 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


From the press kit link: pretty exciting stuff. Not a 100% perfect fit for a few reasons, but very close.
posted by jedicus at 9:10 AM on July 23, 2015


Nice. Kepler 452b - 385 day orbit, 60% larger than earth so you'd weigh twice as much, right in the habitable zone of a G2 star just like our Sun, but 6 billion years old.
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:17 AM on July 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Good News: Earth has been "liked" by another planet on SpaceBook!
The Bad News: Our SpaceBook account has been hacked.


The Really Bad News: We're On SpaceGooglePlus.
posted by yoink at 9:19 AM on July 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


The stream seems to have cut off. Is it down for everyone, or just me?

Edit: Back up.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 9:21 AM on July 23, 2015


Down here too. Took the aliens a little while to find and EMP the server...

ETA - it's back...
posted by Devonian at 9:23 AM on July 23, 2015


It's back up!
posted by theodolite at 9:23 AM on July 23, 2015


I was just joking that some day a NASA announcement will be cut off midstream and the President will be shouting "Get the CEOs of CNN, NBC and FOX in my office in 45 minutes." Edit: yeah, back up.
posted by jayCampbell at 9:23 AM on July 23, 2015


The Good News: They found an earth-like planet.
The Bad News: It's Earth.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:24 AM on July 23, 2015


The good news: They found Another Earth.
The even better news: They returned the DVD to the library before they got fined.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 9:27 AM on July 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


My log so far: Most of the stars in the sky have planets around them. Hinting at finding water on an exoplanet. New "closest twin to Earth" announced, Kepler-452b. 385 day year around a G2-class (Sun-like) star, 2x Earth gravity, similar energy received from its sun, probable thick atmosphere, volcanoes. It has been in the habitable "Goldilocks" zone for 6 billion years (longer than we've been a planet), giving life an awfully long time to spring up. We already have a lot more data on other exoplanets to analyze so this will just keep getting better.
posted by jayCampbell at 9:36 AM on July 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wait wait - I SEE IT ON RT GUYZ!

A massive alien spacecraft, around the size of the US state of Idaho, has been spotted near the sun by ufologists in recent NASA pictures.

LOLZ ufologists trying to piggyback on NASA.
posted by symbioid at 9:37 AM on July 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately it's also 1400 light years away, a fact they seem to be downplaying a little, so barring a revolution in physics we're probably not going to ever go there
posted by theodolite at 9:39 AM on July 23, 2015


Some of the data is pretty sloppy - system age is 6by, +/- 2by, and it's 50:50 whether it's solid or not (if not, then no bashing the rocks together, guys) - so early days. Looking forward to the later telescopes with some eagerness...

But still, here we are looking at Earth-like candidate planets numbering in the double digits,. Heady stuff.
posted by Devonian at 9:40 AM on July 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thanks, jayCampbell :)
posted by symbioid at 9:40 AM on July 23, 2015


Unfortunately it's also 1400 light years away, a fact they seem to be downplaying a little, so barring a revolution in physics we're probably not going to ever go there

To the extent this is true, this is also true of pretty much every other planet.
posted by benbenson at 9:42 AM on July 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


I can't believe the blase over this.
posted by agregoli at 9:51 AM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can't believe it? It's the equivalent of telling someone in dynastic Egypt that there's a land pretty like Egypt on the other side of the planet. There's no way in hell we're going to get there in less than a few hundred years.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:56 AM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't have to visit Egypt to enjoy their cotton. Maybe aliens make great YouTube tutorials.
posted by jayCampbell at 9:59 AM on July 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


It feels like 6 billion years that I've been waiting for the James Webb Space Telescope.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 10:03 AM on July 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Life on earth began less than 1 billion years after the crust cooled.
posted by jayCampbell at 10:11 AM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Centauri Dreams: Earth 2.0: Still Looking
We’ll get more habitable zone planets out of the Kepler data, according to Jeff Coughlin (SETI Institute), because we’re getting much better in our planet extraction techniques, but Coughlin noted at the news conference that for every planet we’ve detected, there are at least fifty we cannot see because they are not oriented so as to make transits possible.
posted by audi alteram partem at 10:17 AM on July 23, 2015


I can't believe the blase over this.

Well, yes, that's kinda' amazing.

20 years ago, we only had some planets around a pulsar; 51 Peg b was announced in October 1995.

Now we have multiple planets in habitable zones of other stars, rocky planets with liquid water on their surface, rocky planets around sun-like stars, giant planets with in the habitable zones of sun-like stars (so, think habitable moons like Endor, I guess). And today, a rocky planet in the habitable zone of a sun-like star.

We've come a long way. But we've had 20 years to get used to the idea, so today ... yeah, pretty neat stuff, it'll make the papers tomorrow, but that's about it I guess. Won't change people's lives (for now). So I get why some people are blasé about it.

Me, I'm excited. Between Russian billionaires willing to spend money on SETI (see that other thread) and habitable earth-like planets around sun-like stars, it's a true golden age for exploration.
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:17 AM on July 23, 2015


RedOrGreen: "Kepler 452b - 385 day orbit, 60% larger than earth so you'd weigh twice as much"

I CAN DO THAT WITH COOKIES, NASA, I DON'T NEED AN EXOPLANET.

The Good News: We found an earth-like planet.
The Bad News: They appear to have destroyed all life with a global nuclear war some six hours before we detected them. Oh well.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:32 AM on July 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Fermi paradox suggests that the more habitable planets we find, the more likely something like that's true.
posted by jayCampbell at 10:40 AM on July 23, 2015


so barring a revolution in physics we're probably not going to ever go there

quantuum mechanics, relativity, the atomic bomb/nuclear power/nuclear medicine, the transistor/digital computers/microelectronics/MEMS, powered flight/jet propulsion, rockets/satellite technology, radio/television/cellular telecommunication, etc etc...and that was just the 20th century.

Revolution in physics? Physics does nothing but revolve.

I mean, I'm not plunking down cash for a ticket just yet, but I am socking the pennies away in the savings account.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:25 AM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


We'll almost certainly never get there: the sheer physical size of the light bucket required to gain that kind of resolution against the contrast (think of trying to spot the glow of a firefly caught in a lighthouse beam, from dozens of kilometers away) strains credulity, even with several more centuries of technological advancement.

Are you sure about this? Even just with current technology I'd think it would be possible to have an array telescope larger than the Earth itself at a Lagrange point somewhere. If we sent off a bunch of space probes containing telescope elements at slightly different angles, maybe we could have one larger than the solar system.

Just based on casual googling we appear to be able to image the surfaces of supergiant stars with terrestrial telescopes - see page 7 here.
posted by XMLicious at 11:58 AM on July 23, 2015


If we find out that they are projecting beautiful music our way, let's just proceed with a bit of caution, okay?
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:23 PM on July 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Good News: They found earth like planet.
The Bad News: They found planet doesn't like earth, at least not in that way. It just wants to be friends.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 12:31 PM on July 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Good News: They found an Earth-like planet.
The Bad News: It's called Mars. There are robots already there. Few people really care.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:43 PM on July 23, 2015


Revolution in physics? Physics does nothing but revolve.

On the other hand, the universe has no obligation to conform to our daydreams.

We've observed no natural phenomena transmitting information faster than light. There's noting in the physics we know of that requires such a thing. So, I wouldn't get your hopes up. Maybe eventually, assuming we survive thenext couple centuries, we'll develop spacecraft that can g a fair percentage of the speed of light. But even then, we're looking at trips of thousands of years to see that planet.
posted by happyroach at 1:19 PM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe eventually, assuming we survive thenext couple centuries, we'll develop spacecraft that can g(o) a fair percentage of the speed of light. But even then, we're looking at trips of thousands of years to see that planet.

Well, thousands of years for you, if you stay here...maybe only a few weeks for me on my spaceship. I probably won't see you when I get back.

/relativity
posted by sexyrobot at 4:19 PM on July 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love you sexyrobot!
posted by roolya_boolya at 4:54 PM on July 23, 2015


The Good News: They found an Earth-like planet.
The Bad News: It's inhabited by robots.
The Good News: The robots are super sexy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:12 PM on July 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Good News: The robots are super sexy.

The bad news: You won't even believe what their orientation involves.
posted by jokeefe at 5:17 PM on July 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


False alarm, it was just a giant mirror 700 light years away.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:24 PM on July 23, 2015


I can't believe the blase over this.

Wait twenty years.

'NASA scientists have published a list of the latest planets confirmed to host advanced extraterrestrial life, as confirmed by the presence of industrial compounds in their atmospheres. As is the case with the 1,411 such worlds previously discovered, we cannot see these civilisations, and cannot communicate with them, nor them with us, and so we remain utterly alone in the black blackness of space. Now, here's Brian with the weather...'
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:30 PM on July 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


"Just based on casual googling we appear to be able to image the surfaces of supergiant stars with terrestrial telescopes - see page 7 here."

I think it's easy to take for granted the scale separating these two goals.

(1) The radius of betelgeuse is about 100,000x greater than your average terrestrial planet.
(2) We can take longer exposures of stars (relatively simple movement, rotates 10-20 more slowly than planets) than we can of planets.
(3) That paper took advantage of low resolution expectations to use an earthbound telescope with a sensor/mirror/lightbucket size about twice that of Hubble's and over five time's that of Kepler's sensor.
(4) The methods used in that (unpublished) paper seem only really applicable to black body radiation, whereas resolving detail on a planet during night would require measuring radiation reflected off a surface with relatively meager and extremely heterogeneous albedo.
(5) The average albedo of earth is 0.3, so even capturing a daylight image increases the amount of light required by an order of magnitude.
(6) Don't forget, Rangi was asking for a photo demonstrating something that looks like artificial light on a planet surface facing away from a star. The relative luminosity of a strong artificial light reflected by urban structures is about 1,000 times less than that of sun-lit scene.
(7) Lastly, that paper's 'image' had a resolution of 10x10. Discriminating a city the size of Houston would require an image of earth with almost 1,000 times better resolution.

So in total, to get Rangi's photo, we're going to need about 10^13 times more photons than we can collect now. I have no idea how to do that, but if we're just going to make a really big sensor it's going to need a surface area ten trillion times larger than the William Herschel Telescope in the Canary Islands. In other words, we need something 10 times larger than the total surface area of earth.

Rangi's post was a joke, of course, and I've been beating it to death.

The angular size of a light source the size of Ireland on a planet as far away as Kepler 452b is on the order of nanoarcseconds, which as far as I can tell is a unit of measurement most often employed by science fiction authors and futurists. If we could resolve the planet Kepler 542b, we could also resolve any main sequence star within a million light years, and interstellar extinction from our solar system alone may preclude any light from a planet reaching us. In sort, if we want snap shots, we're better off making the trip.
posted by midmarch snowman at 6:41 PM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think it's easy to take for granted the scale separating these two goals.

Since I was comparing that to a hypothetical telescope larger than our solar system, I'm not sure I was doing too badly with the scale.

It still seems to me that any hard limitation, even only with current technology, is actually a resource limit rather than a technological one, and hence declaring "never" is a bit presumptuous. When you're declaring "never" even multiple centuries in the future as Bora Horza Gobuchul specified, science fiction must necessarily be invoked to evaluate what you're saying.
posted by XMLicious at 5:02 AM on July 24, 2015




Haha!

I got so carried away with Fermi estimation I forgot what your original comment was. In fact, a sensor somewhere between the size of earth and the size of the solar system is actually a pretty damn good guess on how big it'd have to be to see a planet in another solar-sytem.

That being said, given interstellar extinction, it's very possible as few as zero photons from the surface of a planet 1,000 ly away would hit our telescope. Also, if we were a Kardashev level two society that could harvest that many resources, it'd still probably be easier to make the trip to a planet 1,000 ly away.
posted by midmarch snowman at 9:22 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


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