A couple of math geeks recently calculated that the discovery of the first "habitable" exoplanet would be announced in May of next year -- but a few stargazers from UC Santa Cruz and their colleagues simply couldn't wait that long. In a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, the astronomers report the discovery of what may be the first truly habitable earth-like exoplanet orbiting the nearby red dwarf star Gliese 581.
Discovered via the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, the researchers claim their candidate planet is about three times the mass of Earth and orbiting smack in the middle of the "habitable zone," or at the right distance for liquid water to be present on the surface (that is, not too hot and not too cold). Its mass also suggests it is a rocky planet with a solid surface and enough gravity to maintain an atmosphere.
The planet is tidally locked into orbit around the Gliese 581, which means the same side always faces the star, keeping one side in perpetual daylight and the other in darkness. If indeed Gliese 581g, as the planet is known, is habitable for humans, it would probably best sustain life right along the border between darkness and light.
The discovery, of course, leaves plenty of questions to be answered about Gliese 581g. First of all, "habitable zones" are a bit of a grey area in exoplanet astronomy, and some scientists think there are too many variables at play to even consider a certain distance or range of distance "habitable." Further, the findings are very preliminary and a lot more observation will be necessary before astronomers really know what they are looking at.
But the fact that researchers have found another similarly-sized, potentially similarly-surfaced planet so close to Earth – Gliese 581 is only 20 light years away – in both composition and distance would suggest that such planets aren't rare in the galaxy. That raises hopes that as the exoplanet search extends outward that we'll find even more potentially life-harboring rocks out there.
Next Step: Develop a telescope powerful and sensitive enough to view the planet directly and SPY on the surface.
Alright, now we just need to find a way to travel at light speed. Send some kids on a trip and let them be schooled along the way. They get there at the nice age of about 25 and boom new habitation.
When going at the speed of light time slows down for the riders, so the people going there near the speed of light it will that them only a few months. however from our perspective(earth) it will still take them 20 years.
Anyone else think they were born 100 years to early? Assuming we haven't destroyed ourselves by 2100 just imagine the technology and knowledge that would be common. A knowledge you can't even phantom.
Remember, if they were traveling near light speed, time would slow and the kids wouldn't age that much.
antic, that notion that people do not age is correct if we travel at the speed of light, which is impossible. HOWEVER we can travel long distances using wormholes so thats still a possibility. so if the people at CERN can get going we can really see if this planet is worth it cause mars sure as hell isnt
Wonder how long before Glen Beck starts using this foreign threat as a scare tactic to sell more gold.
@Slushie, antic is correct, the closer you get to the speed of light the slower time mover in relative to the outside world. Remember Einsteins theory of relativity?
For an example I got from Through the universe with Stephen hawking, If man was to build a ship and this ship was to travel very very close to the speed of light for 100 years, the passengers of the ship would only age about a week or so.
Worm holes are very unreliable, due to there very small size and what not will not be around for a very long time if ever.
@Thunderf00t - You mean like the knowledge of how to spell "fathom"?
The next few years should be pretty exciting for this type of research though...
Umm, helloooo? Cryosleep? Why does everyone immediately jump to the idea that "we must travel at the speed of light to get anywhere in the universe"? Hibernate in a cryochamber for 20 years, then wake up after you've reached your destination, and SHAZAM - you're on a new planet and haven't aged a minute. We should invest much more time and energy into safely freezing people for long-distance travels. Lightspeed travel is a joke. Learning how to manipulate worm holes and such would take us 10,000 years, if it's even possible to do so. I think that if we learned more about quantum entanglement and brought an entangled pair along on the mission, then you have instant communication with Earth, 20 light years away. :)
@Bushmaster, the thing is that the trip will only take 20 years if the ship moves at the speed light.
Any slower and it'll probably take as long for the ship to get there as it does to research wormholes.
We need all the help we can get here...
Everyone immidiately thinks of distance in terms of light speed. This is good to establish a minimum time, but that doesn't mean that we must go that speed to get there in a reasonable timeframe.
The best method we know of would be to revive Project Orion, where we could get up to a city-sized dome into space and then propel it to the planet. With fission bombs, using a copper coated blast shield that is sprayed between explosions to avoid abrasion, we could achieve about 10% the speed of light, which is still descent. A 200 year trip isn't that bad for how monumental that is.
As a side note, Fusion bombs could increase that to 20 or 30% if I remember correctly, and anti-matter bombs (distant future) could propel up to 50 to 80% the speed of light, making the trip in as little as 25 years to traverse the distance. Short of Warp Drive, thats the upper limit of getting people to another planet.
In short, no, we can't move at light speed, but we can get 20 lightyears awa within a century or two, which is a good start, and even less as technology progresses.
@brian144 Our technology is no were near able to do something like that. Light sails are our best bet with our current level of technology.
MuNcHiEs1122 Please please please send a probe sometime soon so we can see the surface of the planet. I want to see this before I die!!!!
My father tells me that when he was young people used to fantasize that one day it would be possible to send messages to anyone, anywhere, almost instantly!
The mechanism they proposed to accomplish this was a system of programmable 'smart' rockets. You would sit at your desk write a letter and put it in a little rocket. Program in the recipient's address, and off it would go, buzzing through the air and ending up at its destination faster than anyone ever thought possible!
Well, they were close! That is, we can now send messages to anyone, anywhere, and a hell of a lot faster (not to mention safer!) then their proposed rocket technology.
Could you imagine living in such a world, constantly dodging mail traffic? Not to mention the greenhouse gas emissions from all that rocket fuel . . . .
They can't be blamed though. It was the cold war after all, and between nuclear arms and visiting the moon rockets were the most advanced technology they could imagine.
And now here we are, theorizing about sending people to habitable exoplanets via cryochambers, wormholes and anti-matter propelled city rockets.
I'm not saying we're completely wrong, but I'm sure hoping we are!
With any luck I'll be spending my retirement vacationing on Gliese 581g, soaking up some red rays, laughing to my grandkids about the ridiculous ways we primitive folks thought we'd use to get there!
Just get the Technocore to build us a farcaster already.
Keeping in mind that this planet could already be inhabited.
In that case, it is imperative that we send missionaries over, to guide their lost souls to the true path of Christ!
I understand that the Nostromo is there answering a distress call right now ...
if we ever get there though, there would be a large amount of power that could be generated by the difference in heat between the dark and light side
Isn't this planet tidal locked? That means no atmosphere and no life. Water on the hot side boiled off and the cold side frozen.
Also isn't space expanding? so you have to factor in that into space travel. Everything is space is moving farther apart at an alarming rate. We are so far from these far off objects that we don't notice.
I want to have a closer look at this planet too. The prospect of going to Mars doesn't impress me anymore - let's go all the way!!
We just need a few things:
- quantum entangled photons for communications (NASA's Advanced Concepts wrote a paper about it)
- the probe(s) to explore there (or people if you want)
And the Burkhard Heim 'hyperdrive'
- if we used this as transport, we could get there in about 5 months (but I would recommend cryosleep for the journey anyway)
@boka, as I understand it the space between galaxies is expanding due to dark energy perhaps. This newly discovered planet is in our own galaxy, which is held together by gravitational force and remains relatively the same distance away.
The real issue with colonization on a planet of this size is the fact that earth life is accustomed to earth gravity. We are so accustomed to our own gravity, that astronauts in microgravity can suffer bone loss, muscle loss, circulation problems, and face a constant threat of embolism.
3 times earth gravity would be massively detrimental to human life. Someone who weighed 120 pounds on earth would weigh 360 pounds on this planet. This has a massive effect on the life processes of an organism. Everything from breathing to circulation would be hindered, movement would be difficult, and the stresses on the heart would be massive.
This discovery is huge from a scientific standpoint, but from a human colonization standpoint, this is just a little too far beyond the threshold of survivability for carbon-based life.
The fact that this planet is tidally locked with its star is also problematic for life. Life as we know it was stabilized by our sattelite, and tides made life possible here on earth. This planet of course, could have been around for a much longer time, due to its star being a longer-burning red dwarf.
However, red dwarves are not friendly to life compared to our yellow star. Our star pumps out massive radiation and charged particles that are only fended off by our magnetic field.
A red dwarf planet must be closer to its star, and as such, its magnetic field is going to be assaulted by the star's own field much more often, and this will cause contant bombardment by solar storms to be much more disruptive to life on the planet.
Water-based organisms, however, would still be possible, but it is unlikely that water-based organisms can develop comparative human intelligence and leave their planet. At this stage in the game, though, even viruses and other "non-life" would be a game changer.
The other problem is travel through space. Light speed requires infinite energy to acheive, and we do not have an effective generator for anything even close to light speed. Over a number of years, a fusion reactor and an ion drive would get into percentages of the speed of light, and would be our best bet for interstellar travel, and solar sails would only acheive stellar speeds, and not interstellar speeds before the energy of the sun's rays would peter out.
The accelleration would take so long with either, that any astronauts sent out on this journey would have their bones, muscles, and circulatory systems completely destroyed by the constant microgravity. In other words, we need artificial gravity, otherwise our interstellar astronauts would die of embolism in deep space before interstellar speeds could be acheived.
Wormholes would be a nice option if we could generate enough exotic matter to stabilize one, but the fact of the matter is, exotic matter is exceedingly rare, and tachyons have still yet to be proven outside of theory.
Antimatter as a fuel source is also completely possible, the problem is that antimatter requires massive ammounts of energy to sequester and store. If antimatter touches matter, it creates a thermonuclear explosion, therefore, we have to use constant high energy fields to sequester this exotic matter, and as such, it is massively expensive, energy-wise.
Then there's space-warping technology, like the alqubierre drive, which literally creates a gravity wave in space, and then rides it. The object itself doesn't move, and therefore can move at speeds faster than the speed of light, due to the fact that the object is stationary, and space itself is not bound by the laws of relativity.
There is one problem with the alqubierre drive, though. It is theorized that it would take infinite density to produce a wave of gravity, and as such, tidal forces would tear apart any object near the bubble. Infinite mass, also, cannot be undone, and therefore, there is no way to stop the alqubierre drive once it gets moving. It is also thought to be impossible to send a signal through the gravity wave, as an infinitely dense wave would warp local space so much that any object reaching the center of the wave would take infinite time. Once it's on, it's on. This is where tachyons come in. They travel faster than the speed of light. They can actually not slow down below the speed of light. They are bound by the opposite rules of matter because they have negative mass... But of course, like I said, there's no proof of them in the first place.
So, solve some of these problems, and it's a go, just... Not for this planet.
This is bs seriously. You know how many stars and planets and shit like that they bring up every year saying something's living on it? these people researching stars and planets are all retards in my opinion -.- stop with the damn opinions and find facts. "There's a 3% chance of life on this star". Stfu and find life 100% stop getting peoples hopes up.
@ InvaderZim: Oh! The Humanity! Those savages have not found the Saviour!
@ Xill: There seems to me to be shenanigans in your comment
@ lokimotion: Why the pessimism? You say yourself to stop with the opinions, so don't call 'these people' retards by calling their research bullshit. Oh, out of curiosity, how many stars and planets and 'shit like that' do they bring up saying something's living on it?
All these scientists looking for earth-like worlds so they can seek out intelligent life do not realize that you have to have a species that can manipulate tools, understand how to make fire, and after that, understand how to manipulate steam to generate locomotion and electricity. To do that on a massive scale they will first need fossil fuels. That means that no alien life form could advance to or beyond our technological state without the alien planet having been inhabited for billions of years prior to that intelligent alien species’ existence.
A lot of hooey here - what you want do do is accelerate your spacecraft at one G to about half way to the destination and the decelerate at one G until arrival to maintain normal gravity. Now do the math..........
A new planet? Too bad it orbits a red dwarf and is tide locked. Nevertheless if we can find one we can find more. Now might be a good time to start thinking about a multigenerational ship with an Ion drive powered by thorium perhaps? An ion drive would be ideal for a long voyage but instead of using the thorium as the fuel use the thorium reactor to excite another material into releasing Ions the length of the trip determines the speed. Ion drives are much like a sail boat the longer the wind blows and the more sail you clew up the faster you go...to a point. I say good luck to all who are willing to attempt it. I could wish that I was born 100 years from now but such foolish notions are a waste of thought. Better that those of us alive now begin to prepare the way so our progeny can benefit from our mistakes...preferably before we exhaust this planets ability to sustain life.
the only way to travel at light speed is to convert a human being into photons or something close to it, with the capability to re-assemble upon reaching the destination