Milestone in the search for life beyond our planet

Let's hope they can help us fix our economy.

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It's a little misleading how they depict the planet as bluish in color with white clouds like earth, since they have no idea what it actually looks like. 

Oh George! you're such a cynic.


The gotcha is its 600 AUs away. Bit too far to pop over and borrow a cup of sugar.

True. I don't think we have ever actually visually seen a planet in another solar system. My understanding is we just detect that the planet is there because of its gravitation effects, is that correct?

That's how they do it, yes.  They use the wobble of the star to calculate an estimate of the mass and distance of planets orbiting it.

Actually the Kepler telescope uses the transit method of detecting planets.  It watches for slight dimming of stars as a planet passes in front of it.  

The wobble method hasn't been performed  yet.

Oh.  Well, I've read some stuff about the development of the wobble method.  Blurred the two methods together, I guess.

Phil Plait blogged about this.

The problem is we don’t know the planet’s mass. Kepler’s transit technique doesn’t find that; it has to be determined using very tricky observations of the planet’s gravity as it tugs o.... Since Kepler-22b’s orbit is 290 days long, that makes this kind of observation much harder (the closer in the planet, the harder it pulls on the star, and the bigger the signal… plus you don’t have to wait as long for it to go around once). 

What it looks like isn't really important.  What's important is that this is the first planet outside of our solar system existing in a habitable zone, or the "Goldilocks Zone" as astronomers call it, in history.  At least as far as I know.

I was going to start a discussion on this discovery but you beat me to it! Actually there have been about 50 other possible goldilocks planets discovered so far: 

There is an organization called SETI that is trying to detect life suggesting radio signals from the goldilocks planets.

it'll take generations, but we should move there immediately

Why exactly? :/


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