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Author Topic:   Latest Kepler Data: Lots of Earths
Taq
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Posts: 6634
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 1 of 24 (603090)
02-02-2011 5:39 PM


The Kepler space telescope has now found 68 exoplanet candidates that are Earth sized and 5 of them are in the habitable zone of their parent star. Another 49 planets exist in the habitable zone of their parent star, but are much larger than Earth. However, this doesn't rule out the possibility that moons around these larger planets could have liquid water and environments conducive to life as we know it. NASA press release here:
http://www.nasa.gov/.../kepler/news/kepler_data_release.html

Anyway, what impact do you think this will have with respect to the "Privileged Planet" hypothesis and other arguments based on the Anthropic Principle? Kepler is only able to scan a tiny portion of the stars in our galaxy, so what does this tell us about the population of planets throughout the rest of our galaxy and the distribution of Earth like planets across the entire universe?

Suggested forums: Origin of Life or Cosmology

Edited by Taq, : No reason given.


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Admin
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Message 2 of 24 (603179)
02-03-2011 8:38 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Latest Kepler Data: Lots of Earths thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
Taz
Member (Idle past 734 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 3 of 24 (603182)
02-03-2011 9:12 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Taq
02-02-2011 5:39 PM


I'd like to emphasize the fact that these are only the planets they've been able to find with their very limited ways. It may very well be the case that the cosmos is full of Class M Planets.
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Blue Jay
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Message 4 of 24 (603186)
02-03-2011 9:33 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Taq
02-02-2011 5:39 PM


Hi, Taq.

I still don't know where I stand on this. I feel like there are still too many variables remaining. Surely it confirms the notion that life-bearing planets similar to Earth could be common, but I'm uncomfortable taking it much further than that.

I'm also interested in the size distribution of the planets they've found: about half of the planet candidates found so far seem to be Neptune-sized, with smaller numbers being larger or smaller than that. Does this represent an accurate assessment of size distributions? Or is it still skewed toward larger planets because of methodological constraints?

Also, is the search still restricted to planets very close to their primary? Or have they been able to find planets further out?


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


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Taq
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Posts: 6634
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 5 of 24 (603209)
02-03-2011 11:33 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Blue Jay
02-03-2011 9:33 AM


I still don't know where I stand on this. I feel like there are still too many variables remaining. Surely it confirms the notion that life-bearing planets similar to Earth could be common, but I'm uncomfortable taking it much further than that.

That's as far as I am taking it too. I don't know what the range of the Kepler telescope is, but I can't imagine that it's effective range extends much beyond our little neighborhood of the galaxy. On top of that, in order to measure transits of smaller planets with less eccentric orbits the solar system has to be "on edge" with the telescope (at least from my understanding). They can still detect Neptune sized planets with highly eccentric orbits due to the star wobbling without needing a transit.

I'm also interested in the size distribution of the planets they've found: about half of the planet candidates found so far seem to be Neptune-sized, with smaller numbers being larger or smaller than that. Does this represent an accurate assessment of size distributions? Or is it still skewed toward larger planets because of methodological constraints?

From the press release:

quote:
"The fact that we’ve found so many planet candidates in such a tiny fraction of the sky suggests there are countless planets orbiting stars like our sun in our galaxy," said Borucki. "Kepler can find only a small fraction of the planets around the stars it looks at because the orbits aren’t aligned properly. If you account for those two factors, our results indicate there must be millions of planets orbiting the stars that surround our sun."

I think there are two sources of bias in the methodology. First, planets closer to the parent star have a much better chance of being detected as a transit. Second, larger planets are easier to detect.

So if the planet system under investigation is not lined up perfectly on edge with us we would only see the inner planets transiting the parent star while planets further out would never pass between us and the parent star. On top of that, small planets like Mercury may very well not be detected. However, very small planets have a much lower chance of holding on to their water so they are not as important with respect to finding planets with life.


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RAZD
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Message 6 of 24 (603461)
02-04-2011 2:35 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Blue Jay
02-03-2011 9:33 AM


Hi Bluejay\Dinosaur.

I still don't know where I stand on this. I feel like there are still too many variables remaining. Surely it confirms the notion that life-bearing planets similar to Earth could be common, but I'm uncomfortable taking it much further than that.

I see it as confirmation that the universe has many opportunities for life to arise, not just one special case situation.

I put this together with the fact that pre-biotic molecules are common in space (see [tidm=296041]Building Blocks of Life[/tidm] for some of the evidence) and conclude that the formation and subsequent elevation of life is hardly impossible.

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


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Taz
Member (Idle past 734 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 7 of 24 (603555)
02-05-2011 1:27 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by RAZD
02-04-2011 2:35 PM


I see the potential for the fine tuning argument to finally die out completely.
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dwise1
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Message 8 of 24 (603559)
02-05-2011 1:39 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Taz
02-05-2011 1:27 AM


Unfortunately not until we can get out there and confirm the existence of other life. Which won't be for a few more centuries or so, especially the way NASA is getting funded.
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Taz
Member (Idle past 734 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 9 of 24 (603562)
02-05-2011 2:33 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by dwise1
02-05-2011 1:39 AM


You gotta think of it this way, though. First, they kept making the argument that if the earth was like a mile off its orbit then life as we know it would seize to exist. Then they made the argument that planets are a rare thing and that our solar system might be the only one in the cosmos with planets. And then when they found extrasolar planets, they made the argument that rocky planets in habitable zones are extremely rare such that earth could have only existed because god created it this way.

You see where I'm going with this? They keep moving their goal post. Now that we've found hundreds of planets in habitable zones, I'm just hoping that they could finally shut the hell up.


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dwise1
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Posts: 2794
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Member Rating: 4.7


Message 10 of 24 (603568)
02-05-2011 3:40 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Taz
02-05-2011 2:33 AM


Oh yes, of course. And then when we point out that earth varies its distance from the sun by 3 million miles. And that we're closest to the sun in the dead of winter! (around 02 January), you'd think that would shut them up.

But their secret is that they're not thinking. At all.


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Coragyps
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Posts: 5273
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002


Message 11 of 24 (603572)
02-05-2011 12:17 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Taz
02-05-2011 2:33 AM


God of the gaps philosophy applied to planetary systems....
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NoNukes
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Joined: 08-13-2010
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Message 12 of 24 (603604)
02-05-2011 7:14 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Taq
02-03-2011 11:33 AM


Taq writes:

On top of that, in order to measure transits of smaller planets with less eccentric orbits the solar system has to be "on edge"

Did you mean inclination rather than eccentricity here?

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


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Taq
Member
Posts: 6634
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 13 of 24 (603738)
02-07-2011 12:38 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by NoNukes
02-05-2011 7:14 PM


Did you mean inclination rather than eccentricity here?

Yes, that's the word I was looking for.

For large planets with eccentric orbits we can measure the movement of the parent star to determine the size and orbit of the planet. For smaller planets with nearly circular orbits (like the Earth) this technique can not be used. Instead, you need to observe a transit in front of the parent star to determine the size and (I think) the orbit of the planet.


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Taz
Member (Idle past 734 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


(1)
Message 14 of 24 (603828)
02-07-2011 10:33 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Coragyps
02-05-2011 12:17 PM


I am convinced that eventually we will find out without a doubt that the universe is teeming with oases of habitable conditions for life.

What's the difference between my belief in this and the christian faith? Well, for one thing I don't care if other people believe this with me or not. But more importantly, I don't flood internet forums with my bullshit.


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GDR
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Posts: 4240
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 15 of 24 (603831)
02-08-2011 12:18 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Taz
02-05-2011 2:33 AM


Taz writes:

You gotta think of it this way, though. First, they kept making the argument that if the earth was like a mile off its orbit then life as we know it would seize to exist. Then they made the argument that planets are a rare thing and that our solar system might be the only one in the cosmos with planets. And then when they found extrasolar planets, they made the argument that rocky planets in habitable zones are extremely rare such that earth could have only existed because god created it this way.
You see where I'm going with this? They keep moving their goal post. Now that we've found hundreds of planets in habitable zones, I'm just hoping that they could finally shut the hell up.

I'm not 100% sure who you mean by they but if you are referring to Christians I can't see the connection. Whether the Christian faith represents reality or not has nothing whatsoever to do with life on other planets.


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