Potentially habitable planet may exist just four light years from Earth

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Potentially habitable planet may exist just four light years from Earth Empty Potentially habitable planet may exist just four light years from Earth

Post by Ben Reilly on Wed Aug 24, 2016 6:50 pm

It was just over 20 years ago—a blink of a cosmic eye—that astronomers found the first planets orbiting stars other than our Sun. All these new worlds were gas-shrouded giants like Jupiter or Saturn and utterly inhospitable to life as we know it—but for years each discovery was dutifully reported as front-page news, while scientists and the public alike dreamed of a day when we would find a habitable world. An Earth-like place with plentiful surface water, neither frozen nor vaporized but in the liquid state so essential to life. Back then the safe bet was to guess that the discovery of such a planet would only come after many decades, and that when a promising new world’s misty shores materialized on the other side of our telescopes, it would prove too faraway and faint to study in any detail.

Evidently the safe bet was wrong. On Wednesday astronomers made the kind of announcement that can only occur once in human history: the discovery of the nearest potentially habitable world beyond our solar system. This world may be rocky like ours and whirls in a temperate orbit around the Sun’s closest stellar neighbor, the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri just over four light-years away. Their findings are reported in a study in the journal Nature.

Although technically still considered a “candidate” planet awaiting verification, most astronomers consulted for this story believe the world to be there. Scarcely more than the planet’s orbital period and approximate mass are known, but that is enough to send shivers down spines. Proxima Centauri shines with only about a thousandth of our Sun’s luminosity, meaning any life-friendly planets must huddle close. The newfound world, christened “Proxima b” by scientists, resides in an 11.2-day orbit where water—and thus the kind of life we understand—could conceivably exist. And it is likely to be little more than one-third heavier than Earth, suggesting it offers a solid surface upon which seas and oceans could pool. In a feat of discovery that could reshape the history of science and human dreams of interstellar futures, our species has uncovered a potentially habitable planet right next door.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-earth-next-door/?WT.mc_id=SA_TW_SPC_NEWS

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Post by eddie on Wed Aug 24, 2016 8:07 pm

Let me know when it's ready. I'm booking a ticket.

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Post by HoratioTarr on Wed Aug 24, 2016 8:41 pm

eddie wrote:Let me know when it's ready. I'm booking a ticket.

If, by some remote possibility, humanity could get there, we'd fuck it all up just like we have on this one.
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Post by Syl on Wed Aug 24, 2016 8:54 pm

HoratioTarr wrote:
eddie wrote:Let me know when it's ready. I'm booking a ticket.

If, by some remote possibility, humanity could get there, we'd fuck it all up just like we have on this one.

Cynic.
The knowledge we have now compared to when humans first inhabited this planet is vast....so though cock ups would be made, they would be very different ones.

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Post by Ben Reilly on Wed Aug 24, 2016 10:45 pm

Syl wrote:
HoratioTarr wrote:
eddie wrote:Let me know when it's ready. I'm booking a ticket.

If, by some remote possibility, humanity could get there, we'd fuck it all up just like we have on this one.

Cynic.
The knowledge we have now compared to when humans first inhabited this planet is vast....so though cock ups would be made, they would be very different ones.

Nice! Smart mistakes are infinitely better than dumb mistakes.

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Post by eddie on Wed Aug 24, 2016 10:48 pm

I was planning on going to alone. Never mind.
I'll find somewhere else to hide.

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Post by HoratioTarr on Wed Aug 24, 2016 10:49 pm

Syl wrote:
HoratioTarr wrote:

If, by some remote possibility, humanity could get there, we'd fuck it all up just like we have on this one.

Cynic.
The knowledge we have now compared to when humans first inhabited this planet is vast....so though cock ups would be made, they would be very different ones.

You reckon? How come we're still fucking up then? We can't even live with each other, never mind beings from another world.
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Post by 'Wolfie on Thu Aug 25, 2016 7:25 am

alien

IMAGINE swapping Christmas cards with the neighbours...

Even if transmitted by laser, that would be four years out and another four years for the reply -- eight years turnaround time..

And we all thought that good ol' fashioned "snail mail" was a tad slow these days  !

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