Kepler Discovers Small Exoplanet

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/01/10/nasa.planet.discovery/index.html?hpt=C1

(CNN) said:
A NASA spacecraft has detected a rocky planet that is the smallest ever discovered outside the Sun's solar system, the agency announced Monday.

The exoplanet -- so named because it orbits a star other than the Sun -- has been dubbed Kepler-10b. It measures 1.4 times the Earth's diameter and was confirmed after more than eight months of data collection, the agency said. It is the first rocky, or Earth-like, planet discovered by Kepler.

"All of Kepler's best capabilities have converged to yield the first solid evidence of a rocky planet orbiting a star other than our sun," said Natalie Batalha, deputy science team leader for the NASA mission. "The Kepler team made a commitment in 2010 about finding the telltale signatures of small planets in the data, and it's beginning to pay off."
This is a portion of the article, but it's quite optimistic. I hope that I'm not posting old news, and if I am please just delete this mentors. If not, I'm impressed, and this new era of finding exoplanets... what are the limits? What can we expect over the next decade in this area?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
309
0
We can expect to discover other earth sized planets but hopefully within the so-called Goldilocks or life-friendly zone. The number of earth-sized planets in our galaxy is said to be approx 46 billion by one estimate. So it's just a matter of time before we hit the jackpot. Unfortunately
Kepler 10b which is 560 light-years distant is so close to its star that it's a veritable oven.


We can also expect an increased ability to analyze exo-planetary atmospheres in an effort to detect biological activity. This is done by examining the parent-star's light as it travels though the exo-planet's atmosphere at an angle on its way to us.

We can also expect to make progress in our effort to diminish the interfering star-glare that makes direct observation of an exo-planet almost impossible at present.
 
Last edited:
  • #3
We can expect to discover other earth sized planets but hopefully within the so-called Goldilocks or life-friendly zone. The number of earth-sized planets in our galaxy is said to be approx 46 billion by one estimate. So it's just a matter of time before we hit the jackpot. Unfortunately
Kepler 10b which is 560 light-years distant is so close to its star that it's a veritable oven.


We can also expect an increased ability to analyze exo-planetary atmospheres in an effort to detect biological activity. This is done by examining the parent-star's light as it travels though the exo-planet's atmosphere at an angle on its way to us.


We can also expect to make progress in our effort to diminish the interfering star-glare that makes direct observation of an exo-planet almost impossible at present.
re: bolded: I think that ability is the most exciting prospect to me... it's just mind-blowing when you consider where we were just a few decades ago.
 
  • #4
309
0
re: bolded: I think that ability is the most exciting prospect to me... it's just mind-blowing when you consider where we were just a few decades ago.
I agree! All these discoveries would have been unthinkable just decades ago!


BTW
They just did this with Beta Pictoris by using what they refer to as an Apodising Phase Plate coronagraph or ".... a throat sweet, the Apodising Phase Plate which causes light waves coming from a star to interfere with each other, exposing the faint glow of a nearby planet." Of course the planet appears next to its star as a light which dissapears as it orbits in front of its star whose light is blocked out.

The next challenge would be to remove that planetary glare and view the planet as it would appear if we were part of that star system. Now that would really be another giant leap!



Astronomers discover new way of spotting planets that were hidden in their star's glare
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1321453/Astronomers-discover-new-way-spotting-planets-hidden-stars-glare.html
 
  • #5
196
0
Exciting times are ahead.....
 
  • #6
Yep... this is definitely one of the unadulterated pleasures of looking beyond our own planet, and star system. I wonder if anything ever looked at this planet (likely at some point when we were not on it given time-scales) with technology like the stuff being developed now...

Very heady, all of this, on the practical and fanciful sides.
 
  • #7
309
0
The sad part would be being able to look but not to comunicate or visit. On the other hand that in itself could very well prove to be the incentive necessary for a burst of human creative ingenuity leading to a warp drive capable of spanning the seemingly insurmountable vast distances involved.
As to a multi-generational starship with those who are born on the ship being those who would reach the planet, that would seem rather far-fetched from a pychological emotional viewpint since the initial crew would be without the motivation to subject itself to that kind of an ordeal.

On the other hand we might try send machines as we have done in the case of Mars and other planets of out solar system. But then again the time involved at subluminal velocities would still be enormous with our present technologies and that too would necessitate a warp drive. In short, it seems as if our exploration of any earthlike planet depeds on our ability to invent a super-luminal drive in addition to the protective decices that such a starship and its human crew requires.
 
Last edited:
  • #8
The sad part would be being able to look but not to comunicate or visit. On the other hand that in itself could very well prove to be the incentive necessary for a burst of human creative ingenuity leading to a warp drive capable of spanning the seemingly insurmountable vast distances involved.
As to a multi-generational starship with those who are born on the ship being those who would reach the planet, that would seem rather far fetched since the initial crew would be without the motivation to subject itself to that kind of an ordeal.
If all we can ever do is look across tens, thousands, or millions of years, I say we should still take a look. It's sad, but bittersweet if we find that we're only alone in time, and not in space.... as it were. (RHPS fans anyone? lol)
 
  • #9
DaveC426913
Gold Member
18,597
2,053
If all we can ever do is look across tens, thousands, or millions of years, I say we should still take a look.
Yes, there's volumes we can learn by looking.

We can't communicate/visit the Pharoahs or the dinosaurs, but would anyone say it's hardly worth looking?
 
  • #10
Yes, there's volumes we can learn by looking.

We can't communicate/visit the Pharoahs or the dinosaurs, but would anyone say it's hardly worth looking?
Well, I'd guess the first expedition would learn that Pharoahs are cranky, and dinos are hungry... after that... :wink:

Oh, you mean looking at their bones? Yes... of course!... here I was thinking time-travel into the past for fun and observation. You know, if you told people: you'll spend the rest of your life in the past, only able to leave us a record of what you learned.... I bet there's be a line of takers with doctorates, and just-plain curious folk.

I can't even joke anymore about it, the concept is so profound; to have the ability to LOOK, just observe, HOW people used a given device, what was a ceremony and what wasn't... none of it requires communication beyond looking.

Just single genuine still frame of another kind of life, on an exoplanet... even if we're talking about millennial or greater temporal separation... it would be one of, if not THE, most profound moment in human history; we would no longer be a sample size of 1. In a way, I think that's why we look to the past, not just to learn, but to be less alone as humans in the darkness.
 
  • #11
DaveC426913
Gold Member
18,597
2,053
Just single genuine still frame of another kind of life, on an exoplanet... even if we're talking about millennial or greater temporal separation... it would be one of, if not THE, most profound moment in human history; we would no longer be a sample size of 1.
I have often thought the same thing. Just knowing would change a lot. A single frame would change the human race.
 

Related Threads for: Kepler Discovers Small Exoplanet

Replies
8
Views
1K
Replies
1
Views
723
Replies
5
Views
971
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
5K
Replies
1
Views
2K
Replies
6
Views
850
Replies
2
Views
2K
Top