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New Large Rocky Planet Found 119

Posted by samzenpus
from the does-it-have-a-face dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Discovery News is reporting the discovery of a super-sized rocky planet orbiting a red-dwarf. The star is located about 9000 ly from the sun. The planet consists of rock and ice and orbits at around the distance of asteroid belt. The planet could not grow to Jupiter size because the star is small and the system ran out of gas. The planet is about 13 earth masses and was discovered using the microlensing technique. Since most of the stars in the Milky Way are smaller than the sun, we should expect more of similar findings."
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New Large Rocky Planet Found

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  • Bad Joke (Score:4, Funny)

    by wasted (94866) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @10:09PM (#14929729)
    As more of these planets are found using microlensing, perhaps someone could put together the "Rocky Planet Picture Show."

    Sorry, had to do that.
  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @10:23PM (#14929791) Homepage
    I haven't been following this news too closely, so could someone please tell me if they've found any planets that are the size of earth? not 13 earth masses, but somewhere between 0.5 and 2 earth masses would be nice. I know that life can exist outside of conditions found on the earth, but it would be really cool to find intelligent life like ourselves. I'm not sure what evolution did on other planets, but I'd like to see what kind of muscles developed on organisms that lived on a planet with 13 times the mass of the earth.
    • by dex22 (239643)

      ....intelligent life like ourselves....


      I hardly think we rate as intelligent. No, we're about as smart as the bacteria that occupies a petridish until we've released so much toxin we make it uninhabitable for ourselves long before the available food runs out. Frankly, we're about the level of pond-scum in the Grand Scheme.

      • ..we're about as smart as the bacteria that occupies a Petri dish..

        hasn't this bit already been done?

        Put on your "bucket helmet" (think Sponge Bob movie) and follow...

        A giant educationally-advanced species of bacteria decides to rule the "Earth", etc... even a "bacteria" knows where this joke goes... I'm just not sure that I do.
      • Yeah, well, this "pond scum" is going to transcend biologics within the next 100 years and spread its intelligence across the universe. No, global warming is not going to kill us even if the most dire prediction are true. This pond scum has a nasty habit of survival and environmental manipulation.

        If this "pond scum" for some reason doesn't spread itself to the wind to cover every nook and cranny within its little sphere of light, it is only because it doesn't want to or someone else did it first.

        I know kn
        • We might be a step in the grand evolution, but so are ferns, moss, fungi, evergreens, ants, bees. Everything around today is the next step in grand evolution, regardless of its intelligence, awareness, or bra size. Humans are no more exquisite than whales, bonobos, or lemurs. We all are the result of the evolutionary process, and right now, we all are successful result to that process. Humans have NO favor or sway. To consider it any other way is hubris.
          • We ARE a paradigm shift though. In the same way a fungus is no better then a cloud of hydrogen or a few organic molecules, there is a fundamental difference between them. Humanity absolutely has created a new paradigm with technology, and is likely well on its way to use technology to create another one through strong AI or what not. If in a billion years from now the galaxy is saturated with strong AI or something else that has its roots in humanity, well, if nothing else we could say that we left a las
        • Anthropomorphize much?

          If we're a "next step", who's doing the walking, and are they trying to get somewhere in particular? Evolution happens, it's not something people or species do. It's the cumulative effect of the environment on populations over generations. Humanity is great and all, but let's not pretend we're anything other than a happy happenstance.

          As soon as we start consciously engineering our own offspring towards some goal other than pure survival, it's no longer "evolution" in the classical s
        • Nuclear parts formed atoms, atoms formed molecules, molecules formed complex organic molecules, complex organic molecules formed the beginnings of life, the beginnings of life developed into diverse single celled organism, single celled organisms developed into multi-cellular organism, multi-cellular organisms developed into animals with complex behavior, animals with complex behavior developed into intelligent creatures, intelligent creatures developed technology. You looking forward to playing SPORE too?
      • Speak for yourself! I'm fucking fantastic.

    • Venus's mass is 0.815 Earths.
    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @10:51PM (#14929909) Homepage Journal
      AFAIK, none of the techniques we have right now can detect planets much smaller than the one they just found. The exciting thing is that every time the techniques get better, they immediately start finding bunches of new planets down to whatever the current limit is; which implies to me that once the resolution is fine enough, we'll probably be seeing ~Earth-mass planets all over the place.
      • AFAIK, none of the techniques we have right now can detect planets much smaller than the one they just found....

        Actually, according to the article (last paragraph):

        "Microlensing is the only way to detect Earth-mass planets from the ground with current technology," said Gaudi. "If there had been an Earth-mass planet in the same region as this super-Earth, and if the alignment had been just right, we could have detected it."

        So, this technique could find ~Earth-mass planets, but only if they're aligned

    • by 0racle (667029) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @11:08PM (#14929980)
      intelligent life like ourselves
      One of these things is not like the other.
    • ...I'd like to see what kind of muscles developed on organisms that lived on a planet with 13 times the mass of the earth.

      I'm not sure I would. Something tells me we'll have to be really, *really* nice to them.
      • Muscle just makes hollowpoints expand quicker.
        • Muscle just makes hollowpoints expand quicker.

          Stronger gravity makes things fall faster. This means that the beings living there will need faster reflexes to be able to walk, since they have less time to react. 13 times Earths gravity means that the beings will simply sidestep the bullet and watch as it sails past them in virtual slow motion. Assuming that they don't simply stand there and let it pounce of them, since their tissues will also need a much higher tensile strength to resist their local gra

          • You guys all assuming this comparison between the super-muscled folks and us is happening on their planet or ours?

            If its on theirs, then their muscles mean shit as far as reflexes and speed. If your talking about bringing one of them to earth, then, this is a valid discussion.

          • True, just like how we have super-human reflexes on the moon.

            In other words..

            John Glenn != Chuck Norris
          • Stronger gravity makes things fall faster. This means that the beings living there will need faster reflexes to be able to walk, since they have less time to react. 13 times Earths gravity means that the beings will simply sidestep the bullet and watch as it sails past them in virtual slow motion. Assuming that they don't simply stand there and let it pounce of them, since their tissues will also need a much higher tensile strength to resist their local gravity.

            No I'd say stronger gravity just makes the max
      • ...I'd like to see what kind of muscles developed on organisms that lived on a planet with 13 times the mass of the earth.

        I'm not sure I would. Something tells me we'll have to be really, *really* nice to them.

        I have a mental image here of guys with ridiculous musculature, big hair, monkey tails, various impressive ki-based techniques, and a very bad attitude. I for one am hoping like hell for the sake of the rest of the galaxy that the place gets, er... hit by a comet, yeah, a comet...

        • Oh, sure, you go ahead and ponder that theory.... FROM ANOTHER DIMENSION!
        • I only hope that one of them really was raised here on Earth to save us all...
          • I only hope that one of them really was raised here on Earth to save us all...

            We've conducted an extensive search of the world and come up with nothing; if there is such a person, he must live way out in the woods somewhere. Unfortunate, because without training there's no way he'd be able to take on professional alien warriors.

            We do have a prospect we're quite hopeful of; a farmboy from the US corn belt, apparently of extraterrestrial origin, whose physiology has recently displayed some interesting rea

    • "And pray that there's intelligent life
      Somewhere out in space
      Because there's Bugger-all here Earth"

      ~Python et al
      • Here ON Earth, even.

        Preview, why musy you taunt me so?

        (also.. To Slashdot adminbot: Fuck off, "cowboy" I should be able to repost as soon as I realize my mistake, not after some arbitrary slashdot period.)
    • Looking near the star 18 Scorpii seems to be very promising, from the limited wiki reading I've done. The star is a "solar twin" to our sun.
    • intelligent life like ourselves
      I still search `intelligent life` on earth.

      But, btw it is not sure that intelligent life can *only* grow up under
      conditions that are similar to those on earth. It's not even sure that
      life (intelligent or not) needs to be based on carbon and water.
      I would not risk searching intelligent life *only* on earth like planets.
    • somewhere between 0.5 and 2 earth masses would be nice.

      A planet that big is likely to have many large moons, much like the gas giant planets in our own solar system. The same goes for gas giants found around other stars.

      The nice thing about orbiting a large planet is that you get energy from tidal stress, which can help replace energy you would otherwise get from a star.

    • Is the fact they haven't visited us.

      (Sorry. I couldn't resist)

      Splut.
    • You could probably walk on the surface of this thing!

      Just because the mass is 13 times that of the earth doesn't mean the surface gravity is. A more massive body is usually also a bigger body in terms of volume, meaning the surface is further out from the center of gravity. And the pull gravity falls of as the *square* of distance, so it's a very significant effect.

      Assuming this body has about the same density as Earth (Yes, the material would be under greater pressure and therefore maybe more dense, but ho
    • I haven't been following this news too closely, so could someone please tell me if they've found any planets that are the size of earth? not 13 earth masses, but somewhere between 0.5 and 2 earth masses would be nice. I know that life can exist outside of conditions found on the earth, but it would be really cool to find intelligent life like ourselves. I'm not sure what evolution did on other planets, but I'd like to see what kind of muscles developed on organisms that lived on a planet with 13 times the m
    • I haven't been following this news too closely, so could someone please tell me if they've found any planets that are the size of earth?

      Unfortunately, no. Microlensing is a technique that allows us to find smaller planets than was previously possible. As planets go, the Earth is big on the rocky scale, but small compared to, say, Jupiter. It's no accident that extrasolar planets so far discovered are measured in terms of their size compared to Jupiter.

      To discover Earth-sized planets required a space-base

    • I dislike that pessimistic look on life. All that it takes to be truly intelligent is to be able to make the realisation that we may not be truly intelligent. There are so many complex concepts in that thought, that only a truly self aware and comprehending being can articulate it with such ease. We are important. We are concious. We are rare. We are life.
  • I've heard that they've sampled some of the electromagnetic radiation and converted it to audible frequencies. As if crying out to the lonely darkness, Planet Rocky bellows (in a slightly nasal whine): Adriaannnnnnn!!!
  • Yoooooooooooo... Adriannnnneeeee

    • This is a little off-topic, but note the time stamps on these two adjacent posts both noting "adriannneee".

      I have seen a lot of this on Slashdot, where the same thought comes to different people, whom I suppose have very little proximity to each other, yet both post the same thought within seconds of each other.

      Often, one gets modded "redundant", even as the time stamps indicate there was no way the person posting redundantly could have possibly known of the other entry.

      Does anyone have any speculation o

      • It's all due to the properties of chance, I'd say. The chances are quite good that someone would have made the joke within an hour of the original post. Also, the chances are that if someone did make the joke, anyone else that had the idea henceforth would read it and refrain from posting. Estimating that it would take about a minute to check for a similar post, click the reply button, type the message and press submit, there's about a 1/60 chance (following my first inference) that two nearly identical
      • Does anyone have any speculation on the probability, given the enormous arena of thoughts possible to the human mind, that two individuals have identical thoughts simultaneously?

        I think that this dissertation on the The Law of Large Numbers [skepdic.com] is perhaps the best answer to your question. I know that when I posted that reply, it was late in the evening, I'd just finished paying bills, and wanted one more look at Slashdot before I went to bed. I can't say there was any clairvoyance involved -- I noted the titl

  • by malsdavis (542216) * on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @10:32PM (#14929838)
    What the hell does a "super-sized rocky planet" mean?

    I really hate the way Discovery channel always takes information and adjusts it purely for their largest target audience - extremely overweight, couch potatoes who dislike going for more than 5 minutes without seeing the words "super-size".

    • What the hell does a "super-sized rocky planet" mean?

      In this case, it means it's a rocky (i.e., Earth-like) planet with about 13 times the mass of Earth.

      The article says so. (You don't expect to see all the information in the headline, do you?
      • No, just relevant information. Headlines equating specifics of astronomical discoveries to fast-food meals is way too much dumbing-down for me.

        But then why should I bother learning about science when Discovery Channel is showing another brain-dead documentory rephrasing the same 3 misleading facts 500 times for an hour, with a 3D animation repeated every 30 secounds to prevent viewers from daring to use even a small amount of imagniation.

    • Well, it's about 30 million VW Beetles (by volume). Better?
  • So, when will we be able to use a worm hole, or jump across wrinkles in space to actually visit this planet, and see it with our own eyes?

    That's what I'd like to see...or at least the beginning of real space travel across light years in minutes or hours.

  • Fill-er-up! (Score:2, Funny)

    by SeeMyNuts! (955740)
    "The planet could not grow to Jupiter size because the star is small and the system ran out of gas."

    No problem. They'll just coast another few light years, and it turns out there's a Speedway just past the next pulsar. Add a couple chili dogs from the snack bar, and there'll be enough gas in that system for another 5 million years.

  • ly? (Score:2, Funny)

    by yagu (721525) *

    Wow! First time I've ever seen light years abbreviated (or formed to an acronym) as ly! Here's one of my favorites: WTF?

    • Re:ly? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Witchblade (9771)
      You obviously never graded any of my homework. As an undergrad or graduate student. Or published journal articles. There's no official abbreviation, but it gets abbreviated 90% of the time. Like with seconds (s, sec, or even " seen frequently. Of course the last IS offical when describing divisions of an arc.) 'Lyrs' is also common.
      • Re:ly? (Score:1, Informative)

        by protagon (852658)
        only rarely seen lyrs, but I've seen ltyr frequently. ly is more common though. And yes, IAAA (I am an astrophysicist). You've also got pc which is parsec which has a geometrical meaning but is nothing but 3.26 ly.
      • Re:ly? (Score:5, Funny)

        by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @05:38AM (#14931375)
        'Lyrs' is also common.

        I thought that was an abbreviation for 'politicians'. As in 'Tony Blair and George Bush are lyrs.'

      • In fact, when talking about time, `s' is also official. While `sec' may be seen frequently, it's nonstandard. Lightyears are not the standard unit for measuring astronomical distances, of course; that distinction belongs to the parsec (pc). That being said, `ly' is a perfectly good abbreviation and much better than writing it out. The original poster certainly understood what it meant, at any rate.
  • I think first we should focus on finding life elsewhere, not intelligent. Intelligent life would always be nice to find, but it'd be easier to find just anything living first. It'd be very hard to communicate with other forms of intelligent life because we'd speak entirely different languages, and come from entirely different places. Sure, we do that on earth, but these ETs will not be familiar with and earth things at all. The design for things can be extremely different than ours and such, so it wouldn't
  • The star is located about 9000 ly from the sun.

    If it's that far away, we obviously can't see it yet. The universe was created in 4004BC. [wikipedia.org].
  • by Science_Writer (758048) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:14PM (#14933814) Homepage
    Hi, everyone. I wrote one of the original news releases about this planet discovery, so I'm very interested in the discussion of whether the "super-Earth" is exciting news or not. When I first found out about the planet (I work at Ohio State University; one of our astronomers heads the team that identified it) I knew I had to write a news release (I mean, this is a new planet!) but I also had to wonder how much of a splash the story would make in the media.

    Some 170 extrasolar planets have been discovered in the last decade, so there's already been a lot of news coverage. But it's easy to forget that before a decade ago, scientists had no real evidence of what other solar systems are like. This planet is unusual in that it's terrestrial, and its solar system doesn't seem to have any giant gas planets like Jupiter. So the find expands our ideas about what kinds of solar systems are out there, and it also suggests that we're getting closer to our goal of finding other Earth-mass planets.

    There's more information in the Ohio State news release [osu.edu], and the one written by my colleagues at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics [harvard.edu]. There are also lots of other news stories out there right now, most notably by New Scientist [newscientistspace.com], National Geographic [nationalgeographic.com], and Space.com [space.com].

    Pam Gorder

  • by Anonymous Coward
    for summary of discovered extrasolar planets (exoplanets) check
        www.exoplanets.org [exoplanets.org]

    (it's not updated as frequently as news sites, but it IS maintained by astronomers, not someone making a quick buck...)

"I'm not a god, I was misquoted." -- Lister, Red Dwarf

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