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Hot Jupiters May Indicate Hospitable Planets 162

Posted by Zonk
from the new-places-to-hang-out dept.
eldavojohn writes "An interesting article from National Geographic points out that other solar systems which contain planets like a 'Hot Jupiter' have a higher chance of also containing Earth-like planets." From the article: "'We now think there is a new class of ocean-covered--and possibly habitable--planets in solar systems unlike our own,' Raymond said. The simulations also showed that rocky planets known as hot Earths may often form when hot Jupiters push material forward during their inward treks. But hot Earths, which can be up to five times bigger than our Earth, orbit closer to their stars and are not likely to support life. Even if water does contribute to their formation, most hot Earths probably end up dry, study co-author Raymond says. "
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Hot Jupiters May Indicate Hospitable Planets

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  • by WilliamSChips (793741) <full@infinity.gmail@com> on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:14PM (#16069098) Journal
    At first it says that a Hot Jupiter would make a habitable planet, but then it says that the Hot Earths it makes will be uninhabitable.
    • by w33t (978574) *
      Well, I think they are saying that hot earths may form some of the time; not always - but I see nothing which rules out regular earths being formed as well.

      For instance, I wonder if it might occur that a hot Jupiter and Sun might form peculiar kinds of Lagrangian points where debris may coalesce into habitable planets.

      Perhaps this planet could remain in a perpetual eclipse of the hot Jupiter, allowing earth-like temperatures to exist.
      • ...if they released the software they were doing the simulations with under an Open Source license.
        • by w33t (978574)
          That's an interesting point.

          Considering that most astronomy and astrophysics is publicly funded, including the software development, one would think this software would be publicly available.
          • The police in the UK is publically funded but I can't remember the last time they sent me a free MP5 in the post...
            • by jd (1658)
              I'm sure they'd send you a free MP if you offered the correct masonic handshake.
      • L4 and L5 might exist, but as TFA notes the Hot Jupiter would have an orbit smaller than Mercury. They would be too hot. Even with an R or N, I suspect. They also would probably be gravity locked, which tends to produce lethal weather.

        L2 ( the only shady one ) is not stable. Sorry.
        • Also, for L4 and L5 to be stable, the Jupiter-like planet has to be about 25 times less massive than the sun, or smaller ( 24.7 ? I forget the exact number. ) As the sun gets small enough for L4 and L5 to be cool enough, the ratio drops below the crucial figure, and even L4 and L5 are not stable.
    • by LionMage (318500) on Friday September 08, 2006 @05:09PM (#16069393) Homepage
      At first it says that a Hot Jupiter would make a habitable planet, but then it says that the Hot Earths it makes will be uninhabitable.


      If you read the article, it's a bit more clear than the summary apparently was for you.

      The article is saying that as Hot Jupiters migrate inwards, they temporarily disrupt the belt of debris in the habitable zone of a forming solar system. Then, after the Hot Jupiter has passed through, that debris has a chance to coalesce into habitable, Earth-like planets. In addition to this (and this is where careful reading and good reading comprehension skills come in handy), Hot Earths can be formed when Hot Jupiters push some material forward with them during their inward migration. From the article:

      "We now think there is a new class of ocean-covered--and possibly habitable--planets in solar systems unlike our own," Raymond said.

      The simulations also showed that rocky planets known as hot Earths may often form when hot Jupiters push material forward during their inward treks.

      (Emphasis added.)
      • The article is rather confusingly written, surprising for National G.

        A better one (IMHO) can be found here [rockymountainnews.com], and mentions that that Raymond et al's paper is in the current issue of Science [sciencemag.org].

        There's also a summary in Science Now [sciencemag.org].
    • by geekoid (135745)
      Since there still is not consenseus among scientist what the definition of 'planet' it, it is premature to say whether it is or isn't.

      The recent vote does not equal consenseus.

      There is no logcal reason for it not to be a planet.

      Personally, I don't think it should be included as a planet;However telling my young daughter that Pluto may no longer be considered a planet made her cry. Based on that I might rethink my position.

      Interestingly enough, Charon qualifies as a planet under the new definition.
      • by kalidasa (577403)
        Actually, no, Charon does not qualify as a planet under the new definition: it has not cleared its orbit any more than Pluto has.
        • Interestingly none of the large rocks between Jupiter and the Sun count as planets either under the new definition, as none can seriously be described as having cleared their paths (the relative lack of debris is largely due to Jupiter.)

          Ordinary English speaking people, using common definitions of the words: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and possibly others are planets.

          Astronomers being dicks: Actually you're wrong, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are the on

  • by TopShelf (92521) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:16PM (#16069103) Homepage Journal
    What we need is a five-year mission [slashdot.org] to explore these strange, new worlds, seek out new life, and new civilizations...
    • Do you suggest we call it "Star Trek"? It'll probably just be called Orion, like everything else.
      • by eln (21727) *
        I think we should call it Apollo and fake the whole thing, just to see if the conspiracy theorists' heads explode.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Waffle Iron (339739)
      I've been studying extrasolar planets for exactly 40 years. My findings don't agree at all with the hypotheses presented in the article. Here is what I've found out:
      • All extrasolar planets have a mass and density such that gravitational acceleration at the surface is 9.8 m/s^2.
      • All extrasolar planets have an atmosphere breathable by humans and a surface temperature of approximately 70 degrees F.
      • Imaging shows that from space, in the visual wavelengths different extrasolar planets reflect a wide variety of
      • by hazem (472289)
        In my own studies, I've also noticed that most of them also have a strange fog that stays at about boot-height, accompanied by strange and haunting sounds that are almost musical.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      you're 40 years to late.
    • by tylernt (581794)
      We now think there is a new class of ocean-covered--and possibly habitable--planets
      Best to come up with names for things. I propose we call these planets... "M class" planets.
  • My misread (Score:2, Funny)

    by matt me (850665)
    Hot Jupiters May Indicate Hospitable Penis.
  • by Kamineko (851857) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:17PM (#16069110)
    "Hot Jupiter, Batman! What's going on here?"
  • But hot Earths, which can be up to five times bigger than our Earth, orbit closer to their stars and are not likely to support life. Even if water does contribute to their formation, most hot Earths probably end up dry, study co-author Raymond says.

    Among a billion and billion of stars, it is statistically likely to find a planet or two to have just the right condition to hold water at the right temperature. Proof? Look at our planet.

    An interesting idea, in any case.
    • by vertinox (846076)
      Among a billion and billion of stars, it is statistically likely to find a planet or two to have just the right condition to hold water at the right temperature. Proof? Look at our planet.

      Oh but you run into the problem (or just case) of Anthropic Principle [wikipedia.org].

      Had the conditions on Earth or in our local or even macro-universe levels had been any different perhaps we wouldn't be around to notice.

      Only those places in the universe that support not only life, but the evolution of intelligent life... Or at least in
      • either life is not very common in the universe or we just happen to be the first to achieve our level of intelligence.

        Considering that Earth-like planets may have been created billions of years before our own, I don't think it very probable that we would be the first, unless intelligent life is very unlikely to happen. For instance, how about the rather improbable asteroid collision that scientists believe killed the dinosaurs. If it had not happened, Earth could have had intelligent life 50 million years

        • by rm999 (775449)
          "For instance, how about the rather improbable asteroid collision that scientists believe killed the dinosaurs. If it had not happened, Earth could have had intelligent life 50 million years ago."

          Or maybe it never would have happened. Mammals only dominated because the dinosaurs died. Mass extinctions are good for ecological diversity because they are almost always followed by an explosion in new types of species.

          "Given all that, I think the lack of ETs on Earth is due to one of two possible causes: either
          • by mangu (126918)
            Or it could be the fact that they are millions of light years away

            Yes, that too. Certainly a much more likely cause than the "interdict theory", because if it takes thousands of years to reach a planet, law enforcement will not be a likely deterrent...

            Still, it's a bit depressing to think that simple physics limitations will keep us bound to our planet forever. I prefer to think that, given a sufficiently advanced technology, speed of light will not limit us. Get close enough to light speed and any trip wi

            • by Jeremi (14640)
              Get close enough to light speed and any trip will take zero time for the traveler.

              ... but plenty of time for the people at the destination. So perhaps an alien hopped into his spaceship this morning, he's going to pop over to Earth before lunch time (according to his watch)... but as far as we're concerned, he won't be here for another 50,000 years. :^(

              • I don't think this is the case, according to our current knowledge of space/time.

                Isn't it more the case that if they were to TELL us they were coming over to earth via radiowaves, he 'wouldn't be here for 50,000 years', but given that he can get to earth in, say, 5 minutes, why would he send a radio message in the first place, given that he'd beat it? It would APPEAR to the alien that they were on earth '50,000 years on' if they checked a telescope before they travelled, and compared the visual outcome when
                • by Jeremi (14640)
                  I don't think this is the case, according to our current knowledge of space/time.

                  I'm afraid it is the case. Check out the Twins Paradox [wikipedia.org] for details.

                  but given that he can get to earth in, say, 5 minutes

                  It would be 5 minutes according to the travelling alien's wriswatch, 50,000 years according to anyone observing the spaceship from the outside. (I'm presuming his spaceship can only go near-lightspeed, not faster than light... if that is possible, then all bets are off :^))

        • by berzerke (319205)

          ...the dinosaurs apparently existed for hundreds of millions of years without developing any form of superior intelligence...

          I've often wondered if this is true, or not. Maybe they did develop intelligence, but after many million of years, and a few global calamities, the signs just aren't there anymore, or we don't recognize the signs, or we haven't found the few signs that yet remain (new species of dinosaur are still being discovered after all). How much human civilization would be still exist, let a

          • by Jerf (17166)
            Resource consumption. To have a technological civilization, you will consume resources. Resources which are still there; many mineral resources we've exploited are older than the dinosaurs. Therefore, nobody has beaten us to them.

            Is it impossible that an intelligent civilization preceded us? Not entirely. But "they didn't use the resource because they had a pure-biological technology" is pretty unlikely (and might well also manifest itself in obvious ways in the genetic record) by very simple economic argum
            • by berzerke (319205)

              ...Resource consumption. To have a technological civilization, you will consume resources...

              I never said anything about an advanced technological civilization, merely that they could have evolved intelligence. How much resource consumption does a stone age civilization really use compared to our more advanced civilization? Maybe they stopped at rocks and slings and clubs. None of those tools require much resource consumption. Many primative societies used tools made from animal bodies and plants. Again,

          • When I saw the movie Jurassic Park [wikipedia.org] all I could say was, "man would not have wanted to be on the planet at the same time as those creatures".

            Some of them had evolved into almost perfect killing machines.

            Very scary, and a classic (no pun intended) to be sure.

            • by Omestes (471991)
              Same could be said, to a more limited and smaller extent, of cats, sharks, and humans (apes, limited). Life is smaller, but not qualitivly different.
        • by Jeremi (14640)
          Given all that, I think the lack of ETs on Earth is due to one of two possible causes: either the probability of life arising is very low, or there is an "interdict law" among space-faring races, that protect from contact planets with primitive life forms that may eventually develop intelligence.

          There's an easier explanation: space is big. Really, really big. You have no idea how mind-bogglingly vast interstellar distances are. As Adams says, it simply doesn't fit in the human imagination. Perhaps even

          • by nizo (81281) *
            Right; it is like an antpile wondering why humans on the other side of the earth haven't visited yet.
        • But how do we define intelligence in a non-speciescentric way? Our current definition of intelligence hinges on compairing other examples to ourself. Dolphins are intelligent (by human standard), wherease blue-green algea isn't (by human standards). But both could be defined as intelligent in that they occupy their niche sucessfully, and display the amount of adaptability needed to thrive in said niche. Less sucessful than us, perhaps, but we're generalists.

          See the general problem behind defining extra-
        • or there is an "interdict law" among space-faring races, that protect from contact planets with primitive life forms that may eventually develop intelligence.

          That assumes many things which shouldn't be assumed. Just because FTL travel exists in almost every modern SF show doesn't mean that it's possible. Sapient life could actually be common but we wouldn't know about it if very few, if any, species make it no farther than their own solar system. And then there's the War of the Worlds syndrome, which all t

    • Stat wise you can claim that there is ONE Earth with life that is intelligent -per galaxy (using us as the only positive sample for this galaxy.)

      If you agree with that premise, then there is an estimated 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe; therefore, we can estimate there is 200 billion places similar to Earth.
  • by SIGFPE (97527)
    The story actually says "We don't think that they're really good places to harbor life, if you need liquid water on the surface [to support life]."


    But of course if you can get more hits for advertising on /. by saying the complete opposite of the story then by all means do so.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jemecki (661581)
      You misread the article. The quote was referring to a "Hot Earth" which is similar to what a "Hot Jupiter" is, except earth-sized (i.e., really really close to the sun -- closer than Mercury is in our solar system). The habitable planet would be further away, in the habitable zone. Check out the picture [nationalgeographic.com].
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by QuantumFTL (197300) *
      The article also says:
      "We now think there is a new class of ocean-covered--and possibly habitable--planets in solar systems unlike our own," Raymond said.


      I think they may be talking about two different things (Hot Earths and Normal Earths).
    • by LionMage (318500) on Friday September 08, 2006 @05:12PM (#16069407) Homepage
      Um, no, you just read the story wrong. The story is saying that both "hot Earths" and habitable, Earth-like planets can form in systems that have so-called hot Jupiters.

      It amazes me how some folks are so quick to judge something that they actually wind up demonstrating their own ignorance (or inability to comprehend a slightly confusing science article, take your pick).
  • by StefanJ (88986) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:22PM (#16069144) Homepage Journal
    Rather than the clunky, misleading, and overly broad use of "Earth like," I wish articles like this would use the perfectly good term "terrestrial."

    Mercury, Venus, Mars and Earth are all terrestrials. Rocky worlds, as opposed to gas giants or icy bodies.
    • "Terrestrial" is the Latin for "earthlike".
    • Rather than the clunky, misleading, and overly broad use of "Earth like," I wish articles like this would use the perfectly good term "terrestrial."

      While its more accurate domain-specific jargon, its really not any more communicative to anyone else, I mean in

      common use [reference.com]? it means pertaining to, consisting of, or representing the earth as distinct from other planets, which is pretty close to precisely the opposite of the distinction you are trying to make here, and the natural interpretation from the etym

    • by multipartmixed (163409) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:53PM (#16069318) Homepage
      ...the term for an "earth-like" planet is "Class M".

      These scientists, however, are talking about "Hot Earths" -- which would be "Class L" planets.
      • Or they may be referring to any planet that generates green-skinned alien hotties, like the ones Capt. Kirk tends to meet on most planetery missions.
      • by FleaPlus (6935) *
        > These scientists, however, are talking about "Hot Earths" -- which would be "Class L" planets.

        Not to nitpick, but are you sure they wouldn't be class B planets instead?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek_planet_clas sifications#Class_B_Geomorteus [wikipedia.org]

        Young planets, Class B worlds are less than 10 billion years old. Their diameters range in size from 1,000 to 10,000 km. They are located in the hotzone region of a star's solar system. Their surfaces are partially molten and may feature active volcanoes wit
        • Good point -- Class B actually does seem to describe what TFA is talking about more accurately than Class L.

          Oddly enough, the error here isn't in my understanding of the planet classification system used in Star Trek; rather, my understanding of TFA in the first place (hey, I glossed over it; this is /. afterall!).

          I think this goes to prove that current science still has a lot to learn from Michael Okuda and his bretheren! ... At least NASA has finally hire Mike for *something* (Orion Patch).
    • by Moofie (22272)
      "terrestrial" would be pertaining to Terra, which is the latin name for this particular planet we're all occupying.

      So, yeah, not such a good substitute. Nice try, though.
  • Author's blog: (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    For more information, see the blog entry [scienceblogs.com] of Penn State astronomy professor Steinn Sigurðsson [psu.edu], one of the coauthors of this paper.
  • Sign up now (Score:4, Funny)

    by Kesch (943326) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:32PM (#16069208)
    Step 1) Discover possibly habitable worlds (or get others to do it for you)
    Step 2) Sell acreage on said worlds
    Step 3) Profit!

    There is no ??? here, it's a pure goldmine. I have to hop on this right away (PATENT PENDING PATENT PENDING PATENT PENDING).

    Once I run out of acreage on discovered planets, I'll just start selling space on the next discovered one.

    C'mon you know you want a beach house in an entirely different galaxy (nevermind that the beach overlooks an ocean of magma).
    • by geekoid (135745)
      " (nevermind that the beach overlooks an ocean of magma)."

      Are you kidding me? thats a plus in my book!
      --Capt. Magma
  • by bunions (970377) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:38PM (#16069236)
    "Hot Jupiters!" has just become my favorite exclamation, bumping "Good Gravy!" off the list and pushing "OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY!!!" down to the #2 spot.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      yu know, I am going to make a point of using that expresion.
      In fact, I usrg all readers of /. to use the expression and see how long it takes to show up in a quote unrelated to astronomy.
  • Hot Titans? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by darkonc (47285) <stephen_samuel.bcgreen@com> on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:40PM (#16069247) Homepage Journal
    Well, if you have a hot jupiter, perhaps you could have earthlike conditions on the moons of the hot jupiter. We're pretty close with Titan. If jupiter were a brown dwarf, it might be just enough to put Titan or one of the other moons into a habitable zone -- You'd also have good tidal action to help push life onto the dry land.

    Has anybody exhaustively explored the concept?

    • Titan's a moon of Saturn, so if Jupiter was a brown dwarf it wouldn't do much. Then again, while it has a substantial atmosphere (uniquely among all moons in the Solar System), I'd hardly say it's "pretty close" to earthlike conditions, other than having a dense, mostly-nitrogen atmosphere.
    • by Surt (22457) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:58PM (#16069344) Homepage Journal
      Has anybody exhaustively explored the concept?

      I got tired just thinking about it.

      More seriously: of course not .. we barely have any understanding what's going on with this planet, much less hypothetical other planets in surprising new types of planetary systems.
    • Re:Hot Titans? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday September 08, 2006 @05:12PM (#16069412) Homepage Journal
      Well, if you have a hot jupiter, perhaps you could have earthlike conditions on the moons of the hot jupiter.

      If those moons were at least as massive as Mars, and preferably Venus or Earth there might be a chance of this working. Titan has its volatiles because it is cold. Heat it up and you are left with a small rocky moon.

    • by griffjon (14945)
      Has anybody exhaustively explored the concept?

      Not counting Arthur C. Clark in 2010?
  • This study is a little bit backwards. The underlaying problem is that we can not detect if nearby stars have planets like ours. We only have resolution to find big planets that orbit hot. And of course, since this is the only thing we can see, we see this often. And of course since we can not see small rocky planets 150Mkm from a star, we do not see any solar systems like ours.

    So now we have found a buch of "Hot Jupiters", and not earths with water, and what do we do?

    Well, we do just like the drunk that
  • We could use more hot earth women.
  • 26.03.2137 1500 Entry #135811
    Donny had an accident today and was exposed to the xenosphere out there. I'm starting to get a little worried here
    because this morning he was still fine, four hours into the quarantine period but Walt says from what he's been
    able to tell Donny has started coughing up bloody phlegm.
    26.03.2137 2000 Entry #135812
    Walt convinced me to let him take the portable xray into the airlock and took pictures of Donny's lungs.
    From what I understand the situation couldn't be worse.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      Jeez man, what do you have against Donny?

      you sicko.

    • How the hell did an organism that had never been exposed to anything remotely like terrestrial life adapt to use a human as a host within a few seconds?
  • If there were no hot Earths, where would the hot Jupiters get their hot starbabies from? [wikipedia.org]
  • It is encouraging that there may be "earth like" planets out there. But not so much as for us to find alien life as it is for us to have new planets to colonize. I say this because there are many possible configurations which can lead to intelligence. But let's top for a moment and figure out what defines the intelligence that we seek: well, it's difficult to figure out. Cats and dogs seem to have something, but also something missing. Well, that missing part is recursion in the thought process. It is what
    • "Well, that missing part is recursion in the thought process."

      Dogshit. Dogs in particular, pick up the human languages with ease. Not to an adult's level, but certainly to the level of some of the lower members of /. They can and do plan for the future in the sense of hiding their favorite toy or chew from other dogs and they understand complex commands.

      The problem with most animal 'psychologists' is they cannot seem to understand that there is no motivation for the animal to behave in the way the rese
  • Sort of -- a gas giant transit might be impressive if not actually an eclipse?

  • ''... solar systems which contain planets like a 'Hot Jupiter' have a higher chance of also containing Earth-like planets.''

    According to the new IAU definition of a Planet, an Earth-like planet must orbit our Sun. Due the IAU's poor definition of a planet (one that restricts the term to only objects that orbit our Sun) one cannot even refer to Earth-like planets around other stars because they cannot fit the IAU's new definition.

    I wish this was a troll post, but it is not. It is am example of the pr

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