Connect with us

Space

First ‘Alien Earth’ Will Be Found in 2013, Experts Say

Mike Wall, SPACE

The first truly Earth-like alien planet is likely to be spotted next year, an epic discovery that would cause humanity to reassess its place in the universe.

While astronomers have found a number of exoplanets over the last few years that share one or two key traits with our own world — such as size or inferred surface temperature — they have yet to bag a bona fide “alien Earth.” But that should change in 2013, scientists say.

“I’m very positive that the first Earth twin will be discovered next year,” said Abel Mendez, who runs the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo.

First 'Alien Earth' Will Be Found in 2013, Experts Say

Planets piling up

Astronomers discovered the first exoplanet orbiting a sunlike star in 1995. Since they, they’ve spotted more than 800 worlds beyond our own solar system, and many more candidates await confirmation by follow-up observations. [The Strangest Alien Planets (Gallery)]

NASA’s prolific Kepler Space Telescope, for example, has flagged more than 2,300 potential planets since its March 2009 launch. Only 100 or so have been confirmed to date, but mission scientists estimate that at least 80 percent will end up being the real deal.

The first exoplanet finds were scorching-hot Jupiter-like worlds that orbit close to their parent stars, because they were the easiest to detect. But over time, new instruments came online and planet hunters honed their techniques, enabling the discovery of smaller and more distantly orbiting planets — places more like Earth.

Last December, for instance, Kepler found a planet 2.4 times larger than Earth orbiting in its star’s habitable zone — that just-right range of distances where liquid water, and perhaps life as we know it, can exist.

The Kepler team and other research groups have detected several other worlds like that one (which is known as Kepler-22b), bringing the current tally of potentially habitable exoplanets to nine by Mendez’ reckoning.

Habitable Zones for Different Stars
Habitable zones for different stars. An intelligent civilization could allow a planet outside the zone to still be habitable. CREDIT: NASA

Zeroing in on Earth’s twin

None of the worlds in Mendez’ Habitable Exoplanets Catalog are small enough to be true Earth twins. The handful of Earth-size planets spotted to date all orbit too close to their stars to be suitable for life. [Gallery: 9 Potentially Habitable Exoplanets]

But it’s only a matter of time before a small, rocky planet is spotted in the habitable zone — and Mendez isn’t the only researcher who thinks that time is coming soon.

“The first planet with a measured size, orbit and incident stellar flux that is suitable for life is likely to be announced in 2013,” said Geoff Marcy, a veteran planet hunter at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of the Kepler team.

Mendez and Marcy both think this watershed find will be made by Kepler, which spots planets by flagging the telltale brightness dips caused when they pass in front of their parent stars from the instrument’s perspective.

Kepler needs to witness three of these”transits” to detect a planet, so its early discoveries were tilted toward close-orbiting worlds (which transit more frequently). But over time, the telescope has been spotting more and more distantly orbiting planets — including some in the habitable zone.

An instrument called HARPS (short for High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher) is also a top contender, having already spotted a number of potentially habitable worlds. HARPS, which sits on the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6-meter telescope in Chile, allows researchers to detect the tiny gravitational wobbles that orbiting planets induce in their parent stars.

“HARPS should be able to find the most interesting and closer Earth twins,” Mendez told SPACE.com via email, noting that many Kepler planets are too far away to characterize in detail. “A combination of its sensitivity and long-term observations is now paying off.”

And there are probably many alien Earths out there to be found in our Milky Way galaxy, researchers say.

“Estimating carefully, there are 200 billion stars that host at least 50 billion planets, if not more,” Mikko Tuomi, of the University of Hertfordshire in England, told SPACE.com via email.

“Assuming that 1:10,000 are similar to the Earth would give us 5,000,000 such planets,” added Tuomi, who led teams reporting the discovery of several potentially habitable planet candidates this year, including an exoplanet orbiting the star Tau Ceti just 11.9 light-years from Earth. “So I would say we are talking about at least thousands of such planets.”

What it would mean

Whenever the first Earth twin is confirmed, the discovery will likely have a profound effect on humanity.

“We humans will look up into the night sky, much as we gaze across a large ocean,” Marcy told SPACE.com via email. “We will know that the cosmic ocean contains islands and continents by the billions, able to support both primitive life and entire civilizations.”

Marcy hopes such a find will prod our species to take its first real steps beyond its native solar system.

“Humanity will close its collective eyes, and set sail for Alpha Centauri,” Marcy said, referring to the closest star system to our own, where an Earth-size planet was discovered earlier this year.

“The small steps for humanity will be a giant leap for our species. Sending robotic probes to the nearest stars will constitute the greatest adventure we Homo sapiens have ever attempted,” Marcy added. “This massive undertaking will require the cooperation and contribution from all major nations around world. In so doing, we will take our first tentative steps into the cosmic ocean and enhance our shared sense of purpose on this terrestrial shore.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Comments

Space

We were wrong-100 billion habitable Earth-like planets in our galaxy alone

Estimates by astronomers indicate that there could be more than 100 BILLION Earth-like worlds in the Milky Way that could be home to life. Think that’s a big number? According to astronomers,  there are roughly 500 billion galaxies in the known universe, which means there are around 50,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (5×1022) habitable planets. That’s of course if there’s just ONE universe.

In fact, just inside our Milky Way Galaxy experts believe are some 400 BILLION STARS, but this number may seem small as some astrophysicists believe that stars in our galaxy could figure the TRILLION. This means that the Milky Way alone could be home to more than 100 BILLION planets.

However, since astronomers aren’t able to see our galaxy from the outside, they can’t really know for sure the number of planets the Milky Way is home to. They can only provide estimates.

To do this, experts calculate our galaxy’s mass and calculate how much of that mass is composed of stars. Based on these calculations scientists believe our galaxy is home to at least 400 billion stars, but as I mentioned above, this number could drastically rise.

There are some calculations which suggest that the Milky Way is home on an average between 800 billion and 3.2 trillion planets, but there are some experts who believe the number could be as high as eight trillion.

Furthermore, if we take a look at what NASA has to say, well find out how the space agency believes there are at least 1,500 planets located within 50 light years from Earth. These conclusions are based on observations taken over a period of six years by the PLANET—Probing Lensing Anomalies NETwork—collaboration, founded in 1995. The study concluded that there are way more Earth-sized planets than Jupiter-sized worlds.

So much space, so little information.

In 2013, Dr. Phil Yock, from the department of physics at the University of Auckland said how: “Kepler finds Earth-sized planets that are quite close to their host stars, and astronomers estimate that there are around 17 billion such planets in the Milky Way. These worlds are hotter than our planet, although some could be of a comparable temperature (and  could, therefore, be habitable) if they are orbiting a cool star called a red dwarf.”

“Our proposal is to measure the number of Earth-mass planets orbiting stars at distances typically twice the Sun-Earth distance. Our planets will, therefore, be cooler than the Earth. By interpolating between the Kepler and MOA results, we should obtain a good estimate of the number of Earth-like, habitable planets in the Milky Way. We predict a number in the order of 100 billion.”

“Of course, it will be a long way from measuring this number to actually finding inhabited planets, but it will be a step along the way.”

The number seems to be increasing every year.

If we take a peek at the data provided by the Kepler space mission, we’ll find how astronomers believe approximately 40 BILLION Earth-sized planets orbiting habitable zones of Sun-like stars and red dwarfs in the Milky Way galaxy alone.

Since Kepler was launched in 2009, the space telescope has discovered a total of 4,034 potential alien planets, of which 2,335 are verified exoplanets.

Interestingly, some astronomers say that around 11 billion planets may be orbiting Sun-like Stars, while other believe this number is more like 100 billion.

In 2017 NASA made great progress in the search for alien planets. Their most noteworthy discovery was the solar system Trappist-1, home to SEVEN Earth-like planets who may even be home to alien life.

In June of 2017, NASA revealed a statement saying that they had discovered ten new planets outside of our solar system that are very likely of similar size and temperature as Earth and may even have life developed on their surface.

Source

Continue Reading

Space

Scientists Found 234 Alien Civilizations

Aliens are like buses, you spend ages waiting for one and then 234 come along at once. Or at least, that’s what two astronomers from the Laval University in Quebec are suggesting.

Ermanno Borra and his graduate student Eric Trottier have analyzed over 2.5 million stars and galaxies for pulses of light emitted at regular intervals and discovered it in 234 stars similar in size to our Sun. The team believes that alien civilizations are behind those signals.

The researchers looked at the Fourier Transform (FT) of the light spectrum. The FT is a mathematical tool that allows us to work out where the components of a signal come from. If the light is a milkshake, by using the FT you get the recipe.

The FT analysis has found periodic modulated components which, according to the scientists, are caused by the super quick light pulses (less than a trillionth of a second) generated by Extraterrestrial Intelligence (ETI).

In the paper, available from the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, they discard every other explanation such as instrumental effects, rotation of molecules, rapid stellar pulsations, and peculiar chemistry.

“We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an ETI signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

“The fact that they are only found in a very small fraction of stars within a narrow spectral range centered near the spectral type of the Sun is also in agreement with the ETI hypothesis.”

These superfast pulses will have to be generated by incredibly powerful lasers, like the one at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Interestingly, in previous publications Borra has stated that this area of astronomy is the least explored, which raises the question on why these aliens would all decide to communicate in such a complicated and energy-consuming way.

The researchers admit that although they believe aliens is the most likely explanation, this is yet to be confirmed.

The Stephen Hawking-backed project Breakthrough Listen will conduct follow-up observations of these 234 stars, but the team at UC Berkeley, where the project’s science program is based, invite people to be skeptical.

“The one in 10,000 objects with unusual spectra seen by Borra and Trottier are certainly worthy of additional study. However, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

It is too early to unequivocally attribute these purported signals to the activities of extraterrestrial civilizations,” the Breakthrough Listen team said in a statement.

Source iflscience.com

Continue Reading

Space

Don’t Panic but There’s an 11% Chance Elon Musk’s Tesla Is on a Collision Course With Earth

I guess 11% is fairly low but then again any percentage is still a chance…the risk of satellites and other launched objects crashing back to Earth with potentially deadly consequences are becoming too regular now and not to mention the natural threats we already face from asteroids, comets etc..

via Science Alert:

It’s the darnedest thing, guys. Remember that Tesla owned by Elon Musk that SpaceX cavalierly launched into space last week? Well, it turns out that might not be the last we see of it.

In fact, according to a new analysis of the Roadster’s orbital trajectory, that stylish hunk of red metal, rubber, ‘Starman’, and other cool stuff is on track to make a number of close encounters with Earth – and ultimately, one day, it could even hit us.

That’s the assessment of Canadian astrophysicist Hanno Rein from the University of Toronto Scarborough, who, with fellow researchers, ran the numbers on what the Tesla’s invisible highway through space might look like, given what we know about orbital dynamics.

“We have all the software ready, and when we saw the launch last week we thought, ‘Let’s see what happens.’” Rein told Science.

“So we ran the [Tesla’s] orbit forward for several million years.”

Over that epic expanse of time (and space), it’s fair to say that a lot of things could happen – and the further ahead we estimate, the fuzzier the picture becomes, given how many gravitational factors could affect the overall trajectory of the vehicle (and the second stage of the Falcon Heavy rocket, to which it remains attached).

Nonetheless, the team’s simulations suggest the Tesla’s elliptical orbit around the Sun – which sees it repeatedly cross the orbits of Mars, Earth, and Venus – will make for several close encounters with Earth in the future, the first of which is expected to take place in 2091.

Looking further ahead, the good news is the researchers don’t foresee any possible impacts with Earth for the next thousand years at least – but they’re not offering any kind of firm guarantee on that.

125-spacex-musk-tesla-earth-1

125-spacex-musk-tesla-earth-1

“The bottom line is we can’t predict with certainty what’s going to happen after just a few hundred years, because it’s a chaotic orbit and we can only draw conclusions in a statistical sense,” Rein told CBS News.

Still, across some 240 simulations tracing the long-term dynamical evolution of the car’s possible orbital destinies, “roughly 50 percent are going to hit a planet in the next few tens of millions of years,” Rein figures.

To the extent their approach can quantify risk of a collision, the researchers say there’s a 6 percent chance the Tesla will collide with Earth within the next million years, and a 2.5 percent chance Venus will get clipped over the same time frame.

As time goes on – looking 3 million years ahead – the probability of a collision with Earth increases to 11 percent.

Mars got off scot-free in all the test runs with no impacts, and only in one simulation did the Tesla collide with the Sun – sometime within the next 3 million years.

It’s worth pointing out that these calculations haven’t yet been peer-reviewed by other scientists, but as the researchers themselves freely acknowledge, there’s a great deal of mathematical unknowns in these orbital scenarios.

But given the Roadster is estimated to have a virtually immortal half-life of some 20 million years (as it ever-so-slowly erodes into nothingness in space), the team ultimately “expect collision probabilities with the Earth to be substantial”, they write in their paper.

In any case, if the worst happens, there’s really no need to be worried. Not now, nor much, much, much later.

“It will either burn up [in the atmosphere] or maybe one component will reach the surface,” Rein told Science.

“There is no risk to health and safety whatsoever.”

Phew.

The findings are available on the pre-print website arXiv.org.

PETER DOCKRILL
Science Alert

Continue Reading

Please Help SOUL:ASK By Donating Bitcoin

Total EUR:
BTC to send:
{{ btcToSendWidget }}
Send BTC to:
16FgK8SSMmRfDtihXCSGWX6CXg7FNib1Jy

Trending