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Planets Like Earth May Be the Rule, Not the Exception based on new research

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posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 02:05 PM
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If predictions made by the new research described below are correct a planet similar to our Earth quite likely orbits one of our closest neighboring stars.

Once thought rare, Earths may be very common.

I've seen a number of articles on this, and checked ATS to see if anyone had posted anything about it. I'd have gotten to this sooner but have been busy with schoolwork.

New research using data from NASA's Kepler spacecraft and the application of the Titus-Bode Law has predicted that warm, wet, temperate rocky terrestrial planets like Earth may actually be far more common than anyone would have imagined.

If observations confirm the very specific predictions made by the researchers then we will have another tool with which to make discoveries of very interesting planets.

And if these specific predicted planets are confirmed then statistically it would mean almost every star in the galaxy has between 1 and 3 small planets in its habitable or "goldilocks" zone where liquid water can exist on the surface and complex chemistry can take place.



Furthermore it would suggest our Earth may have plenty of nearby neighbors just like it and our galaxy may be filled with more M-class planets than even Star Trek imagined!





ANIMATION: Our Neighborhood out to 33 Light Years Contains 260 known systems and a total of 322 nearby stars - New research suggest most may have a planet similar to our Earth

And if we do in fact have plenty of nearby neighbors then these worlds will likely be the first ones we get detailed spectra and eventually images of with future space telescopes. By studying the light from it's parent sun, reflected off of these planet's surfaces, we may even be able to detect complex life since life both alters the atmosphere of a planet and the color of its surface.



They may also be the first ones humanity visits in the future.

Here's an excerpt detailing the research: (emphasis added)


Most stars in the Milky Way have between one and three planets in the habitable zone, the region where worlds can support liquid surface water, scientists from the Australian National University and the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen report in a new study.

By analyzing the thousands of exoplanets discovered in our galaxy thus far, the researchers have calculated the probability for the number of stars in the Milky Way that might have planets in the habitable zone. As they reported in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the calculations show that billions of those stars could have planets in the habitable zone.

Based on information collected by NASA’s Kepler satellite, astronomers have found about 1,000 planets around stars in the Milky Way, as well as approximately 3,000 other potential worlds, the study authors explained. Many of those stars have planetary systems of two to six planets found to date, but they might also have more planets that cannot be detected using Kepler.

Kepler is best suited for finding large planets that orbit relatively close to their stars, and since those that orbit at that distance would be too hot to support life, the researchers used a modified version of the Titius-Bode law: a 250-year-old method technique that uses numbers to show the relationships between planetary orbital periods and their distance from the Sun.

The law, which correctly calculated the position of Uranus before it was discovered, states that there is a certain ratio between the orbital periods of planets in a solar system. The ratio between the orbital period of the first and second is the same that the ratio between the second and third and so on.

Knowing how long it takes for some planets to orbit around a star can allow scientists to figure out how long it takes for other planets to orbit, and can be used to calculate the position of those worlds in the planetary system It can also be used to detect “missing” planets in the sequence.

“We decided to use this method to calculate the potential planetary positions in 151 planetary systems, where the Kepler satellite had found between 3 and 6 planets,” Steffen Kjær Jacobsen, a PhD student in the research group Astrophysics and Planetary Science at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, explained in a statement.

“In 124 of the planetary systems, the Titius-Bode law fit with the position of the planets,” added Jacobsen. “Using T-B’s law we tried to predict where there could be more planets further out in the planetary systems. But we only made calculations for planets where there is a good chance that you can see them with the Kepler satellite.”

In 27 of the 151 planetary systems, observed planets did not initially fit the T-B law, prompting the researchers to place planets into the pattern for where missing worlds would be located. They added those planets between already identified ones, and added one additional planet beyond the outermost known one in each system to predict a total of 228 total planets in the 151 systems.

“We then made a priority list with 77 planets in 40 planetary systems to focus on because they have a high probability of making a transit, so you can see them with Kepler,” Jacobsen said. “We have encouraged other researchers to look for these. If they are found, it is an indication that the theory stands up.”

He and his colleagues evaluated the number of planets in the habitable zone based on the extra planets added to each of the 151 systems, and came up with between one and three planets in the habitable zone for each planetary system. They followed that up by taking an additional look at 31 planetary systems where planets had already been found in the habitable zone, or where just one additional planet was needed to meet the requirements.

“In these 31 planetary systems that were close to the habitable zone, our calculations showed that there was an average of two planets in the habitable zone,” Jacobsen said. “According to the statistics and the indications we have, a good share of the planets in the habitable zone will be solid planets where there might be liquid water and where life could exist.”

If the findings are then applied further outward into space, it would mean that there would be billions of stars with planets in the habitable zone in the Milky Way alone, he added. The study authors now hope that other scientists will review the Kepler data for the 40 planetary systems they predict should be well placed for observations conducted using the satellite.


Science's true power is in its ability to make predictions which can be either refuted or confirmed. So now we await researchers to confirm the missing planets the Titus-Bode exoplanet research would indicate should exist.

We should not have to wait long for this to happen (less than a year by my estimate) because the light curve data already exists for the stars in question and it just needs to be re-examined with a finer tooth comb to tease out the planets predicted above.

Buckle up, it could be an interesting year. I'll try to keep you posted on where this goes & other related news.

edit on 21-3-2015 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)




posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 02:27 PM
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I always love your threads


It's certainly a very exciting time to be living in. I can't imagine telling my 1st grade teacher in the 80's that a craft like Kepler would shrink our corner of the universe down for all of us to see. Very very exciting



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 02:33 PM
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Awesome thread. Wish I could give an extra star, just for the LCARS pic



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 02:35 PM
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a reply to: JadeStar

S&F for the info!

Fascinating indeed



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 02:45 PM
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Are we talking life in general, or advance lifeforms?


Why would an earth be the rule? One must realize the more discriminators we add the less there will be to fit those discriminators. If I say planets, that is a rule...If I say a planet within the Goldilocks range, around a single G type star, within a gravity range, with a liquid core, has water, etc. I can't say that would be a rule...



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 02:47 PM
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a reply to: JadeStar

Can they detect whether these planets in the Goldilocks zone, have a metal core and magnetic shielding against radiation?



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 02:56 PM
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Boy, I wish we had warp drive already.

Humanities future may be very exciting as long as we don't cause ourselves to go extinct before we develop the technologies which will allow us to explore the universe.



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 03:04 PM
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originally posted by: DuckforcoveR
I always love your threads


It's certainly a very exciting time to be living in. I can't imagine telling my 1st grade teacher in the 80's that a craft like Kepler would shrink our corner of the universe down for all of us to see. Very very exciting


It is super exciting and I get goosebumps when I imagine what is ahead knowing the projects, telescopes and other research under development or proposed and at the thought that I may be in the middle of it all someday well after I graduate (knocks on wood and keeps her nose to the grindstone').

The ironic thing about you thinking about what it would be like to tell your 1st grade teacher that in the 80s is that Kepler was first proposed by Bill Borucki to NASA in the 1980s but they turned it down because it was deemed too speculative (not one planet had been discovered around another star despite 30 years of looking) and the technology seemed too far away because it would require very stable, high resolution cameras and digital to analog converters that were also low cost so enough of them could be put together to make up a very wide field, ultra precise digital camera.

That seemed far fetched in 1984.

From the history of the Kepler Mission page at NASA:


A paper by Borucki and Summers (1984) corrected the detection probability in the paper and pointed out that ground-based observations of at least 13,000 stars simultaneously should be sufficient to detect jovian-size planets, but that the detection of Earth-size planets would require space-based observations. Limitations to the detectability of planets by stellar variations was recognized (Borucki et al, 1985)


In reality the technology to do Kepler would come into existence a mere 3 years after the 1985 paper and first proposal when the first low cost, high resolution CCDs began to be produced in 1988 as a result of the rise in popularity of camcorders (and believe it or not the burgeoning video porn industry's demand for cheaper, better cameras).

So....Kepler probably could have been built and flown in the early 1990s instead of 2009 had it been approved the first time. But that's not all...

Kepler was turned down a total of 5 times by NASA for various reasons before eventually being developed in the late 1990s with the prototype assembled in 1999 and the actual spacecraft flown in 2009 after narrowly escaping a huge slash of NASA's astrophysics budget in 2006.

Persistence pays off.

Personal note: I saw Bill Borucki almost break down in tears while recounting the history of the proposals and eventual development and launch of Kepler during the 2nd Kepler Science Conference. As he reached the end of his talk the room was silent. You could hear a pin drop as the gravity of what he and his colleagues had enabled began to hit him.

This seasoned, elder scientist was overcome by the emotion of the moment and the honor and award he was being presented with. The slide on the projector which had been showing the various experiments, testbeds and prototypes which lead to Kepler now showed the acknowledgement of his years of work when he was invited to the White House.

He went from a young scientist with a dream which was repeatedly pushed back, denied, postponed to someone who the president of the United States had singled out to shake his hand and highlight his years of work:



People often think of scientists as, cold, emotionless, one-dimensional people because that is how we are portrayed often in TV and movies and most of our work requires a mental discipline and adherence to logic and reason in order to be effective in our research.

But as Bill Borucki's eyes began to glisten towards the end of his story in a room full of astronomers, astrophysicists, planetologists, and theoreticians if one looked around the room dry eyes were scarce.
edit on 21-3-2015 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 03:16 PM
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originally posted by: Autorico
Awesome thread. Wish I could give an extra star, just for the LCARS pic


You're welcome that LCARS pic was created by the Planetary Habitability Lab at the University of Puerto Rico in 2011 (check the "stardate" in the lower right corner).

It was an playful, eye-catching entertaining way to make an infographic which contains actual real science: the habitable exoplanet classification scale the lab developed which, like its fictional counterpart defines planets within the same temperature range as the Earth as "M-class planets."

Life, imitating art.

Spock and Gene Roddenberry would be proud.

edit on 21-3-2015 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 03:24 PM
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a reply to: JadeStar

Brilliant thread, if this is put into the drake equation the likely hood of other sentient races obviously increases as it does also if we factor in the possibility of panspermia.

Still we have not heard anything (that we the public know of) by way of alien radio wave communications, maybe something happed in the local neighbourhood a long time ago and it is silent for a reason?.



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 03:37 PM
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originally posted by: Grimpachi
Boy, I wish we had warp drive already.

Humanities future may be very exciting as long as we don't cause ourselves to go extinct before we develop the technologies which will allow us to explore the universe.


The Universe is teeming with life.

If we did cause ourselves to go extinct, the Universe would
not cease to produce life forms of equal and greater potential.

Either we grow spiritually and ascend to a higher state of being,
or Humanity will go the way of Dinosauria.

The wise course of action moving forward is to decentralize
our governments, and allow groups of people local autonomy
(both here on Earth and other off-worlds outposts).

If Humanity become monolithic then we are merely infecting
the Milky Way like an alien virus. Indeed, that is what we are.
Earth is an invader of the Milky Way from our home system
the Sagittarius Dwarf galaxy! viewzone2.com...

We would seem we are the invading aliens.










edit on 21-3-2015 by wasaka because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 03:40 PM
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originally posted by: Xtrozero
Are we talking life in general, or advance lifeforms?


No one knows yet. And this research does not address life directly other than to state that if the predicted planets are confirmed then the places where life similar to Earth can develop are very common in our galaxy and probably the universe in general.



Why would an earth be the rule?


Because planets the size of the Earth are more common that planets the size of Jupiter. The smaller something is in general, the more common it is.

What this study seems to be predicting is that small planets like Earth should exist in the temperate zone around almost every star and not just one, but probably two on average and in some cases three.

(Our solar system may have been slightly unlucky there due to Venus being formed just a little too close to the sun with more carbon dioxide than made up the early Earth).



One must realize the more discriminators we add the less there will be to fit those discriminators. If I say planets, that is a
rule...


Yes because planets -are- the rule. They are byproduct of star formation. In just about every case where there are stars, there will be planets.


If I say a planet within the Goldilocks range around a single G type star, within a gravity range, with a liquid core, has water, etc. I can't say that would be a rule...



The research I highlighted in the OP specifically deals with the first part of that statement.

They used the Titus-Bode Law and Kepler data to predict missing planets in the systems Kepler discovered. In the majority of those cases their research indicates that there should be a smallish planet in the Goldilocks range of not just G-type stars but K-types, F-types, etc.

Other types of stars different than our G-type Sun also have "Goldilocks" zones, they just vary by distance and width depending on the type of star:



As for gravity, that is a function of planet density and we already knew from Kepler data and other exoplanet research that planets with the same or similar density to Earth are common. One of the first planets Kepler detected had a density almost identical to Earth but it orbited far too close to its star and well outside the Goldilocks zone. It was an important discovery because it showed planets similar to Earth's density (and thus Earth's gravity) were not rare.

That said, I see no reason why life could not evolve under the right conditions on a planet with twice Earth's gravity or half of it for that matter.

As for water, we know from studying protoplanetary discs (discs around young stars which are forming planets) that water is common in the planet formation process so there is no reason to assume Earth is rare in that regard either. Even in our own solar system we're finding many places where water exists under the icy surface of moons (and minor planets like Ceres).

Water is one of the most common molecules in the universe because it is made up of two atoms of the most common element (Hydrogen) and one atom of the 6th most common element (Oxygen).

Planetary formation models show liquid water will exist on the surface of any terrestrial planet orbiting the habitable zone of the majority of stars if given a similar rocky/silicate composition and density as the Earth. (Terrestrial sized high carbon composition planets will be dry but they are thought to be rare. Also there is some debate on whether planets in the habitable zone of small red dwarf stars will be able to either accumulate or retain a lot of water due to various factors).

So in summation, given that it is already know water is common both in the universe in general and during planet formation in particular and that planets similar to Earth's density are common in our galaxy, then if they confirm the predictions their research indicates (that just about every star should have two small rocky planets in the habitable/goldilocks zone) it's safe to say that planets like the Earth could be the rule rather than the exception since on average just about every star would have two.
edit on 21-3-2015 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)

edit on 21-3-2015 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 03:55 PM
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a reply to: JadeStar

interesting news , and presentation

so what bearing on the drake equation would these new statistic's have ?

funbox



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 04:07 PM
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originally posted by: LABTECH767
a reply to: JadeStar

Brilliant thread, if this is put into the drake equation the likely hood of other sentient races obviously increases as it does also if we factor in the possibility of panspermia.


Correct. But that possibility of panspermia would only exist within that planetary system (given more than one planet in the habitable zone) since material could be transported by meteor impact such as happens between the Earth and Mars.

Before this research this is where the only known factors of the Drake Equation stood and how we know them:




See ATS: The Drake Equation - Illustrated and Clarified (INFOGRAPHIC) for more on the above infographic.

HOWEVER: If the research in the OP turns out to be true, then ηe goes from being around 0.40 to around 2.0 and that is a massive difference.


Still we have not heard anything (that we the public know of) by way of alien radio wave communications,


I wouldn't read too much into that. It's not like we've been looking long nor hard. Most SETI experiments over the last 60 years have been temporary in nature (they'd look for a couple weeks or months and then do it again the next year if they were lucky). Such searches were also limited in both area of coverage and frequency range. It was only recently that we've begun scanning the skies 24/7 but even then this is the amount of sky and frequency space all of the major SETI projects have examined:





maybe something happed in the local neighbourhood a long time ago and it is silent for a reason?.



Or, maybe the conditions for life may exist on a lot of planets in the neighborhood but for some unknown reason it has not developed or is only microbial in nature.

Or, maybe multicellular life might be common but advanced life may not be common.

Or, maybe advanced life is common but their technology is not yet sophisticated enough to detect or they do not build things which SETI would easily detect. I say this because we could not at present time, have detected any of the societies on Earth before electronics were commonplace. However in the distant future we may have massive space telescope arrays which could image planets around nearby stars to the point where if they had anything like the large structures of the ancient world they would be visible.

Or, maybe advanced, technological life is common but their technology is too advanced for SETI to easily detect and it is we who are like a baby in a crib surrounded by adults.

There are a lot of possible explanations for the "eerie silence" even if we do live in a populated neighborhood. The first step to learning more is to find out how populated that neighborhood could potentially be and that is why the research in the original post and NASA's upcoming TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) will be very important. TESS will be like Kepler but it will do a survey of all the closest and brightest stars for transiting exoplanets:




edit on 21-3-2015 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 04:14 PM
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originally posted by: funbox
a reply to: JadeStar

interesting news , and presentation

so what bearing on the drake equation would these new statistic's have ?

funbox





See above. If it turns out to be true then instead of the fraction of stars having Earthlike planets being around 40 percent then just about every star would have at least one and as many as three for an average of two.

So eta Earth (ηE) goes from being 0.40 to 2.0



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 04:22 PM
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a reply to: wasaka

I am not sure what invoked your response.


I thought I was clear about the future being very bright for "humanity" if we make it to the point of exploring the universe.


If we die out that will have zero impact on other life forms in the universe or their existence or non-existence.

I was speaking of our future, not others. It will just be a real shame if we don't get to that point.



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 04:38 PM
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The Earth has a moon and Plate Tectonincs. Possibly none of those other planets have the same.

Consequently, life on those other planets will be very rudimentary, unless the ETs have been up to something.

Higher forms of life on a planet with no bi-daily tides or constantly rearranging landmasses would suggest space traveling aliens.



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 04:55 PM
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a reply to: JadeStar

makes asking if anyone is out their a redundant question really


now what's the probability of some interstellar goo , finding a really hot cup of tea, and making the leap ?

any ideas ?


funbox



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 05:11 PM
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a reply to: Grimpachi

What makes you think we don't already have warp drive?



posted on Mar, 21 2015 @ 05:21 PM
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a reply to: JadeStar

S&F from me as well!

It is interesting how we are being slowly indoctrinated to the existence of intelligent life out "there" and new "earth" like planets.

Do you believe in the existence of extraterrestrial and/or intra-dimensional lifeforms?




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