Phone Home

Astronomers have found a rocky world orbiting a star about 15 light years from our own corner of the universe. With apparently about twice earth’s diameter, and about seven and a half times the mass, it’s the smallest extra-solar planet yet discovered.

“We keep pushing the limits of what we can detect, and we’re getting closer and closer to finding Earths,” said team member Steven Vogt from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

That’s boggling enough. But what I had somehow missed is that in the ten years that scientists have been spotting extra-solar planets, they’ve found 150 of them. That’s more than once a month. Makes my mind just reel: Every month, humanity finds another planet around a distant star. Every single month.

This entry was posted in A Fistful Of Euros, Life and tagged by Doug Merrill. Bookmark the permalink.

About Doug Merrill

Freelance journalist based in Tbilisi, following stints in Atlanta, Budapest, Munich, Warsaw and Washington. Worked for a German think tank, discovered it was incompatible with repaying US student loans. Spent two years in financial markets. Bicycled from Vilnius to Tallinn. Climbed highest mountains in two Alpine countries (the easy ones, though). American center-left, with strong yellow dog tendencies. Arrived in the Caucasus two weeks before its latest war.

5 thoughts on “Phone Home

  1. The place to find orbiting objects is behind the sun. Think about it. If we are from a distant galaxy, have had to leave because our sun is burning out, and have been able to observe the wars on earth, why not just park ourselves in a place where we won’t be observed, and enjoy this star for as long as we need it.

    It is very easy to put our craft into orbit exactly opposite the earth, on the other side of the sun, and as close or as far from the sun as we would like (to duplicate the heat intensity, and rotation cycle), similar to our original systems. Actually, there are several orbiting visitors that are enjoying this solar system. Why bother alerting earth’s inhabitants of our existence when they are fighting each other most of time.

    This message is the first from the Intergalatic Union (IU), and a suggestion that you earth people should attempt to work out your problems. Your women look really attractive. Our mating connectors may be too long.

  2. Thanks, Ray. Better hurry, though, someone/something may have already beat you to it. Careful of the side effects, too.

  3. The place to find orbiting objects is behind the sun. Think about it. If we are from a distant galaxy, have had to leave because our sun is burning out, and have been able to observe the wars on earth, why not just park ourselves in a place where we won’t be observed, and enjoy this star for as long as we need it.

    Because you don’t care about the primitives on SolIII.

    It is very easy to put our craft into orbit exactly opposite the earth, on the other side of the sun, and as close or as far from the sun as we would like

    No, you need to use your engines to keep station if you don’t match Earth’s orbit.

  4. The behind-the-sun thing is interesting.

    For quite a while, probably about since Ceres was discovered, astronomers theorised about the possibility of there being an object at the Earth-180 point; it’d have the same period, if it was at the same distance.

    Unfortunately, this doesn’t quite hold. The Earth’s orbit is (very, very) slightly inclined, and slightly more elliptical; as such, over a period of time, there isn’t a permanently obscured point directly behind the sun. (This was addressed in the Sagan/Shklovsky book, so I think it’s been a solved problem for a few decades now)

    So if there was anything big there, we’d have noticed it – eclipse photographs show up this kind of problem well.

    As far as smaller objects go, the opposite point isn’t gravitationally stable; the stable points are sixty degrees ahead and behind us in orbit. If it was there, then gravitational pertubations would tend to mean it would “fall out” of position, and wind up at one of the stable points. Not sure of the timescale for this, mind you.

  5. I’m personally glad that SETI is listening for signs of intelligent life.

    I do not now support global radio silence (so they can’t find us), but it might be a good idea.