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Astronomers Find 'super-earths'

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Astronomers find 'super-Earths'

- Trio of "super-Earths" orbiting nearby star

- Suggests Earth-like planets may be very common

- Planets discovered are bigger than Earth

RESEARCHERS today said they discovered a batch of three "super-Earths" orbiting a nearby star, and two other solar systems with small planets as well.

They said their findings, presented at a conference in France, suggest that Earth-like planets may be very common.

"Does every single star harbour planets and, if yes, how many?" asked Michel Mayor of Switzerland's Geneva Observatory.

"We may not yet know the answer but we are making huge progress towards it," Mr Mayor said in a tatement.

The trio of planets orbit a star slightly less massive than our Sun, 42 light-years away towards the southern Doradus and Pictor constellations.

A light-year is the distance light can travel in one year at a speed of 300,000km per second - or about 9.5 trillion kilometres.

The planets are bigger than Earth - one is 4.2 times the mass, one is 6.7 times and the third is 9.4 times.

They orbit their star at extremely rapid speeds - one whizzing around in just four days, compared with Earth's 365 days, one taking 10 days and the slowest taking 20 days.

Mayor and colleagues used the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher or HARPS, a telescope at La Silla observatory in Chile, to find the planets.

More than 270 so-called exoplanets have been found. Most are giants, resembling Jupiter or Saturn. Smaller planets closer to the size of Earth are far more difficult to spot.

None can be imaged directly at such distances but can be spotted indirectly using radio waves or, in the case of HARPS, spectrographic measurements. As a planet orbits, it makes the star wobble very slightly and this can be measured.

"With the advent of much more precise instruments such as the HARPS spectrograph ... we can now discover smaller planets, with masses between 2 and 10 times the Earth's mass," said Stephane Udry, who also worked on the study.

The team also said they found a planet 7.5 times the mass of Earth orbiting the star HD 181433 in 9.5 days. This star also has a Jupiter-like planet that orbits every three years.

Another solar system has a planet 22 times the mass of Earth, orbiting every four days, and a Saturn-like planet with a three-year period.

"Clearly these planets are only the tip of the iceberg," said Mr Mayor.

"The analysis of all the stars studied with HARPS shows that about one third of all solar-like stars have either super-Earth or Neptune-like planets with orbital periods shorter than 50 days."

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23873...5011761,00.html

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I decided to post this as i find astronomy and life on other planets to be a fascinating topic. I honestly believe that within my lifetime we will find life on other planets. It may only be single celled organisms but i do believe that it exists as the bulding blocks of life (atleast on earth) are far too common for life to have only been created on 1 planet in the entire universe. Life is out there and all we need is the technology to find it and abit of luck aswell.

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[

I decided to post this as i find astronomy and life on other planets to be a fascinating topic. I honestly believe that within my lifetime we will find life on other planets. It may only be single celled organisms but i do believe that it exists as the bulding blocks of life (atleast on earth) are far too common for life to have only been created on 1 planet in the entire universe. Life is out there and all we need is the technology to find it and abit of luck aswell.

I only hope that life can still be found on this planet by the end of mine.

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Astronomy is definitely interesting, so thanks Ykick. Finding life on other planets might happen but I think it's hard to say how likely it is because no one knows how it started here or how finely tuned the conditions on a planet have to be for live to evolve. It's a fascinating thing though. Also I wonder how we would discover life on other planets if, as is most likely, it's just bacteria-like stuff.

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There is probably life on other planets. And we will almost certainly find out nothing about it in our lifetimes. Waste of time.

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Hmm, interesting. Parallel universes fascinate me too. I wonder if somewhere in space there's a guy with lots of hair also struggling with a blue and yellow sh!t box?

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Hmm, interesting. Parallel universes fascinate me too. I wonder if somewhere in space there's a guy with lots of hair also struggling with a blue and yellow sh!t box?

Highly unlikely. A civilization like that would be so advanced as not to need two brows but one. I'd say that such a civilization should be more advanced than ours. Perhaps 6/10ths of a second more advanced than ours.

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I only hope that life can still be found on this planet by the end of mine.

Couldn't agree more.

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I only hope that life can still be found on this planet by the end of mine.

By the end of your what? :D

I'm sure there's plenty of life there; scientist could write whole theses on it :D

Edited by Meanioni

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Highly unlikely. A civilization like that would be so advanced as not to need two brows but one. I'd say that such a civilization should be more advanced than ours. Perhaps 6/10ths of a second more advanced than ours.

:lol:

I just hope they don't find oil there.

Should we organise a TF1 day trip there? Andres could drive the bus, Paul could do us all a packed lunch whilst Ben can be the toilet attendent.

Oooh, please, let's.

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:lol:

Should we organise a TF1 day trip there? Andres could drive the bus, Paul could do us all a packed lunch whilst Ben can be the toilet attendent.

Oooh, please, let's.

I rather use bottles and cardboard boxes!

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What if these more advanced civilisations are not friendly ?!

I say let's just keep out heads low for about a couple million years, then go find other intelligent life.

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I say let's just keep out heads low for about a couple million years, then go find other intelligent life.

We've got to find it on our own planet first :D

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We've got to find it on our own planet first :D

I only hope you didn't join TF1 with that in mind :P

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What if these more advanced civilisations are not friendly ?!

Send Alonso there for '09.

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Pah! Not available for a Mac :(

Ahhh..I guess I should have put 'Astronomy lovers (who run Windows) rejoice!' ;)

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Pah! Not available for a Mac :(

They called you an anorak, an ANORAK!!! Not a mac, that was a completely different arrest! :lol:

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Mac sux, I cant open tf1 using mac.

That's not a Mac problem, that's a problem with your browser, ISP, settings, etc...

I can do everything perfectly with a Mac, and do it better than I do on Windows XP (which I'm sadly using right now).

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