Thursday, November 8, 2012

An Amazing Discovery

Today astronomers announced the discovery of a planet that could sustain life in forms that are similar to those that exist on Earth.  The planet known as "HD 40307g" was found in a star system named HD 40307 that is roughly 42 light years distance from our solar system.

This planet is defined as a "super-terran" planet as it is up to 7 times larger than the earth.  Despite it's size the planet is rocky in nature and has been found in an orbit around it's star that would support liquid water - the key ingredient in life.  Through the work of astronomers and physicists a total of 847 exoplanets (planets outside of our solar system) have been discovered to-date.  There are another 2320 possibilities that have been identified by NASA's orbital Kepler Space Telescope.  Of the 847 exoplanets confirmed to exist, only 7 have been identified as habitable.  Still with the small amount of our galaxy surveyed so far, the fact that 7 habitable planets have been identified speaks volumes.  This indicates that habitable planets like Earth are not oddities and in fact are relatively common.  Opportunities for life to have arisen or to arise in the future must therefore also be common.

 (Artist's rendition of the planet HD 40307g)

For more information on this amazing discovery please see one of the links below.

Planetary Habitable Laboratory

Fox News

Time: Space and Science

The fact that it is possible to find these planets that are so far away is an amazing feat of scientific achievement.  Telescopes that can peer trillions upon trillions of miles across the galaxy are not simply the kind that you set up in your backyard.  These are finely honed, massive pieces of equipment that generate terabytes of data that must be processed by supercomputers.  The most advanced of these telescopes is the Kepler Space Telescope.  Kepler was launched on March 7, 2009 and was placed into a heliocentric (around the sun as opposed to around earth) orbit far from Earth that allows for gravitational and light disturbances to be minimized. 

(Image of the Kepler Space Telescope)

Discoveries like this are simply amazing to me.  The fact that there is technology that allow us to see such vast distances and to determine the chemical makeup of a planet that far away is remarkable.  Eventually we will have the technology to determine if there are indicator gases like methane and oxygen in the planet's atmosphere that show the presence of life.  The technology to determine if there is intelligent life on these planets using radio technology is still not yet available to us.  Perhaps it will in time be available to us so that we could attempt to build a radio device to communicate with any alien species found.  The likelihood that we would ever be able to travel to one of these far-away planets is next to zero as with any imaginable technology it would take ten or hundreds of thousands of years to reach even the closest star.  Voyager I, the furthest made-man object from earth is just now leaving our solar system after a voyage of over 35 years.  I was 11 years old when this space craft began it's journey and it is still

This is just something that caught my attention today in my routine scan of websites and I wanted to write about it.

The weekend is almost here.  The weather in Colorado is supposed to be cold, snowy and not so good.  Friday night I am hoping to get us tickets to see the Cirque du Soleil show Quidam at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield.  Saturday my nephew is part of his high school play at Regis so we will be attending the 2PM showing of that.  Sunday is supposed to be the worst day of the weekend so my plan is to build a nice warm fire in the basement fireplace, turn on some football and spend the day cleaning and organizing the "craft room".  This is one of two rooms in the house that I still have a major cleaning job to do.  As I have organized and de-cluttered the entire house over the last year, I have used the craft room as the place for the more difficult stuff to deal with.  I have been working on this room on and off for the last several months but I really want to get it totally cleaned.  Sunday sounds like a perfect day to do this.

Zack is off of school tomorrow and is planning on having a bunch of friends over to spend the day with him.  I think I'll go and hide some where as it will be loud and boisterous I am certain.

We hope everyone has a great Friday ahead!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

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