Thursday, February 3, 2011

holy blue balls!

Whenever someone makes the mistake of asking me about exoplanets, I go on about Gliese 581 for hours. It's a star, only 20 light-years away, with potentially Earth-like planets orbiting it. That's "planets" with an "s" because there are several of them. Each year, we seem to discover more planets around the same damn star, that are even more Earth-like. And there must be anywhere from millions to billions of planetary systems just like it, in our galaxy. We only know about this one because it's close enough to detect. And our planet-detecting technology has been steadily improving. We're going to start seeing more of these ridiculous multi-Earth-like systems very soon. That's the main reason I go on about Gliese 581. There's other wacky shit about it, but the main thing is that it's a taste of things to come.

And those things are coming. Kepler is a space telescope designed exactly for this job, and it hit the jackpot.
"The number of planet candidates identified by Kepler to-date [is] 1,235. Of these, 68 are approximately Earth-size; 288 are super-Earth-size..."
"Of the 54 new planet candidates found in the habitable zone, five are near Earth-sized."
"There will be a before and after Kepler Era in astronomy."
Dun dun dun.

"New era" statements like that are usually ass smoke, but this guy's right. We've been discovering exoplanets since 1995, but those have been gigantic, very unEarthish ones. Now, shit's getting real. This is the stuff we've really been waiting for. Astronomy, science fiction, and anyone with any sense has had a centuries-old case of blue balls for, uh, okay, I think this is rock bottom. Blog's over.

No comments:

Post a Comment