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A Solar System That May Be Teeming With Life Is Discovered

rhinefire

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Astronomers
have found
a solar system where three planets slightly larger than
Earth are in the habitable zone around the star. This means the temperatures on
the worlds could be such that water exists in a liquid state.

This is the first time as many as three worlds have been found in the
so-called Goldilocks zone around a single start, where it may not be too hot or
too cold for life to exist.

The star, Gliese
667C
, is smaller than the Sun with only about 30 percent of its
mass, so the planets are closer in.

In a publicly available research paper on the
find (see .pdf) astronomers estimate the masses of the three
planets in the habitable zone to be:


  • c: 3.86 Earth masses
  • f: 1.94 Earth masses
  • e: 2.68 Earth masses

A schematic of the seven-planet system around Gliese 667C is shown below.


(European Southern Observatory)


Astronomers estimate that planet “c” would receive about the same amount of
solar energy from its star as Earth does from the Sun, with planets “f”
receiving half, and “e” receiving about one-third.

Of course the habitability of these planets depends upon whether they are
gaseous, like Saturn, or rocky, like Earth. In addition, they must have
favorable atmospheres. Specifically, the outer planet (e) must have more
greenhouse gases than those on Earth to sustain life as we know it. Of the
potential habitability of these worlds, the European astronomers say:


If not gaseous, these planets contain substantial water content, which is a
primary requirement for life. In conclusion, these planets could be
terrestrial-like with significant water content and hence are potentially
habitable.
In addition to each of these planets, there are likely moons around them as
well that might be suitable for life.

What’s really exciting is that, as astronomers examine the systems around
distant stars more closely, they’re like to find many more tightly packed
planetary systems such as this one. Whenever our species masters interstellar
travel, boundless wonders are now certain to exist.

It’s enough to make one dream of the stars.
 

Oftencold

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This all reminds me of the long search for the Kingdom of Prester John.

People wanted badly to believe it existed. Supposedly mariners reported glimpses of towers rising over distant horizons. But it was all myth.


There is no evidence at all of extraterrestrial life. But people think it just has to be there, because we can't be special, after all.

Myself, I doubt that anything of the sort will ever be found.
 

Sherman123

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This all reminds me of the long search for the Kingdom of Prester John.

People wanted badly to believe it existed. Supposedly mariners reported glimpses of towers rising over distant horizons. But it was all myth.


There is no evidence at all of extraterrestrial life. But people think it just has to be there, because we can't be special, after all.

Myself, I doubt that anything of the sort will ever be found.

There is an extraordinary amount of circumstantial evidence that would augur in favor of their being extraterrestrial life. For it not to exist would be mathematically extraordinary and would force an existential reevaluation of what our Universe actually is.
 

specklebang

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There is an extraordinary amount of circumstantial evidence that would augur in favor of their being extraterrestrial life. For it not to exist would be mathematically extraordinary and would force an existential reevaluation of what our Universe actually is.

It should amaze me that with quadrillions of stars and quintillions of planets, that some think we are unique. The conflict can only be from religion - you want to believe that 5800 years ago god decided to pick this rock and create "his own image". Since god couldn't possibly want to do this anywhere else, we must be alone in the universe:roll:
 

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Beam me up Scotty.

Let's do some exploring!
 

mbig

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Beam me up Scotty.

Let's do some exploring!
At 22 Light years away, maybe we will some day. (Gliese 667 )
That's incredibly close in the scheme of things.
Which is one reason it was scoped well I suppose
 
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Oftencold

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There is an extraordinary amount of circumstantial evidence that would augur in favor of their being extraterrestrial life. For it not to exist would be mathematically extraordinary and would force an existential reevaluation of what our Universe actually is.

Since we really don't know why there's life here, we really have no way of making a serious prediction about whether it exists elsewhere. Besides, just about every complex thing that ever happens is mathematically extraordinary. Think of a oxygen molecule in your room right now. Now imagine trying to predict with mathematical certainty where it will be a year from now.

Again though there is no evidence for extraterrestrial life. It very well may exist. If i take the stance that it probably doesn't though, all of the empirical support accrues to me.
 

Lord of Planar

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Since we really don't know why there's life here, we really have no way of making a serious prediction about whether it exists elsewhere. Besides, just about every complex thing that ever happens is mathematically extraordinary. Think of a oxygen molecule in your room right now. Now imagine trying to predict with mathematical certainty where it will be a year from now.

Again though there is no evidence for extraterrestrial life. It very well may exist. If i take the stance that it probably doesn't though, all of the empirical support accrues to me.

You can bet we have high gain receivers aimed there to see if there are any radio emissions that have modulation.
 

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Since we really don't know why there's life here, we really have no way of making a serious prediction about whether it exists elsewhere. Besides, just about every complex thing that ever happens is mathematically extraordinary. Think of a oxygen molecule in your room right now. Now imagine trying to predict with mathematical certainty where it will be a year from now.

Again though there is no evidence for extraterrestrial life. It very well may exist. If i take the stance that it probably doesn't though, all of the empirical support accrues to me.

Hypothesis are often based upon circumstantial evidence and empirical measurements from different but related models. We have come to some fairly good conclusions about what is necessary for the formation of life and we've made great strides in attempting to deconstruct abiogenesis and the like. Extrapolating from this it becomes easier to form circumstantial evidence for their being life in the Universe, in fact it becomes virtually impossible that it doesn't exist. People consistently fail to grasp how large our Solar System is let alone our Galaxy, stellar cluster, or the Universe. It isn't about making predictions of what a particular molecule will 'do' it's the probalistics behind quadrillions of planets and environments over billions of years spread across billions of star systems.
 

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There are more than 300 billion stars in our Milky Way alone with more than 400 billion and perhaps as many as a trillion planets, of which there may be close to 100 billion in the habitable zones. There are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the Universe, perhaps more than a trillion.

The idea that we are the only ball of rock in all of existence that has had inorganic compounds come together in a thermal vent (or by some other mechanism) to form the materials for a cell, like amino acids, is ludicrous. Especially since we've known for more than half a century that you can turn inorganic compounds into organic ones like the precursors to proteins which is a precursor material for cells.
 
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ZapFinch42

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Since we really don't know why there's life here, we really have no way of making a serious prediction about whether it exists elsewhere. Besides, just about every complex thing that ever happens is mathematically extraordinary. Think of a oxygen molecule in your room right now. Now imagine trying to predict with mathematical certainty where it will be a year from now.

Again though there is no evidence for extraterrestrial life. It very well may exist. If i take the stance that it probably doesn't though, all of the empirical support accrues to me.


The empirical evidence can pretty safely say life is here because it was an inevitability. The particulars of how the first few building blocks arrived remain a bit of a mystery but that is an important distinction.

Another important point to be made here is that while you are correct in saying that life sprouting up at any given moment at any given point in the galaxy is mathematically insignificant, keep in mind just how large the galaxy is. Also keep in mind that life, once it arrives, is pretty darn difficult to get rid of, giving us a large window of time to locate it. Add in the fact that we are on an average if slightly small rocky planet orbiting a fairly common G-type main sequence star. And the inevitability of life elsewhere begins to look pretty certain. Like a previous poster said, at this point, if it were to turn out that life isn't out there it would shake the foundations of our current knowledge. That isn't to say it couldn't happen, wild things happen in the world of science, it is just tremendously unlikely.

Now as for intelligent life well there we still have some major questions, not the least of which is Fermi's Paradox: If life is as likely as it seems to be then it should be fairly common. If life is so common than even if the chances of life becoming intelligent is very small, it would stand to reason that there are other space-faring civilizations. If that is the is the case, WHERE ARE THEY?
 

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My personal answer to the where are they question is: give it time. Even if you assume that civilizations have developed as yet undiscovered methods for safely and easily approaching travel at the speed of light and/or that they have perfected generational travel or perhaps defeated biological death...you are still talking about a gargantuan amount of space to explore. Even if you could travel FTL (somehow) you are still talking about an inexpressibly large amount of space to explore. For all we known several thousand civilizations have had probes blink into our solar system only to blink out again after a few weeks or months or years and how would we know? Until a few thousand years ago we weren't even really around to 'make contact'. I believe life is extremely abundant in the Universe but our tools for detecting it are primitive (we only learned how to discover planets by light shifts within the past decade or so).

I think if there is cellular life in our solar system we will discover it before this century is out.
 

specklebang

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Since we really don't know why there's life here, we really have no way of making a serious prediction about whether it exists elsewhere. Besides, just about every complex thing that ever happens is mathematically extraordinary. Think of a oxygen molecule in your room right now. Now imagine trying to predict with mathematical certainty where it will be a year from now.

Again though there is no evidence for extraterrestrial life. It very well may exist. If i take the stance that it probably doesn't though, all of the empirical support accrues to me.

My personal answer to the where are they question is: give it time. Even if you assume that civilizations have developed as yet undiscovered methods for safely and easily approaching travel at the speed of light and/or that they have perfected generational travel or perhaps defeated biological death...you are still talking about a gargantuan amount of space to explore. Even if you could travel FTL (somehow) you are still talking about an inexpressibly large amount of space to explore. For all we known several thousand civilizations have had probes blink into our solar system only to blink out again after a few weeks or months or years and how would we know? Until a few thousand years ago we weren't even really around to 'make contact'. I believe life is extremely abundant in the Universe but our tools for detecting it are primitive (we only learned how to discover planets by light shifts within the past decade or so).

I think if there is cellular life in our solar system we will discover it before this century is out.

Yes, and we are a minor solar system in a minor galaxy. A lot more to explore over the centuries. Even then, distance may defeat us.
 

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I am little more optimistic about the timetable us finding life particularly with the rise in popularity of the science and industry of space. I am hopeful for serious proof with in the next 50 years. I certainly lean to your way of thinking where Fermi is concerned though.
 

ZapFinch42

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Yes, and we are a minor solar system in a minor galaxy. A lot more to explore over the centuries. Even then, distance may defeat us.

I wish I was able to stick around long enough to see how exactly we tackle the problem of intergalactic travel. That has always seemed such an insurmountable obstacle, the grandness of achieving that would indeed be something to behold.
 

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Yes, and we are a minor solar system in a minor galaxy. A lot more to explore over the centuries. Even then, distance may defeat us.

Mhm. Though I'm a natural optimist when it comes to this sort of thing. I tend to think that if we can theorize hypothetical mechanisms for circumventing the speed of light in 2013 it bodes well for where we might be in 2513 or 3013. I'm actually 'confident' that if we endure as a civilization we will be able to spread across the cosmos. I'm a cryonicist because I hope to one day see it!
 

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I wish I was able to stick around long enough to see how exactly we tackle the problem of intergalactic travel. That has always seemed such an insurmountable obstacle, the grandness of achieving that would indeed be something to behold.

In my own lifetime I have seen a lot of science fiction come true. You can talk to anyone in the world using a small plastic device that has no wires or other visible means of reaching another device - instantly. You can send stupid movies onto a screen through airwaves. You can look at almost every document everywhere in the world.

I'm not optimistic about intergalactic but I think intra-galactic will be more than adequate and just a few hundred years away.
 

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Yes, and we are a minor solar system in a minor galaxy. A lot more to explore over the centuries. Even then, distance may defeat us.

Unless we live in the only solar system in the only galaxy with life. Then we'd not only be the most important, we'd be in the only ones where anyone could assign importance to anything else.
 

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The empirical evidence can pretty safely say life is here because it was an inevitability. The particulars of how the first few building blocks arrived remain a bit of a mystery but that is an important distinction.

Another important point to be made here is that while you are correct in saying that life sprouting up at any given moment at any given point in the galaxy is mathematically insignificant, keep in mind just how large the galaxy is. Also keep in mind that life, once it arrives, is pretty darn difficult to get rid of, giving us a large window of time to locate it. Add in the fact that we are on an average if slightly small rocky planet orbiting a fairly common G-type main sequence star. And the inevitability of life elsewhere begins to look pretty certain. Like a previous poster said, at this point, if it were to turn out that life isn't out there it would shake the foundations of our current knowledge. That isn't to say it couldn't happen, wild things happen in the world of science, it is just tremendously unlikely.

Now as for intelligent life well there we still have some major questions, not the least of which is Fermi's Paradox: If life is as likely as it seems to be then it should be fairly common. If life is so common than even if the chances of life becoming intelligent is very small, it would stand to reason that there are other space-faring civilizations. If that is the is the case, WHERE ARE THEY?
I'd further add that we use the term "life" to describe too many things. Vegetable life may be chemically not too different from the life of a lizard, but even a lizards's awareness makes if a vastly different thing that a tree.

Imagine a time in the future when we could examine thousands of planets in detail. what would it mean is we found teaming life with no awareness, and never another example of higher animal life?
 

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Hypothesis are often based upon circumstantial evidence and empirical measurements from different but related models. We have come to some fairly good conclusions about what is necessary for the formation of life and we've made great strides in attempting to deconstruct abiogenesis and the like. Extrapolating from this it becomes easier to form circumstantial evidence for their being life in the Universe, in fact it becomes virtually impossible that it doesn't exist. People consistently fail to grasp how large our Solar System is let alone our Galaxy, stellar cluster, or the Universe. It isn't about making predictions of what a particular molecule will 'do' it's the probalistics behind quadrillions of planets and environments over billions of years spread across billions of star systems.

In school they taught me that no matter how fancy, no matter how elegant, no matter how desirable the hypothesis, eventually, if there is not evidence produced in its support, one has to consider the very strong possibility that it is wrong.

Again, there is not an atom of evidence for extraterrestrial life. This is an exercise, and a good one. No matter whether I think that there is life out there, no matter if I want there to be, I am taking a stand on the evidence. And no one can refute me with anything other than an argument that essentially sates that something must be true because there are a great number of chances for it to be true.

The thing is though, that probability is not an entirely real thing, it's a mental tool we use, often with great success, to simplify our perceptions of complex, often disorganized systems.

Look at it this way. I offer you a closed box and inform you that there is a 99.99999% chance that there is a penny inside. You might be quite safe in predicting that when you open the box, Abe Lincoln, that nasty war criminal and despot, will be staring back at you. But in fact, those odds don't affect whether the penny is there or not in the slightest.

However, if you know the weight of the box, and the weight of a penny, and if you know that no other object can be in the box (a whole other issue,) you can use empirical evidence to make the determination, and the odds become irrelevant. In fact, the "odds" never had any reality at all, they were an abstract, the penny, or non-penny is real.

Also, and this is harder to explain to people, at least for me, we have poor definitions for what life is. I think that there should be separate terms for what we mean when we say that a fungus is alive, and when we say that a cat is alive, instead of an interchangeable term. Conscious life, much less intelligent life is a vastly different thing than insensate life. And we haven't yet considered the bane of definitions of life, the virus. If we discover something that might be alive on Planet Zongo, unless it either waves to us of demands that we surrender to the Zongan Empire, we might not be able to agree on whether what we found is alive, or a complex chemical process.

I also suspect that in coming decades a deeper understanding of quantum physics is going to further complicate our understanding of life. We are treated to an increasing number of very surprising instances in which minute particles behave radically different when observed, and when not observed. This at least hints at a conception of the Universe in which rudimentary awareness is not an emergent property, but a fundamental one. It may be that in some way we can't begin to grasp yet, everything is alive.

But to return to my position, I will stand firmly in my position that I am safe in acting, thinking, planning and living in a firm working assertion that there are no LGM out there, and I'll be safe in that position, as again, there in no evidence at all to the contrary.
 

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You can bet we have high gain receivers aimed there to see if there are any radio emissions that have modulation.

Yes we do. They've been a colossal waste of time and effort for decades now. Not because the search isn't noble, but because it has returned squat.

It's sort of like outfitting a team to recover sunken gold. Find enough gold, and it's all been worth the expense from the start. Find nothing, and the whole project was a waste from start to finish.

Few things known to Man can affect the past and operate backwards in time, but economics can.
 

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I'd further add that we use the term "life" to describe too many things. Vegetable life may be chemically not too different from the life of a lizard, but even a lizards's awareness makes if a vastly different thing that a tree.

Imagine a time in the future when we could examine thousands of planets in detail. what would it mean is we found teaming life with no awareness, and never another example of higher animal life?


Please don't take this as facetious.

There is some, limited though it is, evidence that plants on our planet do have some limited type of awareness. It might not be anywhere near as robust as ours but at least a sort of spatial awareness. Given the countless permutations possible in a universe this size, it is entirely possible that out there somewhere is some sort of plant like creature with true cognitive awareness.

For me personally, the possibility you raise is nearly as exciting as finding the universe to be teeming with intelligent life. Think about what a magnificent responsibility that would bestow upon our little species. We would in effect be the universal groundskeeper, the guardian of life and consciousness. Were we to find out that we are the only example of "higher life" (not sure I like that term btw) in the universe, I would like to think that that would help motivate a collective altruism in humanity. Perhaps a greater will to survive.

But I am a bit of an optimist
 

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I also suspect that in coming decades a deeper understanding of quantum physics is going to further complicate our understanding of life. We are treated to an increasing number of very surprising instances in which minute particles behave radically different when observed, and when not observed. This at least hints at a conception of the Universe in which rudimentary awareness is not an emergent property, but a fundamental one. It may be that in some way we can't begin to grasp yet, everything is alive.

Mind you I am no expert in Theoretical Physics. However, I am fairly certain that you are making a highly unsubstantiated leap in logic with that statement. The only person I have ever heard claim something like that is Deepak Chopra and you do not seem the type.
 
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