Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Kepler Findings! Squee!

The first results of the Kepler mission were released yesterday and today, including this little gem of a solar system.  Exoplanets have a very special place in my heart, occupying many a night of idle speculation and wonder from my childhood.  That I'll live to see the day when we'll at least implicitly find evidence for alien life is just one of those things that gets me out of bed in the morning when nothing else will.  The universe is awesome like that.

There are now well over 1300 known planets orbiting other stars.  And remember, the only planetary systems Kepler can see are what it can view as edge on, with planets transiting their star.  That would render most of our solar system invisible to alien astronomers with the same technology (though Neptune might be able to be detected through its influence on the motions of the sun).  Kepler found over 700 in just one tiny patch of sky.  That's a lot of planets.  In fact, according to the article linked to at the top of this post, astronomers now estimate there are at least 100 MILLION Earth-sized planets in the habitable zones of their stars in our galaxy alone.  I'll take those odds any day.

News like this makes me smile.  Let this serve as a reminder as to how silly it can be to argue politics all day.

1 comment:

  1. I honestly wish I could quit politics and just read about useful or interesting things.