Fw: Alien Solar System Much Like Ours ...
- From the NG's:
----- Original Message -----
From: "Ken Kubos" <kubos@...>
Sent: Thursday, July 03, 2003 2:32 PM
Subject: Alien Solar System Much Like Ours ...
> Alien Solar System Much Like Ours
> By Erik Baard
> 02:00 AM Jul. 03, 2003 PT
> Our solar system just got a little less special, to the delight
> hoping to find life elsewhere in the galaxy.
> British astronomers say they found the first sun-like star with
a giant gas
> planet in an orbit similar to Jupiter's, which leaves plenty of
> worlds like Earth and Mars.
> The discovery "moves this star to No. 1 on the list" of places
to look for a
> planet like Earth, said astrophysicist Hugh Jones of Liverpool
> University, who led the team that made the discovery. The team
> find on Thursday at a conference on extra-solar planets in
> The star is designated HD70642. The mass of its giant gas
planet is about
> twice that of Jupiter, and the planet circles the star at a bit
> million miles out, which would place it between Mars and
Jupiter were it in
> our own solar system.
> The alien system is just 90 light years away in the
> The star is at a similar stage of life as our sun and has no
> Jones said. It also is in the same galactic neighborhood, so
> radiation levels should be about as low as in our solar system.
> What makes the discovery more exciting is that the star
> configuration closely resembles our own.
> Scientists believe that the presence of a giant planet in a
> Jupiter's is key to the development of advanced life on a
> closer to the host star. The big planet acts as a vacuum
cleaner for the
> rest of the system, sweeping up interplanetary debris like
> could snuff out life on the inner planets in fiery collisions.
> Too close to its star, the gas giant would hurtle any
> Earth-like worlds too far into the barren void or skew their
> long ellipses creating seasons too extreme for life. Too far
out, the gas
> giant could become a nemesis, slinging comets and asteroids
into the nest of
> terrestrial planets.
> So far, nearly all of the 100 worlds discovered around other
stars have been
> so-called "hot Jupiters," or big planets that hug their host
> closely -- about where Venus would be in our solar system.
> orbits are elliptical instead of nearly circular. The newly
> system has the gas giant in just about the right place.
> "Jupiter has played a major role in bringing carbon and water
to Earth, and
> it has also protected us from a too-high rate of
> said University of Washington astronomer Don Brownlee. "Even if
it turns out
> that this system is not able to harbor a terrestrial planet in
> habitable zone orbit, it will still be significant in that it
is close to
> being (our) solar system's clone."
> Along with paleontologist Peter Ward, also of the University of
> Brownlee is the author of books that argue advanced life in the
> must be exceedingly rare and transient.
> Of course, life might arise in other nests. Moons around gas
giants, for all
> we know, could be teeming with life.
> All theories of planetary evolution will be put to the test in
> decades, with the launch of NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder
> European Space Agency's Darwin project, both orbiting arrays of
> and sensors designed to detect smaller worlds. The current
> by Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institute of Washington and
Geoff Marcy of
> the University of California at Berkeley uses large
> to look for wobbles in stars' rotations to infer the presence
of a planet.
> The method works best for finding massive giant gas planets.
> The discovery made by Jones' team was detected by the 3.9-meter
> Anglo-Australian Telescope in New South Wales.
> But even with current resources, astronomers have a greater
> humanity's place in the cosmos. "We first showed that our own
> system is not the only thing out there, and now from what we
know so far,
> yes, there's a rather similar star to (our) own," Jones said.