Planet Declared As 100% Likely To Have Life... Now Can't Even Be Found

from the oops dept

You may recall a few weeks ago, we wrote about the discovery of the first "potentially life-sustaining planet" outside of our solar system, which got some astronomers so excited that one declared the chance of life on the planet to be 100%. Of course, he may want to adjust his optimism a bit downwards as Slashdot points us to the news that another group of astronomers are saying they can't find any trace of the planet:
But at this week's Astrophysics of Planetary Systems meeting, astronomer Francesco Pepe of the Geneva Observatory and the Swiss group reported that he and his colleagues could find no reliable sign of a fifth planet in Gliese 581's habitable zone. They used only their own observations, but they expanded their published data set from what the U.S. group included in its analysis to a length of 6.5 years and 180 measurements. "We do not see any evidence for a fifth planet ... as announced by Vogt et al.," Pepe wrote Science in an e-mail from the meeting. On the other hand, "we can't prove there is no fifth planet." No one yet has the required precision in their observations to prove the absence of such a small exoplanet, he notes.

Astronomer Paul Butler, a member of the U.S. team who is at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., says he can't comment on the Swiss work because he wasn't at the meeting and the data are unpublished. He notes, however, that more observations will likely be needed to solidify the existence of Gliese 581g. "I would expect that on the time scale of a year or two this should be settled."
So, perhaps before we declare it 100% likely to have life, we should make sure it actually exists.

Filed Under: astronomy, habitable, planets


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  1. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 14 Oct 2010 @ 8:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: To quote Peter Walker

    "What is faith if you don't take it as fact? The very definition of faith is accepting something as fact even when you cannot prove it."

    No, the very definition of faith is BELEIVING something even when you cannot prove it. There is nothing about faith that requires you to shut your mind off to other possibilities. You can have valid faith that is proved wrong down the road when more evidence presents itself.

    "I was once like you, I believed there was a God, but he didn't participate in the world he created."

    Please do not attempt to put faith in my mouth. I never said he didn't participate in our world. I said I think it's likely he didn't violate our free will in order to get his perfect book written. I don't pretend to know what form God takes, or what actions it does or do not take.

    "doesn't a person feed and care for his fish? Why would God not care for his creation?"

    Ugh, some do, some don't. What if our God is the Michael Vick of deities? I'm being glib, but seriously, why can't God be indifferent? Besides, of course, the fact that the Bible says otherwise....

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