from the urls-we-dig-up dept
There are about 700 confirmed exoplanets that astronomers have indirectly observed. The Kepler Space Telescope has gathered a vast amount of data, and it suggests that there are probably planets orbiting nearly every star. Now that we know about all these planets, it’s fun to speculate about how much life could exist on them. So here are just a few links for those of you who want to know where our alien neighbors might be.
- In just our galaxy, there could be 10 billion other planets that are similar to our own Earth. Gas giant exoplanets the size of Jupiter are easier to find, but they might not be as common as small rocky planets like ours. [url]
- The Habitable Exoplanets Catalog has a list of 7 planets that might support life, and this list has only just started to be compiled. A lot of these exoplanets are “super-Earth” sized, and it’s tough to know much about their atmospheres with current telescopes. [url]
- Tau Ceti is a star system just 12 light years away that seems to have similar characteristics to our solar system. Astronomers are guessing that there may be 5 rocky planets in orbit around Tau Ceti, and that star is about twice as old as our Sun, so there would have been plenty of time for life to arise (but also to perish). [url]
- ATLAST is a space-based telescope specifically designed to look for signs of life on other planets, but it’s only in the concept stage — with vague plans to launch sometime before 2032. Directly observing exoplanets and their atmospheres could tell us more about how unique our Earth is and how lonely we might be in the universe. [url]
If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post.