Discovery of Earth-Sized Worlds – Google+ Hangout

by Fraser Cain on December 21, 2011

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This is the live Google+ Hangout we did to discuss today’s announcement of Earth-sized worlds orbiting another star. A big thanks to Nancy Atkinson, Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, MSNBC’s Alan Boyle and the Planetary Society’s Emily Lakdawalla.

I apologize at low resolution and other issues. This is a work in progress and we’ll have things more organized in the future.

If you’d like to find out about and watch future Google+ Hangouts, head to Google+ and circle me. Then you’ll be notified with the Hangout is about to start.

About 

Fraser Cain is the publisher of Universe Today. He's also the co-host of Astronomy Cast with Dr. Pamela Gay.

Anonymous December 21, 2011 at 5:32 AM

What I wonder is…
Why is our solar system so unusual by not having any planets close to our sun?
It seems that many systems do have at least one planet inside of .3 AU, often several.
What cleared, or knocked them out of the solar system?

Stipe Gali? December 21, 2011 at 9:24 AM

By now, I always assumed that there is bias in planetary discovery process, meaning that it’s much easier to discover such planets as K20e, than Earth sized planets at 1AU, but still – I’d love to hear answer to this question!

Jacob Pember December 21, 2011 at 2:03 PM

Great question. I think the answer will have to do more with the planet-finding techniques than any statistical leaning toward small-orbit planets, but it could be that we’re living in a bit of a weird system.

A great related thought about this, and something they were discussing in the hangout is that, as more and more data comes in over time, longer-period planets will become more and more commonly verified, meaning that many of the stellar systems out there with planets fairly close to their stars might also have collections of planets further out. A planet with a similar orbit to Jupiter would take more than 11 years (in a perfect scenario) to get two transits, and more than 22 (minimum) to get the requisite three sightings for a verified discovery.

I wonder how many of the known planetary systems also have long-period planets that we simply don’t have enough data to detect yet. It’s so exciting to be living at the time that this area of astronomy is really coming into its “Spring”.

Julian Maytum December 21, 2011 at 7:14 AM

The hangout was great! I hope you folks do more of them!

Stipe Gali? December 21, 2011 at 9:21 AM

Really cool hangout – hope you’ll do it on regular basis!

Anonymous December 21, 2011 at 2:46 PM

Is this system stable astrodynamically for an extended period of time? has anyone run calculations on the orbital mechanics? Must be some amazing views from those earth sized worlds.

Anonymous December 21, 2011 at 6:21 PM

Perhaps our solar systems lack on planets close to the sun is due to a cataclysmic event, early in the solar system’s history. Perhaps even linked to the gas & ice giant’s inward and final outward migration, and the Late Heavy Bombardment.

Anonymous December 21, 2011 at 7:41 PM

Is it possible to get and audio only version(podcast) of these hangouts?

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