Cosmic census finds crowd of planets in our galaxy

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Cosmic census finds crowd of planets in our galaxy

Postby wjfox2009 on Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:13 pm

Cosmic census finds crowd of planets in our galaxy

February 20, 2011 By SETH BORENSTEIN , AP Science Writer

(AP) -- Scientists have estimated the first cosmic census of planets in our galaxy and the numbers are astronomical: at least 50 billion planets in the Milky Way.

At least 500 million of those planets are in the not-too-hot, not-too-cold zone where life could exist. The numbers were extrapolated from the early results of NASA's planet-hunting Kepler telescope.

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Re: Cosmic census finds crowd of planets in our galaxy

Postby truthiness on Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:11 am

Wow... Actually, thats less than I would have expected though... That works out to just one planet for every two stars, at most. I wonder, are they considering "planet" to mean Earth-sized or above, or just the modern post-Pluto IAU definition? Would they then count objects such as the moon, or Ganymede or Titan or Eris to be "planets" in this census? Our Solar System has 8 planets that orbit the sun, obviously, but it also has an additional 25 or so objects that could be considered planets were they not already orbiting planets or if they didn't find themselves among other rival objects (as in the two known belts).

I have a bit of a hard time believing that our little star is so exceptional that it has 50X the usual number of "planets". Don't get me wrong, the sun is great and all that... nice high metallicity... long stable lifespan... not too many flareups... no pesky companions... but do we really think it has 50X the usual number of "planets"?
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Re: Cosmic census finds crowd of planets in our galaxy

Postby TreeHandThing on Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:06 am

Contrary to the extreme number of planets, I do not believe that any intelligent extraterrestrial life in the Milky Way galaxy. We can't find any alien signals or anything. I'd say intelligent life forms only exist beyond 3 million light years away, not any closer.
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Re: Cosmic census finds crowd of planets in our galaxy

Postby MissTomorrow on Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:21 pm

wjfox2009 wrote: at least 50 billion planets in the Milky Way.



All the exo planets so far found are giants, or smallr planets very close to star that happen to orbit in front of them. That surely leavs out a lot more. what about free planets that drift through space with no sun? Even those might have life underground, or atthe bottom of frozen seas, if theres enough volcanic heat.


truthiness wrote:I have a bit of a hard time believing that our little star is so exceptional that it has 50X the usual number of "planets".


Me too. if Kepler saw our sun from a nearby star in the wrong plane, it wouldnt spot ANY of the planets. Though Jupiter & Saturn might be pickd up by their gravity effect on the sun - but youd have to observe for 30 years to find Saturn that way. Lets face it, there must be hundreds of billions more planets - even big ones - that can't be spotted yet, just becaue of their orbits. The 50 billion estimate must be very conservative.

TreeHandThing wrote:Contrary to the extreme number of planets, I do not believe that any intelligent extraterrestrial life in the Milky Way galaxy. We can't find any alien signals or anything. I'd say intelligent life forms only exist beyond 3 million light years away, not any closer.


where did you get that figure? do you think that life of any kind is very rare in the universe, or only inteligent life with technolgy?
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Re: Cosmic census finds crowd of planets in our galaxy

Postby TreeHandThing on Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:36 pm

MissTomorrow wrote:All the exo planets so far found are giants, or smallr planets very close to star that happen to orbit in front of them.


Don't leave gas giants out of the equation. Their moons may support life. Life may even be in the gas giant itself!


MissTomorrow wrote:where did you get that figure? do you think that life of any kind is very rare in the universe, or only inteligent life with technolgy?


We cannot find any alien probes or alien signals. We can't find any evidence of them through telescopes, etc.
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Re: Cosmic census finds crowd of planets in our galaxy

Postby crzer07 on Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:33 am

I believe it would take at least 100 million years before we make first contact with intelligent life... and that's extremely optimistic. That is if you compare to the age of the universe and the vast distances between galaxies.

There may be intelligent life on the other side of the Virgo Supercluster that's on our level, but then again the Virgo Supercluster is just a tiny fraction of the observable universe. So this universe may be teeming with intelligent life. Some may die out too quickly before first contact.
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Re: Cosmic census finds crowd of planets in our galaxy

Postby TreeHandThing on Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:53 am

I don't believe that intelligent life is in the local group. I'd say that intelligent life will be discovered in 2 million years. The relatively new prediction to the timeline saying that intelligent life will be discovered before 1 million AD is suprisingly optimistic, but the old prediction, at 100 million AD, is extremely pessimistic.
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Re: Cosmic census finds crowd of planets in our galaxy

Postby truthiness on Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:27 am

TreeHandThing wrote:I don't believe that intelligent life is in the local group. I'd say that intelligent life will be discovered in 2 million years. The relatively new prediction to the timeline saying that intelligent life will be discovered before 1 million AD is suprisingly optimistic, but the old prediction, at 100 million AD, is extremely pessimistic.


What about intelligent life discovering us first? It seems likely to me that there is probably at least one other intelligent civilization somewhere in the Virgo Supercluster that is already 100 million years old (or more). As you say, it'd be extremely pessimistic to believe that such an ancient civilization hasn't already found us. To go a little farther out on the limb, I doubt that such a wise civilization would still be mucking around with sluggish radio communication that travels at merely the speed of light. Do you really think we'll be the first ones out of the gate?
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Re: Cosmic census finds crowd of planets in our galaxy

Postby ExplorerAtHeart on Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:06 am

At least 50 billion.

There are probably hundred trillion planets in the galaxy
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Re: Cosmic census finds crowd of planets in our galaxy

Postby TreeHandThing on Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:53 am

truthiness wrote:What about intelligent life discovering us first? It seems likely to me that there is probably at least one other intelligent civilization somewhere in the Virgo Supercluster that is already 100 million years old (or more). As you say, it'd be extremely pessimistic to believe that such an ancient civilization hasn't already found us. To go a little farther out on the limb, I doubt that such a wise civilization would still be mucking around with sluggish radio communication that travels at merely the speed of light. Do you really think we'll be the first ones out of the gate?


The Virgo Supercluster is gigantic. I'd say that there are at least 4 other intelligent civilizations in the Virgo Supercluster.
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