back to article Astronomers spy 32 new exoplanets

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has announced its discovery of 32 new exoplanets - a bountiful harvest of new worlds to conclude the initial five-year phase of its High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) planet-sniffing programme. The 32 bodies range in size from five times the mass of Earth to 5-10 times …


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  1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    An Alternative Space View ...... AIReading

    "Another significant result of the HARPS survey is that the ESO has identified "three candidate exoplanets around stars that are metal-deficient"."

    Methinks the scientist crowd would do better to hunt for trace elements which render meta-efficient stars servering extraplanetary activity. ...... but there is no accounting for personal taste, is there, in the delivery of perfectly useless future information of the past.

  2. Wotsit Doodah

    I for one ...

    ... welcome our Super-Earth Exoplanetary Overlords!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    No "normal" Earth-sized planets yet then?

    ...that'll be the real discovery. Oh and some water too would be nice, but given we can't even find it properly on the Moon, I'm not optimistic it'll be in my lifetime.

    Besides - who care about planets we have no chance of standing on without being compressed into a soggy beefburger half a foot high by the gravity.

  4. ShaggyDoggy


    get the rockets out, let's get going

  5. Dan 10

    It's the Doctor!

    * the "first super-Earth in the habitable zone of a small star". *

    Whoa! If that planet has been in the habitable zone for some time (say, a few million years), doesn't that drastically increase the chance of life?

    Alien icon, obviously.

    Fitting that amanfrommars should comment first...

  6. Gordon Pryra
    Thumb Up

    soggy beefburger


  7. Hermes Conran

    @ AC 10:47

    Earth size planets are out there, probably in the same systems the superearths have been found. The instrumentation is just not sensitive enough to spot them. As for normal, Earth is on the weedy side, any smaller and we'd be like Mars, too small to hold on to much water. Any Aliens out there would probably be able to kick sand in our faces!

  8. Will Shaw


    I've never heard planets described as "circulating" before. Circling, yes. Orbiting, definitely. But "circulating"? It's not a bloody cocktail party.

  9. Paul 4

    @No "normal" Earth-sized planets yet then?

    No, but not too long ago they were having problems with anything smaler than gas giant. It looks like they are refining it all the time, its just a matter of what is the practial limit?

  10. tony

    Ding Dong,

    Have you been saved? are you ready for the rapture?

  11. John 90


    "five-year phase of its ... planet-sniffing programme"

    Is that the same as a five year mission to seek out new life and new civilisation?

    getting my coat ...

  12. jai

    nuke from orbit, it's the only way to be sure

    if there are exoplanets in a habitable zone, is that a good or a bad thing?

    in theory, any life to have thrived on the planet would be spead out much more disparetely across the surface, so possibly less likely for the secific conditions to generate intelligence to occur

    but then again, on a planet that size, natural resources will be bountiful. no need for natural alternative energy sources, they're probably heading towards us in their steam powered spaceships as we speak

    we ought to strike first, just to be on the safe side

  13. Graham Marsden

    Hey Xy!pn...?

    ... Yeah Zax'in?

    ... You ever had the feeling that someone's watching you...?

  14. Kevin Perry


    So what do these planets gorge themselves on to get so fat?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Why we only hear about "super-earths"

    Scientists use different techniques to find exo-planets. Currently star-wobble-due-to-gravitational-tug is the most popular, because it can be done with essentially normal telescopes. Because a planet has to be pretty big to tug on its star in a measurable way, we are only finding big planets.

    NASA has launched Kepler recently, which instead looks for planets by the dimming of light as they pass in front of their host star. The trouble is Kepler has only been up for a couple of months, and planets take years to orbit. So I suspect, as soon as the scientists are done kicking the tires, and the planets we are looking for have done a couple orbits, we'll see some truly Earth-sized planets being found.

  16. Red Bren

    That's one small step...

    because I can't lift my foot in this super-earth's gravity!

  17. Anonymous Coward


    "five-year phase of its ... planet-sniffing programme"

    Wow, that's a LOT more ambitious than my "ladies' laundry-sniffing programme"

    Science apparently marches onward and... erm... upward.

  18. ian 22

    Begin the search for intelligent life !

    There's none here, certainly.

  19. Anonymous Coward


    Hmmm, let's assume they do find an "earth-like" planet. Let's see, looking back over the entire fossil record and geological record, what is the probability of Homo sapiens, or yet brighter critters, evolving even here on earth - our only available sample. (figure figure). OMG - never mind. Life, that's almost certainly ubiquitous, but critters as smart or smarter than we are, almost certainly, extremely rare - and much more sparse, re distribution in space, than simplistic models suggest. Not that we should quit studying the universe. It uplifts are eyes and spirits from the mundane job of survival here. It's just that we shouldn't be looking for a substitute for religious fantasies that have been dis-proven time and again or untestable theories that feed our propensity for alternative fantasies. Reality and discovery are ever so much more interesting and thrilling.

  20. Daniel B.

    This could be fun...

    If we actually find an Earth-like planet ... what are the odds of finding one that has the exact same conditions our own planet has? (or at least a breatheable atmosphere, drinkable water and land suitable for earth agriculture)

    Even better, the chance of finding some kind of Homo Sapiens-ish race?

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