back to article HABITABLE ALIEN WORLD discovered 20 light-years away!

Stargazing boffins say they have discovered evidence of a potentially habitable world orbiting a star just 20 light-years from Earth. They add that the circumstances of the discovery suggest that the galaxy may be "teeming with potentially habitable planets". Artist's conception showing the inner four planets of the Gliese 581 …


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  1. Otto von Humpenstumpf

    For a title-free universe

    "...before some galactic equivalent of the Germans chuck their beach-towels on all the best planets..."

    Already starting to colour the map of the universe pink, Mr. Page, are we?

  2. Timothy Slade

    I, for one...

    welcome the interstellar hostile takeover bid for Bebo that's sure to be launched.

  3. Simon Harris

    interstellar stupid ray.

    "Let's all hope that any denizens of the possible, habitable Sunrise Belt of Gliese 581g - or perhaps of 581d, should it in fact be habitable - have failed to evolve beyond the level of pondlife or primitive gibbering tree-dwellers, and as such will not be offended by the Bebo drivel-blast solecism."

    It is a little known fact that highly intelligent life actually was discovered on Gliese 581d some years ago, and the Bebo transmissions are actually the first interstellar weapon of mass destruction exactly intended to cause the inhabitants to un-evolve back to the level of pondlife and primitive gibbering tree-dwellers.

  4. Dan 10

    Nicely written

    You managed to get the science bit in as well as making me laugh/cringe. Well done!

    Obligatory icon, obviously.

  5. Mako


    An otherwise fine article, but Mercury *isn't* tidally locked.

    Niven's "The Coldest Place" should not be used as reference material.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Sorta locked...

      It's in resonance with it's orbit 3:2 iirc days to orbits.

  6. John I'm only dancing


    "might also be inhabited by life more complex than the microbial forms which have been all there was on Earth for almost all the time it has been a living planet"

    Why not just call them politicians?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Like they're the only ones

      you could add bankers, talent show producers, warlords, the arms industry (sorry Lewis), everyone at Fox News, and anyone who posts on internet forums.

      Oh, bugger.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And telephone sanitary engineers.

      All in the title

  7. AndrueC Silver badge


    You found me.

  8. Avatar of They
    Thumb Down

    Bebo sent THAT into space.

    There should be a law, or commission or something to stop morons, not only breeding, but also sending idiotic drivel into space. Surely what we beam into the cosmos should at least be monitored and censored to at least show the good side of humanity?

    I mean come on. "Laters...." ???

    1. Anomalous Cowturd

      Re: Laters....

      > Our bodies are made of bones ... We have senses. Smell, Taste, Sight and Touch. Without any of these things, we wouldn't live.

      Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't believe any of these senses are prerequisites for life either...

      And are all Bebo users deaf? WTF do they teach kids at skool these days?

      Please make them all go away.

    2. Geoffrey W

      <this space for sale>

      <QUOTE>I mean come on. "Laters...." ???</QUOTE>

      You think the space things are pedants of the English persuasion?

  9. stucs201

    Could be worse

    At least the bebo stuff is mere drivel. We could have really pissed them off by sending them 419 scams, or even the old Make Money Fa$t spam.

    1. Jerome 0


      At least they're funny, as opposed to just making one want to smash one's head against a wall repeatedly.

    2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      could be MUCH worse...

      Somebody could have sent them the works of Paul Neil Milne Johnstone.

      Wait... It was BeBo was it? Can someone check that they didn't? Please please please say they didn't.....

  10. envmod


    actually a very exciting discovery and will be interesting to see what else is found... I do think there will be some red faces and a lot of explaining to do though when intelligent life is finally found and says a big hello to planet earth - some of them are very likely to be the ET's various governments have been strenously claiming they know nothing about for decades. what will said governments do then? admit they have been lying to everyone for 50+ years? I think that might severely dent people's general confidence in them and possibly lead to mass unrest.

    i don't see any way this can be "disclosed" without seriously buggering up the power/control infrastructure in the world, which for obvious reasons, the associated parties will not allow to happen.

    they need to get working on some extremely good excuses.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      slash title

      >>what will said governments do then? admit they have been lying to everyone for 50+ years? I think that might severely dent people's general confidence in them and possibly lead to mass unrest.

      Or they might be a new government and blame it on the previous government while simultaneously broadcasting soundbites insisting they are a "Strong and stable government", just like the one we don't have now.

      At least we won't have to worry about a comet strike any more. Although I don't see why we couldn't just go to Curry's instead :P

    2. PCMcGee

      might severely dent people's general confidence in...

      Um..., who the hell are you talking about, everyone I've talked to has lost all confidence in Government a long time ago. Maybe your talking about the Banksters, I believe they may still have confidence that things are running properly.

      Let's see, 20 Light years, that means they should just about be recieving America's Funniest Home Videos and Doogie Howser M.D. about now.

      That'll send the right impression about us.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Bebo message wasn't really as bad

    as the 11 years of Big Brother coverage the aliens will get to watch. How cruel the "Phone lines are now closed" messages will be...

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      Actually no..

      The broadcast was particularly bad as it was a directed beam of microwaves. Prior now to its arrival you should know that its inhabitants now are but simple peaceful unicellular organisms no more andvanced that your average slime mould here on earth. Evolution has so far been stagnant due to the weak red rays from their sun and thick atmosphere.

      When this broadcast arrives, it will by chance just give enough energy to one particular molecule of one particular vital enzyme or protein, say a heat shock protein or something (or whatever analogs they have) causing it to malfunction and pass on a mutation.

      This mutation as you will see will be but the start. If you will, the tip of the iceberg of such a calamitous evolutionary cascade that by the time we arrive there some 50-100 years ago (depending on when exactly the Vulcans and this Zephram Cochrane dude eventually show up), we will find the whole planet inhabited by a somewhat humanoid, highly evil, and while debatably intelligent, definitely slimy, life form.

      Copyright Lawyers.

      (" I say we take off, and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure. " Something like that's bound to be said I suspect )

    2. Tom 35

      And they will still be charged

      if they text in a vote...

  12. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Lucky for us

    Any recipients (un)fortunate enough to have received and translated the messages from planet Bebo will have concluded from them that we pose no threat whatsoever. Though they may puzzle how such an obviously retarded species ever got the technology to create fire, let alone beam messages across the void.

    Oh yes, one small point - you missed out a word:

    >tidally locked - with one face constantly turned to its primary, like Mercury

    should read "_unlike_ Mercury". it's been known since the 60's that this wasn;t the case.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Lucky for us

      Thanks everyone who pointed this out - article's now been amended.

  13. Liam Thom


    I bet Nicole is an 18 stone truck driver.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      She's also apparently related to Malcom X. You'd think she'd be a bit more well-read.

      Hey, at least she's interested in doing Broadway and likes Doctor Who. That's quite a bit better than, say, wanting to be on ...

      You know, I just realized that I watch so little TV now that I can't come up with an example of a truly insipid show. I know about Huge, and Glee, and Mad Men, but those are all pretty good. Hunh.

      Anyway, Broadway and Doctor Who? It could be a lot worse.

      -David x

    2. Tim #3


      and male too.

      But, y'know, I think we're pretty happy together after all.

    3. Ian Moffatt 1


      A sweaty one in a Lidl leisure suit as well

      Apart from that how does Bebo waffle stand up against Vogon poetry?

  14. MJI Silver badge

    They are probably scared of us but wondering why we haven't visited

    Well they have seen the films of our spaceships.

    They are probably wondering why the Enterprise hasn't visited yet.

    1. serviceWithASmile


      also, won't they be wondering when our moon is going to show up?

      how ironic would it be if we have actually conquered every advanced planet within 80 lightyears decades in advance by scaring the shit out of them with transmissions of our millitary might, only to show up with no weapons wrapped in padded white suits saying "we come in peace"?

      IMHO, we should be putting ion cannons and nuke launchers on the ISS.

      When the invasion force gets here, it will be because Firefly got cancelled.

      1. Juiceman
        Thumb Up


        Nice Firefly reference! :)

        1. Anonymous Coward


          You guys are beginning to damage my calm......

          (obligatory Grenade icon!)

    2. Anonymous John

      Don't forget Galaxy Quest.

      They'll be watching it nine years from now. And they will be pretty mad when they realise that the historical documents they've been shitting themselves over for years, aren't real.

  15. Skyraker
    Thumb Up

    More like this please.

    "As one might expect the resulting material focused on matters of interest only to mental cripples. "

    I'm still giggling... nice one!

  16. Marty

    I for one

    welcome our new Gliese 581 overlords....

    I was actually thinking that if they had not evolved beyond pondlife then.......

    wait for it..............

    Beebo, facebook twatter et alii, will be right up there street !!

  17. reverend jx


    Great stuff, enjoyed reading that. Perhaps any life on that planet might perceive us as harmless morons based on the Bebo message and hold off on the interstellar shafting.

    1. asdf

      we are the morons from outer space

      This is writing instrument. P-E-N-N . Lol long live 1980s B movies.

      1. MrT


        mmmmm... green beer....

  18. nobel2011

    Mercury is not tidally locked

    Mercury is in a 3:2 resonance with the Sun (same as Pluto and Neptune).

  19. ravenviz Silver badge


    "if conditions on the surface are right liquid water could perhaps exist there"

    So that's that explained then.

  20. Winkypop Silver badge

    A new religion is born

    That transmission will probably start a new religion.

    "God Bebo; we praise your interstellar word, we bow down our appendages * to you"

    * I'm thinking green tentacles or similar..

  21. Muscleguy

    Tidally powered

    The big temperature differences will, even in a non rotating world, result in huge atmospheric storms and if it has surface water currents as well. I certainly wouldn't see the place as a long term colony prospect. You would likely only be able to inhabit tiny portions of it and be constantly subject to the storms.

  22. Gianni Straniero

    1.1-1.7 g

    "Thus its surface gravity would be anywhere from 1.1 to 1.7 g ... quite feasible for humans to walk about in"

    Speak for yourself, fitness freak. Most of your readership has enough trouble struggling to the vending machine in 1g conditions.

    1. Gene Poole
      Thumb Up


      Maybe the IT Dept. of the future will have gravity reduction flooring to enable us all to get to and from the vending machine without expending too much energy?

    2. John I'm only dancing


      You mean the Vending Machine is not located next to your workstation?

  23. Bob Terwilliger

    Wow! from Facesbook?

    I now have visions of the source of the Wow! signal being extraterrestrial social networking crud

  24. Witty username


    "Our bodies are made of bones ... We have senses. Smell, Taste, Sight and Touch. Without any of these things, we wouldn't live. "

    "right lads, blind em and steal their bones, that should stop their "web two point oh"

  25. Swoop

    Correct me if I'm wrong but...

    ...surely there's nothing *new* in finding exoplanets by radial velocity measurements? I thought that was how the first planets outside our solar system were discovered?

  26. Rogerborg

    Never mind all that wankery

    Can they or can they not sell us a cheaper VSTOL replacement for the F-35?

  27. Tom Chiverton 1


    "just getting past low orbit seems to be beyond us at the moment"

    Voyager would disagree with you. Now, about that nuclear thermal rocket idea from the 70s...

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      No people on board though

      so WE cannot get beyond low Earth orbit

  28. JohnG


    We should start building ships to take all the important people to one of the new worlds right away as ours is definitely going to be hit by a big asteroid in a few years time. Sadly, some of us lowly engineering types will have to stay behind to launch the first wave of spaceships but we will follow later. Important people like politicians, senior bankers, reality show celebrities, Scientologists and the like should pack only a single suitcase as space on the space ship will be limited.

    1. Circadian


      ...although we had better make sure to keep some telephone santisers. (Nice one JohnG!)

    2. Philip J.F. Quinlan

      The B-Ark

      Don't forget the telephone sanitisers

    3. Swoop


      Thanks, made me smile...

      ...says he, mentally drawing up the list of those far too "important" to be left behind.

    4. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge


      my commanding officer swore that we were all in imminent danger of being eaten by a giant mutant star goat!!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Intelligent life

    ...... '- have failed to evolve beyond the level of pondlife or primitive gibbering tree-dwellers' . So that would be life only marginally higher on the evolutionary scale than the user base of Bebo then?

  30. Colin Millar

    New method?

    Ah - new method as in "first used over 150 years ago"

    Do I detect a patent application in the making?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ain't necessarily so

    The comment that gravity of 1.1 to 1.7 Earth normal would be "good for holding an atmosphere" may be misguided. Many scientists believe that even the Earth would have far too dense an atmosphere for life (as we know it, Jim) if not for our freakishly large Moon. In fact, it might be a fairly close replica of Venus - and none of us would want to live there. Since it is now thought that the Moon was created in an extremely improbably collision between the primitive Earth and another planet about the size of Mars, planets habitable by creatures like us may be quite rare.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      And our rather convenient magnetic field might help (no, air isn't magentic - but solar wind is...)

    2. Schick

      @ ain't necessarily so

      Stop pissing on my dreams.

  32. Chrome

    What's worse?

    A planet-busting missile or accidentally ending up on an alien equivalent of a friends page?

    ## Receiving: BEAM - OMG! Just had the biggest poo eva!

  33. Anonymous Coward

    welcome mat


  34. Mikel

    Roughly 3x Earth

    If the planet is roughly 3x Earth size well within the Goldilocks zone and liquid water, it likely has a moon with all the right properties. Gravity that's high and low enough, liquid water, atmosphere, some sort of "day".

    I wouldn't look to the planet itself. Too much gravity. But a moon might serve for Earth II.

  35. Martin 49

    A quick trip over there then?

    Its only 189214609451616 miles away after all.

    1. Stumpy

      A quick visit...

      Fire up the Quattro then...

  36. Skymonrie


    Constellation Libra eh? I didn't realise OpenOffice was getting THAT far away from Oracle.

    Coat: Anyone need a lift?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just 20 light years away....

    I might just take a walk over to see it then.

  38. Filippo Silver badge

    20 light-years

    It's not *that* much. Getting a probe there should be doable in a few centuries. Okay, it's a slightly long-term project, but it should be worth it - if only to drop some microbes and lichens so that life goes on in case the Earth is wiped out by a gamma burst or something.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    Britain and Germany

    Actually if we were ever to detect an alien invasion fleet we should send a combined British German counterstrike force, if they've been monitoring earth they should know that all truly evil Hollywood super villains are either British or German, just one broadcast of "Thank you Lord Vader you may fire when ready", "ja wohl, mein captain" should have them scurrying away !

    1. MinionZero

      @ broadcasts...

      Actually the aliens are now watching our 1990's TV shows (20 light years) and so must be by now starting to sense the quality of our shows deteriorating. That means the poor Alien sods are going to be subjected to our reality TV shows within the next 10 years. At which point that will help halve their IQ's and their viewing figures and invasion plans won't recover for decades. ;)

      1. LaeMing


        they will scrap their invasion plans as it becomes obvious our civilisation will have deteriorated beyond the point of being of any use/interest by the time they arrive.

  40. Sweep


    Fire up the Orion- let's go!

  41. J Lewter

    New Life and New Civilizations

    I can see how this is going to go!!!!


    With knowledge and love of GOD we will go with bold entreaty whither no man had gone before to spread the word and the gospel of our king.

    As long as we restrict communications to White American Christianity make sure no Islam extremist terrorist make are able to commuincate with the new planet then we'll be okay.


    I know that one day life on another planet will be found, and this will either bolster relegion or end it. I fear both, One will bring out the extreme nature on both sides and we'll see the church trying to block access like they have done in the past, the other will see people take a loss of faith and come to terms that there may be no afterlife so they can do whatever they want. In essence, when we find new life I rekon there's a larger chance we'll kill ourselves long before we ever get to actually travel to the planet.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Try this book

      The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell.

      Well written, but quite depressing.

      1. OrsonX

        The God Squad In Space

        depressing thought of the day

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Since we are on the subject .....

    ... anyone esle think 'The Event' is shite?

  43. Alex 79

    Nice planet

    WE'LL TAKE IT!!!

    1. LaeMing

      I believe the correct terminology is:

      "This is a nice planet we are taking over."

      "It certainly is."

  44. John 62


    Just imagine they have a sci-fi scene on this planet and have independently produced a Contact-type film/book. Imagine their amazement when they discover the coded message is not the means to create an interstellar transporter.

    1. Thecowking
      Thumb Up


      They use retard-speak as encryption and it IS!

    2. OrsonX

      I'm good to.....


    3. Adrian Esdaile

      We should be able to see them, in that case...

      They will nuke their own planet to commit suicide after finding out how fucking depressing & inhospitable the universe really is.

      If I found proof the only other intelligent life had created Web 2.0, I'd want to find another universe too. Oh, wait...


  45. Johnny Canuck

    the bebo beam

    Referred to as a "stupefying ray" by Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbs fame).

  46. Graham Marsden

    M-class sun....

    But not an M-class planet...?

  47. Anonymous Coward

    Now, let me see ...

    A planet which has seven times the mass of the Earth ... and which orbits a red dwarf sun. Oh yeah, that's very Earth-like. At best, its gravity would be insufferable and its ambient mean summer temperature will be low enough to freeze CO2.

    How is this a potentially habitable world (any more so than, say Mars)?

    Oh ... and 20 light years is of course an easily traversable a distance, isn't it?


  48. jonfr

    There is no life there

    I think it is quite clear that there is no life there. But there might be a liquid water there at the equator. But no life, my argument for that is this star system is actually too cold for a life to evolve there.

    More information on this solar system.

  49. John F***ing Stepp

    War, eh?

    First question; do they have oil?

    Second and <em>Much More Important</em> question; do they know that we still have oil?

    I mean ixnay on the oilgay guys.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If their radiotelescopes

    are at least as good as ours, then they should already been able to detect transmission of Berlin Olympics some time ago. We're still alive after subjecting them to Nazi propaganda, so I don't think Bebe would matter much.

  51. b166er

    Our secret's safe

    How would they translate the Bebo gibberish into their own language anyway?

    I always chuckle when I hear that we're broadcasting something into space. It's not like we've decoded their broadcasts yet, so how the fuck are they going to understand ours?

    One of the fascinating aspects of meeting another race, would be how language had developed for them and how possible would it be to translate between the two.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Check out the thought behind teh Arecibo message

      Maths is maths, that is a universal language.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re : Our secret's safe

      "another race, would be how language had developed for them"

      Funny - we can make Merkins (even) (mis)understand us esp. if we shout.

  52. OrsonX

    the presence of advanced intelligent life would be a disaster for humanity


    surely this is why we have nukes?

    1. Anders Halling


      "People of Mars, surrender or be destroyed!"

      "Sir, this is Earth"

      "Earth? Earth-with-nuclear-weapons-Earth?"



  53. LaeMing

    Just wondering why,

    the artist choose to give a (probably) tidally locked planet icy poles at the top and bottom.

  54. MyHeadIsSpinning

    Let's do it properly

    Let's really rile them up, let's send them a torrent of /b/.

  55. william henderson 1

    let us hope

    that if there is intelligent life out there, they are not plagued by fairy worshipping psychos like we are.

  56. Jim_aka_Jim


    Aliens are going to avoid us: all the drivel we've pumped in to space on various different wave lengths would make any intelegent life cringe and flee from fear of being infected by stupid.

    It's just as likely that aliens have already taken steps to prevent humans from creating interstella travel so we leave them alone.

    And then of course they may just blow us up, 'So long and thanks for all the fish'

  57. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Does anyone else worry about....

    ..the fact that the artist's impression clearly shows a green and fertile land on the day AND night side of the planet, although you would expect the night side to be a permanent icecap....?

    This sort of inconsistency should be legislated against...

  58. CASIOMS-8V

    future terraformers -

    If you get a cryptic message from someone in the corporation about the site of a crashed alien wreck which is bound to earn you lots of bounty credits or a holiday on a pleasure world ignore it.

    Or show up wearing some old steel visor helmet or similar.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Who's with me?

    This calls for an interplanetary-system apology, as soon and as loud as possible.

  60. This post has been deleted by its author

  61. Marco van de Voort
    Thumb Up

    Right circumstances now are not the right circumstances for life ?

    It doesn't make sense to expect habitable conditions on a planet? You would want a planet that is slightly too hot?

    With the little I know about these matters, usually astronomy says that a proto earth (before life) is much like Venus, with a gigantic greenhouse effect due to the enormous CO2 concentrations).

    IOW when life starts converting this in O2, temperature drops somewhat.

    If I understood it correctly this new planet already is a bit too cold, with greenhouse effect. Terraforming it would make it colder even?

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not just Bebo

    They've already had forty years of TV, and are presumably just waiting for James T Kirk to turn up and explain "this thing called love"

  63. Sarah Davis


    surely you meant 'Kremmond Torpedoes' !!

  64. Daniel Evans

    20 year return time on a Planet-Smasher Missile?

    Never mind FTL missiles, I want to know what tech they're using to get it to nearly/exactly the speed of light!

  65. D. M

    No one thought of warp drive?

    Or pIvghor if you speak klingon?

    It will only be a short drive away, better get there before all the good spot are gone.

  66. Anonymous Coward

    What's the chance?

    When AGW scientists predict global catastrophe from a temperature increase of a couple of degrees, what's the chance of finding another habitable planet?

    It all seems a bit unlikely.

    In an infinite universe with infinite possibilities, you'll need an infinite amount of time to find something you want.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Incoming message from the Gleise system....

    This just arrived.

    OMG!! You loserz from Sol C spammed the hell out of us! WTF!, I was downloading porn when your spamfest locked up my router!

    You guys blow whales and your cat looks like something I wiped my butt with last night! I bet you low-gravity wussies can't even arm wrestle my 6 year old sister! Wanna make something of it homo?--bring it!!!

    Most Sincerely,

    XTEGMoELNAMp The Devourer--Gliese D

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