back to article Kepler continues exoplanet bonanza

Data from the Kepler space telescope has yielded yet more Earth-like planets, with a University of Washington researcher identifying a second “habitable zone” super-Earth orbiting the star dubbed Kepler-62. The rocky Kepler 62f is estimated at 1.4 times the size of Earth, and receives a solar flux about half as much as Earth, …


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  1. JDX Gold badge

    If we can detect these planets...

    ... does that mean we could also detect that they were spewing radio waves like Earth is? Or is that a whole other level of difficult?

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: If we can detect these planets...

      I suppose we could detect them but it would take them a while to reach us. It is a big problem with any kind of interstellar communications as we know them: Even if we did detect them there's a real possibility 'they' wouldn't be there anymore by the time we detected them & got a signal back to them.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        Re: If we can detect these planets...

        there's a real possibility 'they' wouldn't be there anymore by the time we detected them & got a signal back to them

        A bit like using Royal Mail then :)

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: If we can detect these planets...

      No, it's a whole other level of difficulty.

      Military radar would be most detectable, I reckon. But even the power output of that kind of artifact is puny. AFAIK you would need a few thousand of square kilometers of collecting area to get any signal whatsover. This also means you would need to point it very precisely at the Sun.

      1. madestjohn

        Re: If we can detect these planets...

        And for example, like lets say if they were earth, we would have to being seeing them within a very narrow temporal window, (earth, for example, is roughly 4 billion years old, and has been potentially radio detectable for .. at the outside, just over a hundred years? And a hundred goes into 4 billion?,.. Ohhh ... Quite a bit. )

        And then that brief period of time would spread out into the Cosmos at just below the speed of light in a ripple, an as yet unknown but likely narrow band of who knows how many light years thickness, .... To then pass over an likely equally brief area when and where some one might just be listening, ... It's a lonely quite place out there.

        1. Steve Brooks

          Re: If we can detect these planets...

          Even worse, its likely that the earth's radio signature is actually decreasing due to the use of new technologies, internet tv to replace broadcast tv, satelites to replace over the horizon radar and communications, and who kows what else in the future. That hundred years or so might be the only hundred years or so in 8 billion years of habitatable time that you have chance to pick up radio waves. So if those radio waves crossed 1200 light years and started hitting earth 200 years ago, we have already missed our opportunity to detect them.

    3. Kugutsu

      Re: If we can detect these planets...

      Also the electromagnetic emissions from that system's sun would probably be far more powerful than any emissions from a potentially inhabited planet, and over this kind of distance, would totally swamp the signal. Imagine putting your mobile phone right in front of the speaker stack at a rock concert, backing off a hundred metres, and then trying to hear someone's voice on the phone...

    4. Richard Pennington 1

      Re: If we can detect these planets...

      Spotting the radio waves could be problematic as there would be a background noise from the parent star.

      1. Alan Firminger

        Re: If we can detect these planets...

        I think the only way to detect life on these distant planets is to wait for their life forms to evolve to super intelligent then watch out for the H Bomb explosions.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: If we can detect these planets...

          If they're super-intelligent they wouldn't be setting off H-bombs. We have H-bombs and we're not super-intelligent :)

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Eh, be glad that we can't hear what they may be saying!!

    "Yeah, we found this blue-green rocky world orbiting a yellow star about 1200 light years away. Nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere, liquid water, stable orbit well within the habitable zone. Too bad they are scheduled for demolition to make way for an insterstellar offramp."

    1. Steve Knox

      Re: Eh, be glad that we can't hear what they may be saying!!


  3. mfritz0

    Lets listen to it!

    Planets like this need to be thoroughly analyzed for all types of radio transmissions. There must be some form of life out there and planets like this would certainly be the most promising to listen to.

    1. Matthew 17

      Re: Lets listen to it!

      You get an awful lot of radio from all of the planets whether they have life on them or not.

  4. Steve E-G

    Moore's Law and the Fermi Paradox.

    Some recent research suggests that life on Earth may have taken a lot longer to evolve than first thought, even longer than the age of the Earth and thus we might well be the only intelligent (?) life in the Universe.

    1. John H Woods

      Re: Moore's Law and the Fermi Paradox.

      It's a couple of decades since I got my degree in genetics, and a bit less since I got my PhD in Biochemistry. Interestingly, I was still able to tell that this was utter bollocks within a couple of minutes simply by reading the abstract. I suggest you tweak your bullshit detector.

      1. Steve E-G

        Re: Moore's Law and the Fermi Paradox.

        You seem to be clever enough to get some decent qualifications but not to learn some basic manners.

        Instead of just being rude could you perhaps set out what you see as being incorrect with the paper? I believe that is how scientific progress is supposed to happen, but then I don't have a PhD in Biochemistry and so could be wrong on that.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: Moore's Law and the Fermi Paradox.

          One issue is that a proper scientific paper should not say 'Moore's "Law"': It is a shameful misuse of the term 'law' to apply it to a market forecast. 'Moore's Rule' or 'Moore's Best Guess' or 'Gordon Hopes & Dreams' would be an appropriate name for the observation and a scientific paper would have some title like "Correlation of Silicate Density In Compute Processors to Observable Probabilities of Recognizable Extra Terrestrial Life", or something.

          Don't let pseudo science or marketeers fool you with their misuse of terms. It is a nasty practice and it is the responsibility of the reader to see through their bullshit and know the correct meaning of the words.

        2. Steve Knox

          Re: Moore's Law and the Fermi Paradox.

          From the slashdot post:

          When plotting genetic complexity against time, the researchers found that genetic complexity increases exponentially, just as with Moore's law, but with a doubling rate of about once every 376 million years. Extrapolating backwards, the researchers estimate that life began about 4 billion years after the universe formed and evolved the first bacteria just before the Earth was formed.

          Setting aside the Moore's law reference, the most obvious flaw is exemplified by the phrase "extrapolating backwards." It asserts the assumption that underlies the entire original piece: that the rate of genetic change is constant and has remained constant. This is not consistent with observations on how environmental changes can affect (and even effect) evolution.

        3. Ru

          Re: Moore's Law and the Fermi Paradox.

          Instead of just being rude could you perhaps set out what you see as being incorrect with the paper?

          The major failing is their cherrypicking of data to give them a nice regression line. Their underlying idea remains interesting, but the "evidence" they've presented in support of it is nothing of the sort, sadly.

          You could have a read of this, perhaps:

        4. John H Woods

          Re: Moore's Law and the Fermi Paradox.

          Apologies - I intended to be rude about the paper, which is worthless, rather than to yourself.

          Firstly. I think it needs to be made clear that does not have any automatic status. Things that appear here may be e-prints of articles that have appeared in reputable refereed journals, or they may be nothing more than blog posts. And some of those are distinctively cranky - you can easily find proofs of the Riemann Hypothesis or the Goldbach conjecture here.

          Secondly, the paper takes an observation (that some trend is near-enough exponential) and applies it to another field as if it were a 'law' - Moore's Law is a misnomer in this regard. Of course, very many natural and artificial processes are logarithmic in nature. But there is no evidence of a mechanism that genetic complexity would increase in a strictly exponential manner. So the evidence is quite weak.

          Thirdly the claim is a very strong one. It is one thing to do a little thought experiment and come up with an interesting conclusion (wow, if genetic complexity progression were strictly exponential, there isn't enough time for life to evolve). But the sensible conclusion is that genetic complexity is very unlikely to have progressed in this way - not that life must have come from outer space. They might as well have said that this gives them evidence that the earth is a lot older than they we thought!

          Perhaps I was overly irritated because I miss being a scientist (unfortunately other life circumstances ejected me from a world I loved and always wanted to be a part of) and I now spend my time looking at very poor code developed by offshore coders and being told by my managers that it is now too late to do things properly. I can only offer this as an explanation rather than an excuse, but my rudeness was meant to be directed mainly towards the paper, somewhat towards the authors, and not at all towards you.

  5. annodomini2


    Are we determining if these planets have moons???

    1. Winkypop Silver badge

      Re: Moons

      That's no moon.

      1. BossHog
        Thumb Up

        Re: Moons

        I salute you.

    2. Ru

      Re: Moons

      Using the current means of detecting exoplanets, I suspect that there's no reasonable way to detect the presence of a moon with a decent degree of certainty. The nature of these small rocky worlds that are rather larger than the Earth isn't 100% certain yet, let alone anything smaller.

    3. Colin Miller

      Re: Moons

      The detection of exomoons is beyond our current technology. However, the detection of exoplants was beyond the then-current technology of the early '80s. Thus we might be able to detect them in 30 or so years time. IIRC, every credible astronomer says that exomoons almost certainly exist.

    4. annodomini2

      Re: Moons

      My only thinking being that if these planets have large moons (as with Earth), they may actually be smaller than measured.

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