back to article ALIEN EARTH: Red sun's habitable world spotted 470 light years away

The discovery of new planets likely to be able to support life along Earthly lines has been announced, with one of the most promising candidates for alien and/or human habitability located just 470 light-years away. The new exoplanets have been discovered by analysis of data from the Kepler space telescope, and bear the tags …

  1. Ketlan

    New neighbours ahoy!

    'ALIEN EARTH with a RED SUN discovered 470 light-years away'

    I wonder if they'll mind if we pop round to borrow some sugar...'

    1. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: New neighbours ahoy!

      So if we spend 50-100 years developing and building a superfast* probe that can go check for sure and send the news back, we'll get the memo sometime around 7000AD


  2. Anthony Hulse

    Kneel before Zod!!


  3. adnim
    Thumb Up

    I am hopeful

    that eventually radio astronomy develops such sensitivity as to detect artificial radio emissions from such planets. Then the search for extraterrestrial intelligence can really begin.

    Light never dies it only fades away.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I am hopeful

      That's always been an interesting concept. But if we assume that life started an progressed on both planets at the same time, then they're about 400 years behind us at a least as far as the radio signals getting here. And vice versa. A bit of time lag..

      Solve the time lag and the sensitivity for artificial radio waves then the searches can begin in earnest.

    2. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: I am hopeful

      There's some speculation as to how long a civilisation actually outputs identifiable radio signals.

      Our early signals are all pretty easy to decode(plain AM or FM, or even Morse)

      Add the TV signals and it gets a bit moe dificult. Not impossible, just takes a bit of trial and error as soon as they see a pattern.

      Now, imagine today's digital radio, or the signal being sent to a satellite for broadcast.

      Our strongest transmitters today are probably those used to talk to assorted probes in space, and they're highly directional.

      How long will we even continue using Radio waves?

      Maybe there's only a short (less than a 1000 year) window when civilisations use radio?

  4. frank ly


    "... the team validated them by using a computer program called BLENDER ..."

    Are they sure that what they're seeing wasn't created in Blender?

    1. hplasm

      Re: Hmmm

      " determine that they are statistically likely to be planets."

      i know some people that this might include by accident...

  5. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Great... when will all of the marketing consultants be off there?

    Presumably in the "B-ark"?

  6. johnnymotel


    really so f***ing what!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: *!@*!!

      SCIENCE! For the good of all of us.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: *!@*!!

        Thumbs down? Sounds like targets for pieces of metal measuring 5.56mm in diameter are dropping by?

  7. johnnymotel may really exist out there in the vast and infinite depths of space or in other words 'get a life dear scientists'

    1. Alfred

      A life

      Get a life. Exactly. Stop doing what you love and satisfying your own desire to know things just because it's there to be known. Fuck all that shit. Just do what you're told like johnnymotel. Drink what you're told to drink, aspire to copy those you're told are "cool", be attracted to the people the media tells you are atractive. Interested in exoplanets? What a loser. You've been told so many times you're meant to enjoy getting drunk and watching some kind of sport, so do it. Get a dull job like you see on the soap operas you're supposed to watch. That's a proper life.

  8. AbelSoul

    ... bring the count of exoplanets known to humanity to a thousand.

    I thought it was nearer two thousand and a quick check of the Exoplanet 'phone app says there are 1837 confirmed exoplanets.

    So, what's going on here then, 837 Plutos?

    1. frank ly

      Re: ... bring the count of exoplanets known to humanity to a thousand.

      There may be a few Goofy ones in there.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: ... bring the count of exoplanets known to humanity to a thousand.

        Let's not forget the Mickey Mouse ones....

    2. Shrimpling

      Re: ... bring the count of exoplanets known to humanity to a thousand.

      The reference to 1000 planets in the original NASA press release is that these are the 1000th confirmed planets from the Kepler mission. I guess this means the 837 other planets on your app must have been detected by other means.

  9. Brandon 2

    it's all a nice theory...

    Too bad we'll never see them... diffraction limits and all...

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: it's all a nice theory...

      Not sure how the VLT is getting on but I can imagine some space based version in our lifetime, which might be able to have a peek.

  10. CJ_in_AZ

    When I first heard of the Kepler mission I thought that in the long run it would be the most important single mission that NASA has ever undertaken, and likely to be the most important one of the 21st century. I am thinking I was right. It's nice to know that at least some tiny fraction of my tax money was not squandered on buying bleeding-heart votes for some congresscritter.

  11. WalterAlter

    Yah, right.

    Well, that takes care of next year's astronomy department budget. (snicker)

  12. Mrspudulike

    So, these planets still exist? i mean, do any of them?

    I am not remotely educated in this field, but 470 light years ago, the planet existed - how do we know it is still there?

    1. Sir Sham Cad

      Re: do these planets still exist

      In order for planets to form you need a stable(ish) solar system and lots of time (think: in the millions of years). Now, usually the planets start to form from discs of material, dust etc... surrounding their start shortly after the star's birth. Close enough that you start the "millions of years" clock from star birth.

      It's reasonable to assume, then, that these planets have orbited that star since about 3-10 million years after its birth. A Red Dwarf star burns longer the smaller it is and these stars (according to the article) are smaller than our sun meaning they could go on for more than 15, 20 billion years. I can't find info on the mass of Kepler 442, the star Kepler 442b orbits so will have to leave the guess as to its age in the billions of years.

      This means the planets have been around for likely billions of years and, at least up until 470 years ago, in a stable system.

      So the chances of them undergoing some catastrophic event that has destroyed them is 470 divided by those billions of years. Sufficiently small for us to conclude they're so overwhelmingly likely to still be there now that it's not statistically credible to propose that they are not.

      Good question, though!

    2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      "Mrspudulike", are you a male potato I like, or a female pudding?

      These are the sort of questions we need answers to!

    3. Wilseus

      ...470 light years ago, the planet existed...

      You mean 470 YEARS ago the planet existed. The year is a unit of time, the light year is a unit of distance.

      But as the previous poster said, planets are pretty permanent and it's not very likely anything so catastrophic as to destroy it would happen to one in the space of a few hundred years!

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      how do we know it is still there?

      That's either an unsolvable question in epistemology, or a very easy one in physics.

      The physics one has been answered: based on the data available to us, and the best explanatory models we've developed for that data, we calculate a high probability the planets "still" exist.1 A Bayesian reasoner concludes that the assumption the planets still exist is the most useful one to operate under (while remembering the converse still has a non-zero probability, of course).

      The epistemological one is unsolvable because we can't say how we know anything "for certain". We have to trust our mental facilities; then we have to trust the evidence of our senses (in this case, for the sensory impressions we receive from our technologies); then we have to trust that our technologies do not suffer defects that cause them to report erroneous results; and so on.

      Of course, in a case like this, we ultimately have to trust that no cataclysm has destroyed the planets, because we won't know about it until it catches up with us. False vacuum collapse, for example, propagates at C or very slightly less, which means we'll find out about it right as it's destroying us. In fact, we'll probably never know, because it would propagate as fast as (or very nearly so) any of its effects, so our brains wouldn't even have time to recognize the signs. We'd be here and then we wouldn't be. And nothing else would be, either, in this universe. Ever.

      Since there's nothing to be done about that possibility, it's safe to assume it hasn't happened, and never will. If you're wrong, there won't be anyone around to laugh.

      1"Still" is problematic in itself, since it assumes some absolute frame of reference for time. But we'll pretend simultaneity has meaning across large distances for the sake of discussion.

  13. adam 40

    I am not a number

    Fed up with all this "Kepler nnnn-X" malarky. About time we started using names, there are plenty from Sci-Fi, vaguely fitted with the relevant story's description.

    E.g. this one could be Naboo? Or Romulus?

    What would be amusing is if the residents then get wind of this name calling, take offence, and launch an attack....

    1. Chemist

      Re: I am not a number

      "What would be amusing is if the residents then get wind of this name calling, take offence, and launch an attack...."

      The whole fleet will probably be swallowed by a small dog

      - thanks Douglas

  14. Kev99

    They found the planet Vulcan! Way cool.

  15. JCitizen Bronze badge

    470 years is nothing...

    What would be amazing is if these planets didn't end up like the earth, of whom very likely was struck by a mars or smaller size orbiting companion planet - which means we might actually be BEHIND this newly discovered planet by about 4.5 BEEELLION years! HA!

    I welcome our new overlords! 3:)

  16. Faux Science Slayer

    BFD....the Earth and Moon are the same distance from the Sun....

    The Earth and Moon get exactly the same amount of solar energy, yet the maximum temperature on the Moon is 200C hotter than maximum on Earth. The minimum temperature on Earth is 75C warmer than the minimum on the Moon. There are three major factors in this difference, atmosphere, oceans and Earth's internal fission heating. Read "Greenhouse Gas Ptolemaic Model" at Faux Science Slayer for details. Earth is unique in a hundred ways that allow self replicating, conscious life forms which take an eternity to develop. Even after years in school, some life forms are still unconscious.

    1. Simulacra75

      Re: BFD....the Earth and Moon are the same distance from the Sun....

      Is this a fucking bot?

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Given the total lack of intelligence and knowledge of its posts, it might as well be.

        1. adam 40

          So what are you saying, Dickwads?

          Is it nearer, or further away? (On average)

          Please enLighten us ;^)

  17. Sirius Lee

    'just' 470 light years away

    How can any article include the phrase 'just' when referring to many light years?

    'It's a good bit further off, at 1,100 light-years.'

    I know the English have a penchant for understatement and this is an example. Light from this star left the star before William the Conqueror did his thing but it's 'a good bit further off'. Makes it sound like you'd have to go all the way to the next town over to get there. No, these are vast distances and the language should, in my opinion, reflect the (literally) astronomical distances involved.

    1. Wilseus

      Re: 'just' 470 light years away

      In the scheme of things, 1100 light years is still in our close neighbourhood. Our galaxy is over 100,000 light years across. The closest proper galaxy to our own is over 2,000,000 light years away. The most distant are thousands of times further than that! Such phrases used in this article and others like it are, in my opinion, fine.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      The Universe is vast

      And its distances are totally incomprehensible to the regular human being.

      Consider that astronomers are regularly talking about our "galactic neighborhood" - meaning the group of galaxies that are closest to us.

      This has nothing to do with understatement, and everything to do with you not being used to the distances and concepts. Not a slur on your knowledge or intelligence, far from, but when one's job is to look at data coming from the nearest galaxies who happen to be up to a trillion light-years away, I guess that one does end up considering them in a different light and talking about them in such a way.

      So, considering that a group of stellar systems less than 2000 light-years away are in "our neighborhood" seems perfectly reasonable, when you realize that that distance is less than 1.7% the diameter of our galaxy.

    3. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

      Re: 'just' 470 light years away

      "I mean, you might think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's but that's just peanuts to space."

  18. Bunbury

    Odd picture?

    That certainly doesn't look like a representation of a somewhat dull red dwarf star. it seems to be chucking off all sorts of things.

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