"Two Water Worlds Unlike Anything in Our Solar System" --Found Orbiting a Kepler-Mission Star
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April 19, 2013

"Two Water Worlds Unlike Anything in Our Solar System" --Found Orbiting a Kepler-Mission Star

 

 

           Alien-world-waterworld2

 

Astronomers have a "Water World" planetary system orbiting the star Kepler-62. This five-planet system has two worlds in the habitable zone — the distance from their star at which they receive enough light and warmth that liquid water could theoretically exist on their surfaces. Modeling by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) suggests that both planets are water worlds, their surfaces completely covered by a global ocean with no land in sight.

“These planets are unlike anything in our solar system. They have endless oceans,” said lead author Lisa Kaltenegger of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and the CfA. “There may be life there, but could it be technology-based like ours? Life on these worlds would be under water with no easy access to metals, to electricity, or fire for metallurgy.

Nonetheless, these worlds will still be beautiful, blue planets circling an orange star — and maybe life’s inventiveness to get to a technology stage will surprise us.”

Kepler-62 is a type K star slightly smaller and cooler than our sun. The two water worlds, designated Kepler-62e and -62f, orbit the star every 122 and 267 days, respectively.

They were found by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, which detects planets that transit, or cross the face of, their host star. Measuring a transit tells astronomers the size of the planet relative to its star.

Kepler-62e is 60 percent larger than Earth, while Kepler-62f is about 40 percent larger, making both of them “super-Earths.” They are too small for their masses to be measured, but astronomers expect them to be composed of rock and water, without a significant gaseous envelope.

As the warmer of the two worlds, Kepler-62e would have a bit more clouds than Earth, according to computer models. More distant Kepler-62f would need the greenhouse effect from plenty of carbon dioxide to warm it enough to host an ocean. Otherwise, it might become an ice-covered snowball.

“Kepler-62e probably has a very cloudy sky and is warm and humid all the way to the polar regions. Kepler-62f would be cooler, but still potentially life-friendly,” said Harvard astronomer and co-author Dimitar Sasselov.

“The good news is — the two would exhibit distinctly different colors and make our search for signatures of life easier on such planets in the near future,” he added.

The discovery raises the intriguing possibility that some star in our galaxy might be circled by two Earth-like worlds — planets with oceans and continents, where technologically advanced life could develop.

“Imagine looking through a telescope to see another world with life just a few million miles from your own. Or, having the capability to travel between them on a regular basis. I can’t think of a more powerful motivation to become a space-faring society,” said Sasselov.

Kaltenegger and Sasselov’s research has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

The Daily Galaxy via CfA

Image credit: With thanks to http://a1star.com/alien-planet-world.php

Comments

I can assure you these planets do not have significant life. We all seem to forget the very pre-requisite of life here on earth, its the moon and Jupiter. The moon keeps us balanced and Jupiter absorbs our impacts. With these planets being so close to each other, I would hypothesize that they would not be able to support life based off of what we have here on earth.

I just peeked in my telescope to that coordinates and saw Kevin Costner in his tri-maran.

@ Anthony
It says it is a 5 planet system, it doesn't specify if any are gas giants and we don't have the technology to detect moons yet. So you can't really say they couldn't have significant life because we barely know anything about the system or the planets.

Its all pure speculations for a couple more years. For scientists it costs nothing to dream.

We can't say there isn't life Anthony. You have made huge assumptions that aren't appropriate to make.

@ Anthony

Life found at the deep sea vents prove that Jupiter and the moon ae not necessarily prerequisites for life. They don't live off sunlight and are chemical based. Don't shut that door just yet.

Never fear ... Anthony knows all!

What a ridiculous assumption. Using one solar system to extrapolate the conditions for life in what is likely to be trillions of others is the height of ignorance.

I can assure you Anthony your assurances mean naught.

i think by 2020 we will have encountered ET ..we should try to break natural speed limits (speed of light) to travel to deep space...250 yrs ago we had to invent steam engine to break speed limit (horse riding) and now we are using nuclear!!

I would make two observations. The first is that we have no idea if these are water worlds as described. They may well have water and oceans, but we have no way of knowing at this point.
"They are too small for their masses to be measured, but astronomers expect them to be composed of rock and water, without a significant gaseous envelope."
I offer the above quote as evidence of that.
The second observation is that the most potent "greenhouse gas" on Earth is water vapor, thus the comment that large amounts of carbon dioxide would be required to keep Kepler 62F from being a snowball is also unwarranted.
As for Anthony's comment, I would reply also that we have far too little knowledge both as regards the requirements for the development of higher life forms or actual conditions further out in the system(i.e. is there a reservoir of cometary material that would cause further bombardment of the detected planets). It's fun to speculate, however. :)

It's probable that somewhere, somehow, there is some form of life out there in the vast universe. How could there not be?

Should we re-examine the water canopy theory?
That problematic phrase in Genesis that says there were two waters of the Earth? One above and one below?

@katesisco

How about we leave the bible out of this?

'Unless proven otherwise,
life does not exist elsewhere.
Jacob Moon.

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