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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Kepler-11

"Scientists using NASA's Kepler, a space telescope, recently discovered six planets made of a mix of rock and gases orbiting a single sun-like star, known as Kepler-11, which is located approximately 2,000 light years from Earth." For more details go to the Kepler Mission Pages over at NASA.

Incredible stuff. Kepler-11's six planets are all larger than Earth and most are in much closer to their sun than anything in our system. This solar system challenges a lot of conventional thinking about how planets form and how they take up orbit around their stars.

What an interesting arrangement this system has, with very large bodies orbiting in really close like that...some of these planets might be worth a bit of exploration. Who knows what all might be lurking down in the cooler depths of a vast, rocky canyon-world just at the edges of the Goldilocks-Zone like Kepler-11g?

3 comments:

  1. The sheer number of extrasolar planets we've discovered in the past few years is awesome when you think about it. 20 years ago, it was all speculation, now its reality many times over.

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  2. Lee Billings over at Boing Boing talks about Kepler's findings in the context of the framing question of the Age of Toxicity:

    "How much is a planet worth?"
    http://www.boingboing.net/2011/02/03/cosmic-commodities-h.html

    Bit of a wallbanger. His maths says Mars has a market value of $14,000 (in light of what we can currently do with it).

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  3. @Trey: Exactly--and what we're learning about these other solar systems is challenging a lot of preconceived notions and cherished beliefs. Kepler-11 alone is showing us massive planets really, really up close to their sun in a way that would have gotten an author's Science Fiction story rejected by Analog just a few years ago...

    @Chris: The Market Value of planets...guess it is time to post the bit about Brokers then...thanks for pointing that out--talk about missing the point. Did he even stop to figure in the amount of money made from all fictional uses of Mars as part of his calculations? Bet not. Doh!

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