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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Are there other planet earths out there?

Astronomers have found as many as six new planets orbiting nearby stars that are very similar to our sun.
Two of the planets are "super-Earths," rocky planets with masses five and 7.5 times the mass of Earth. They are the first super-Earths to be found around a sun-like star, the researchers say.
"These detections indicate that low-mass planets are quite common around nearby stars. The discovery of potentially habitable nearby worlds may be just a few years away," said Steven Vogt of the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Australian, American and British astronomers found the planets using the Anglo-Australian Telescope in New South Wales, Australia, and the Keck Telescope in Hawaii.
This graphic shows the orbits of the three newly found planets orbiting 61 Virginis superimposed on the orbits of planets in our solar system. This graphic shows the orbits of the three newly found planets orbiting 61 Virginis superimposed on the orbits of planets in our solar system. (Chris Tinney) Three of the new planets orbit the star 61 Virginis, a star about 28 light years away, visible in the constellation Virgo. The star is the most similar to our sun of our closest stellar neighbours.

The smallest of the three planets is 5.3 Earth masses and orbits its star once every 4.2 days. The astronomers say the planet is locked into synchronous rotation, like the moon's orbit around the Earth, so one side always faces the star.
The largest of the three is 24.9 Earth masses. The orbits of all three planets would fit inside the orbit of Venus.
"These planets are particularly exciting," said team member Chris Tinney of the University of New South Wales. "Neptune in our solar system has a mass 17 times that of the Earth. It looks like there may be many sun-like stars nearby with planets of that mass or less. They point the way to even smaller planets that could be rocky and suitable for life."
The other super-Earth found orbits a star called HD 1461, another "twin" of the sun, located 76 light years away and visible in the constellation Cetus.
The planet is 7.5 times the mass of the Earth, although the researchers aren't sure whether it is a large rocky planet or a planet consisting of gas and ice, like Uranus and Neptune.
A Jupiter-sized planet was also found orbiting a sun-like star, 23 Librae, found 84 light years away in the constellation Libra. The planet has a 14-year orbit, very similar to Jupiter's 12-year-orbit.
None of the planets were observed directly, but were detected by observing the telltale wobble of their stars produced by the planets' gravity.
The research appears in this week's issue of the Astrophysical Journal.


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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.