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Old 16th October 2012, 09:23 PM   #1
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Earth-sized planet found orbiting one of the closest stars to our Sun!

Nearly 1,000 planets have been found so far. It is estimated that there are at least 100 billion planets in our galaxy alone*. cite for both.

*There are an estimated 100 billion to 500 billion galaxies in our universe.

Today not only was (AFAIK) one of the lowest mass planets verified, but it is also the closest to us. It is orbiting a star only 4 light years away, which is (AFAIK) the closest neighboring star to our Sun.

Unforunately it is orbiting too close to its star to support life.

Though, they are not ruling out a habitable planet in the same system.

http://www.slashgear.com/earth-sized...auri-16252300/

Quote:
Earlier today, astronomers announced the discovery of an exoplanet called 51 Pegasi b orbiting Centauri B, part of a system that is one of our solar systemís closest neighbors. The star is the lowest-mass planet discovered to date, with a mass almost identical to Earth. Although close to Earth and similar in mass, itís also close to its star, meaning itís very hot and very uninhabitable.
ETA: That article has the planet name wrong, it is probably "Alpha Centauri Bb".
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Old 16th October 2012, 09:32 PM   #2
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I don't think this article is right. 51 Pegasi b could not possibly be orbit in the Centauri system
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Old 16th October 2012, 09:51 PM   #3
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51PegasiWP:

51 Pegasi (abbreviated 51 Peg) is a Sun-like star located 50.9 light-years (15.6 parsecs) from Earth in the constellation Pegasus. It was the first extrasolar Sun-like star found to have a planet orbiting it ....On October 6, 1995, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz announced the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting 51 Pegasi (known as 51 Peg b, or Bellerophon).

They (slashgear.com) appear to be a bit behind the curve. ...and somewhat under the wheel.

The Alpha Centauri system is the only star(s) that are within 5 light years of Earth. The next closest one, Bernard's star, is just a skotch under 6 ly away.

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Old 16th October 2012, 09:53 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by MG1962 View Post
I don't think this article is right. 51 Pegasi b could not possibly be orbit in the Centauri system
You're right, I think the slashgear author skimmed the Nature article, saw 51 Pegasi b mentioned as the first exoplanet discovered orbiting a sun-like star, and assumed it was the name of the new planet.

http://www.nature.com/news/the-exopl...t-door-1.11605

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Old 16th October 2012, 09:55 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by MG1962 View Post
I don't think this article is right. 51 Pegasi b could not possibly be orbit in the Centauri system
Indeed. Chinese whispers news/churnalism. The story traces back to this press release:

http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1241/

FWIW the correct name for the planet is probably Alpha centauri B b
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Old 16th October 2012, 09:55 PM   #6
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The new planet is actually named Alpha Centauri Bb.

Pronounced, I assume, "Alpha Centauri B-flat".
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Old 16th October 2012, 09:57 PM   #7
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I believe the planet would actually be A Centauri B b. Or possibly A Centauri Bd I haven't seen anything yet on the naming convention for planets orbiting a component of a binary star system
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Old 16th October 2012, 10:06 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by MG1962 View Post
I believe the planet would actually be A Centauri B b. Or possibly A Centauri Bd I haven't seen anything yet on the naming convention for planets orbiting a component of a binary star system
Since Gamma Cephei Ab is an accepted name Alpha Centauri Bb would logicaly follow.
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Old 16th October 2012, 10:11 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
Since Gamma Cephei Ab is an accepted name Alpha Centauri Bb would logicaly follow.
That's what the wikipedia article indicates:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraso...lanet_standard
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Old 16th October 2012, 10:14 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
Since Gamma Cephei Ab is an accepted name Alpha Centauri Bb would logicaly follow.
However the wrinkle in the idea is a C component already exists
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Old 16th October 2012, 10:19 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by MG1962 View Post
However the wrinkle in the idea is a C component already exists
Proxima Centauri would be Alpha Centauri C with an upper case "C". Planets are with one exception lower case.
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Old 16th October 2012, 10:24 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by shadron View Post

The Alpha Centauri system is the only star(s) that are within 5 light years of Earth. The next closest one, Bernard's star, is just a skotch under 6 ly away.

Don't forget Proxima Centauri, which seems to be separate from the 2 Alpha Centauri stars according to this list:

http://www.astro.wisc.edu/~dolan/con...a/nearest.html
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Old 16th October 2012, 10:28 PM   #13
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http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/ba...-has-a-planet/

Originally Posted by Phil Plait
The planet orbits close in to Alpha Cen B, and is technically called Alpha Centauri Bb Ė planets have lower case letters assigned to them, starting at b.
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Old 17th October 2012, 04:29 AM   #14
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Since ths planet (Bb) is so close to its parent star, I am assuming that the gravity field of B dominates. At what point do we start getting into the three body problem? Could either A or B host a stable orbit for a planet in the HZ?
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Old 17th October 2012, 06:30 AM   #15
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Old 17th October 2012, 06:32 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by OnlyTellsTruths View Post
Don't forget Proxima Centauri, which seems to be separate from the 2 Alpha Centauri stars according to this list:

http://www.astro.wisc.edu/~dolan/con...a/nearest.html
Proxima Centauri orbits the two main Alpha Centauri stars. It happens to currently be in a position within its orbit where it's a little closer to Earth than the two primary stars. But it's a gravitationally bound member of the overall Alpha Centauri system.
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Old 17th October 2012, 06:37 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by LarianLeQuella View Post
Since ths planet (Bb) is so close to its parent star, I am assuming that the gravity field of B dominates. At what point do we start getting into the three body problem? Could either A or B host a stable orbit for a planet in the HZ?
Yes although formation may be a bit tricky.
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Old 17th October 2012, 07:04 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by shadron View Post
51PegasiWP:

51 Pegasi (abbreviated 51 Peg) is a Sun-like star located 50.9 light-years (15.6 parsecs) from Earth in the constellation Pegasus. It was the first extrasolar Sun-like star found to have a planet orbiting it ....On October 6, 1995, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz announced the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting 51 Pegasi (known as 51 Peg b, or Bellerophon).

They (slashgear.com) appear to be a bit behind the curve. ...and somewhat under the wheel.

The Alpha Centauri system is the only star(s) that are within 5 light years of Earth. The next closest one, Bernard's star, is just a skotch under 6 ly away.
I believe that might be "Barnard"
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Old 17th October 2012, 07:16 AM   #19
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So you're telling me those lazy scientists have finally gotten around to finding the planet Nibiru that's going to collide with Earth on December 21?
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Old 17th October 2012, 07:46 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by LarianLeQuella View Post
Since ths planet (Bb) is so close to its parent star, I am assuming that the gravity field of B dominates. At what point do we start getting into the three body problem? Could either A or B host a stable orbit for a planet in the HZ?
As far as I am aware we don't have the maths to build a scenario as you describe. I have seen models that show a sustainable accretion disk orbiting both stars.

With the centauri system A and B have a very elongated orbit, which pretty much spells doom for any planets trying to orbit the mutual center of gravity
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Old 17th October 2012, 09:18 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Soapy Sam View Post
I believe that might be "Barnard"
Might be. Probably is.
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Old 17th October 2012, 10:12 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by OnlyTellsTruths View Post
Unforunately it is orbiting too close to its star to support life.
Itís only 6 million Km from its star, which would put it much closer than Mercury. It orbits in only 3.2 days.
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Old 17th October 2012, 11:35 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
Itís only 6 million Km from its star, which would put it much closer than Mercury. It orbits in only 3.2 days.
That's about 1/25th of an AU, isn't it?
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Old 17th October 2012, 11:56 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by OnlyTellsTruths View Post

Unforunately it is orbiting too close to its star to support life.
Why not?
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Old 17th October 2012, 12:38 PM   #25
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Isn't Barnards star the fastest moving star?
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Old 17th October 2012, 12:45 PM   #26
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Barnard's Star has fastest apparent movement from our point of view. Comes from it being a) one of the closest stars, b) moving almost perpendicular to our viewpoint. Its speed with respect to galactic center is not unusual.
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Old 17th October 2012, 12:53 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by shadron View Post
Might be. Probably is.
It's nursie.
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Old 17th October 2012, 12:58 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
The new planet is actually named Alpha Centauri Bb.

Pronounced, I assume, "Alpha Centauri B-flat".
I see a revival of musica universalis.
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Old 17th October 2012, 12:59 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Undesired Walrus View Post
Why not?

See my post above. This planet is orbiting at only 6 million Km. At its closest Mercury is 30 million Km from the Sun.

The orbit of this planet around its star is closer to that of the moon around the earth than it is to the earth around the Sun. Itís so close to its star that it only takes 3 days to complete an orbit.

Originally Posted by Madalch View Post
That's about 1/25th of an AU, isn't it?

That looks about right
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Old 17th October 2012, 01:24 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by OnlyTellsTruths View Post
Unforunately it is orbiting too close to its star to support life.
Life as we know it? Or life, period? Genuine question. Is there an upper temperature for any definition of "life" and if so, what is the limiting factor?
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Old 17th October 2012, 01:45 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Pup View Post
Life as we know it? Or life, period? Genuine question. Is there an upper temperature for any definition of "life" and if so, what is the limiting factor?
We can only make predictions about life as we know it- water-based life that would only exist between 0oC and, say 100oC (and not generally that extreme). As a chemist, I have a hard time imagining what kind of solvent system would be stable at, say 800oC, and what kind of life-like molecules would be stable in such an environment.
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Old 17th October 2012, 02:55 PM   #32
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James Cameron was right! There is a small moon orbiting a gas giant in Alpha Centauri which shields it from the binary rays, and there we will find 10 foot tall panther elves.

Do not deny me this.
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Old 17th October 2012, 03:05 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Stellafane View Post
"They found us, Will Robinson!"
Yep, this was the first thing I thought of too
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Old 17th October 2012, 03:09 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Pup View Post
Life as we know it? Or life, period? Genuine question. Is there an upper temperature for any definition of "life" and if so, what is the limiting factor?
I agree it is presumptuous to say that life cannot exist there.
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Old 17th October 2012, 03:33 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Halfcentaur View Post
James Cameron was right! There is a small moon orbiting a gas giant in Alpha Centauri which shields it from the binary rays, and there we will find 10 foot tall panther elves.

Do not deny me this.
Dammit! Someone beat me to the Avatar linkage.

You guys can keep your Alpha Centuri BaAbB naming convention malarkey for this one alright, but if they find a planet in the habitable zone, its getting called Pandora and thats that!!
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Old 17th October 2012, 06:03 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Foster Zygote View Post
I see a revival of musica universalis.
The question is:
Is it an accidental, or a Key?
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Old 17th October 2012, 06:15 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Skwinty View Post
Isn't Barnards star the fastest moving star?
No. See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellar...velocity_stars
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Old 17th October 2012, 06:20 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Pup View Post
Life as we know it? Or life, period? Genuine question. Is there an upper temperature for any definition of "life" and if so, what is the limiting factor?
The ability to form long range structures with a reasonable degree of stability and flexibility.

In this case temp is only one problem. That close to a star we would expect the solar wind to strip off anything remotely liquid and the whole place to be hammered by hard radation with would rip apart any remaining structures. Unless you are going to argue for non baryonic life (which the physics suggests is unlikely to say the least) I think we can rule out the possibility of life.
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Old 17th October 2012, 06:57 PM   #39
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Phil Plait tweeted that an earlier study showed that not only should Alpha Centauri B should have planets, that many of the Monte Carlo results showed that there should be an earth-sized one in the Habitable Zone. That may still be the case, I would think, and it just hasn't been detected yet. Linky: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/ba...-have-planets/
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Old 17th October 2012, 07:05 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by LarianLeQuella View Post
Since ths planet (Bb) is so close to its parent star, I am assuming that the gravity field of B dominates. At what point do we start getting into the three body problem? Could either A or B host a stable orbit for a planet in the HZ?
They've been together for quite a while. I'm sure they've worked things out amongst them.
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