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Researchers discovered that Proxima b has the right climate for oceans. And extraterrestrials.

Last year, scientists from the U.S., Israel, the U.K, Chile, Poland, Germany, Spain and France discovered an "Earth-like" planet. This planet is juuuust outside our own solar system, only four light years away – that's nothing if you're a flashlight beam! It orbits a red dwarf star called Proxima Centauri, so the scientists creatively dubbed it "Proxima b."

So here's the big deal about Proxima b: It's in a spot that's not too hot or too cold for life. In fact, researchers at France's National Center for Scientific Research think it could be an ocean planet, just like our own.

The scientists proceeded to argue (as scientists are wont to do) over whether the planet could actually sustain life. But thanks to a new series of experiments, the researchers think it could be home to an alien society.

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Okay, so that's a little bit of an exaggeration. No little green men or interstellar burger joints spotted thus far. But the experiments do suggest that Proxima b likely has a climate that could support life. The scientists modeled the planet using different atmospheres, amounts of radiation and orbits. Findings from the setups looked promising.

“Overall, our results are in agreement with previous studies in suggesting Proxima Centauri b may well have surface temperatures conducive to the presence of liquid water,” the scientists wrote.

Meanwhile, on Proxima b, a team of alien journalists flying star-powered spaceships are writing about their own discovery: a Proxima b-like planet orbiting a yellow dwarf star known to its inhabitants as "the sun." They're thinking of calling the planet "sun b" (not to be confused with "Sunny D," an alien beverage made of chemicals probably not native to our galaxy).

Source: This article was fromthegrapevine.com By Ilana Strauss

Categorized in Science & Tech

What would it take to hide an entire planet? It sounds more like a question posed in an episode of “Star Trek” than in academic discourse, but sometimes the bleeding edge of science blurs with themes found in science fiction.

Of course we’ve been leaking our own position to distant stars via radio and television signals for six decades now, largely ignorant of the cosmic implications. But several notable scientists, such as Stephen Hawking, have publicly voiced concerns about revealing our presence to other civilizations. These concerns largely draw from the darker chapters of our own history, when a more advanced civilization would subjugate and displace a less advanced one.

It might be too late for us to withdraw back into invisibility, but maybe not for other intelligent alien civilizations out there. A far-off planet’s inhabitants might prefer to hide from the likes of us. Recently, my graduate student Alex Teachey and I published a paper that proposes a way to cloak planets, as well as a way to broadcast a civilization’s existence. Even if we’re not manipulating our own signal in this way, it doesn’t mean other planets out there aren’t. It’s possible what we see as we scan the universe for other habitable planets has been engineered to disguise or highlight the existence of other civilizations.

Tracking transits to find other planets

Before we talk about how to hide a planet from distant voyeurs, consider the best way we’ve figured out to find one.

Humanity’s most successful technique for detecting other planets is the transit method. A transit occurs when a planet appears to pass in front of its parent sun, blocking out some of its starlight for a few hours. So if we have our telescopes trained at one part of the universe and a star seems to fade out for part of a day, that tells us that a planet has temporarily come between us as it goes about its orbit.

Using this technique, NASA’s Kepler Mission has discovered several thousand planets.

It seems likely that any advanced civilization would be aware of this simple method. Each time a planet transits its star, its existence is essentially being advertised to all points lying along the same plane as the planet and star.

An advanced civilization might be okay having its planet’s location, size and even atmospheric chemistry advertised across the cosmos. Or it might wish to conceal its presence. If the latter, it might choose to build a cloak.

A planetary invisibility cloak

It turns out that hiding planets from the transit method would be surprisingly easy, so easy that we earthlings could do it right now, if we chose. Since transits appear as a brightness decrease of a distant star, our hypothetical cloak simply produces the opposite brightness increase.

Lasers provide an efficient means of countering that dip in brightness. All a laser’s power is contained in a relatively narrow beam, as opposed to spreading out in all directions like starlight does. Due to the way light spreads as it travels – called diffraction – the laser beam would spread to encompass entire solar systems after journeying many light years across space, bathing that distant planetary system within the cloaking beam. No dip in brightness makes it look like there’s no planet there at all.

A laser cloak capable of hiding the Earth from an alien version of NASA’s Kepler Mission would require 30 megawatts of power at peak intensity, approximately equivalent to 10 wind turbines worth of power output.

While Kepler sees light in only one color, advanced civilizations might use more sophisticated detectors capable of collecting light at all wavelengths. Here too, our current technology could cloak us using modern tunable lasers, for a cost of about 10 times more power overall. More advanced civilizations might be able to detect other fine details of the light’s properties, betraying the cloak. But here too there’s no reason why with a little bit of work we couldn’t engineer solutions, leading to a near perfect cloak which could be targeted at distant stars where we suspect someone might be home.

Why choose to hide

So yes, it sounds like science fiction, but even current technology could do a fine job of cloaking the Earth’s transit signature.

Forget the Earth though; we never really thought of this as something humanity should or should not do. Instead, we posit that if our rudimentary human technology can build such an effective transit cloak at relatively little economic cost, then more advanced civilizations may be able to hide from us with respect to all detection techniques. The universe might not be all that it seems.

Why might a civilization choose to wrap itself in invisibility? It could be a sort of insurance policy: find the nearby planets with potential for supporting life and turn on a targeted cloak – just in case a civilization ever emerges. Such a policy effectively buys them time to reveal their presence when they see fit.

Given how cheap such a cloak would be, an insurance policy for your home planet is perhaps not as strange as it seems. It’s certainly not implausible a civilization might want to bide its time – surveilling the neighbors for a while before rolling out the intergalactic welcome mat. But there’s a flip side to this technology that could turn it from an invisibility cloak into more of a we-are-here spotlight.

The reverse: flick on the beacon

Perhaps not all civilizations are xenophobic – some might want to talk. If you wanted to reveal your presence to other civilizations as cheaply and unambiguously as possible, how might you do it?

Imagine looking at some data of a distant planet – which has become a somewhat normal enterprise for astronomers – and noticing something weird. The signature of the planet has a strange shape – in fact, none of your models are able to explain it. It looks like someone has imprinted a series of spikes into the data, following the prime number series. Nothing in nature can do this – you have just detected another civilization’s beacon. Alternative use of the cloaking system’s laser could be to make a planet’s signal look highly artificial, instead of hidden. Now they don’t care about building the perfect cloak; they want to be found!

Could such signals be lurking in our existing measurements? Perhaps so. No one has ever looked, and we hope our work sparks efforts on that front. It may be a long shot, since to even get to this point we need to try to imagine how aliens might think – but given the scientific prize on offer it’s also worth it. If we identify a strange transit, it may well contain information encoded via laser light pulses. Huge volumes of information could be hidden within the transit signatures of other planets.

For us, this was an exercise in intellectual curiosity. We simply calculated how much energy it would take to either cloak or broadcast a planet’s existence. Whether we should seriously consider wrapping Earth in a protective cloak of invisibility – or conversely, getting serious about trumpeting our existence – via laser manipulations is something we should all decide together.

David Kipping, Assistant Professor of Astronomy, Columbia University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Categorized in Science & Tech

The universe is practically bursting with stars and planets but some exoplanets are more important than others, particularly when it comes to the prospect of discovering alien life. We are getting closer every day to finding an exoplanet that is harboring extraterrestrials, as evidenced by the recent discovery of LHS 1140b, which has a lot of similarities to Earth and orbits a star that is only 40 light years from us. It hangs within that solar system’s habitable zone, the distance from each star where the temperature is just right to support liquid water, one of the signs our scientists look for when they search for potential alien worlds.

But until we visit these other planets and take a look around, we won’t know for sure. That’s especially since some scientists believe many potentially habitable exoplanets are entirely submerged in water — we would need to go for a scuba dive to find anything alive out there. So when it comes to our best bets for finding the aliens, how does LHS 1140b compare to other habitable exoplanets scientists have found?

lhs1140b
Astronomers recently discovered LHS 1140b, an Earth-like planet orbiting red dwarf star LHS 1140 only 40 light years from our solar system. Photo: MEarth/ESO

LHS 1140b

First, the facts about the most recent exoplanet discovery, LHS 1140b. It’s a rocky planet in that cozy habitable zone that gets about the same amount of energy from its relatively small and cool star as we do from the Sun. Experts say its surface might contain liquid water and the planet might be holding on to an atmosphere, which is not as common as it sounds. It’s also estimated to be about 5 billion years old — that’s a little older than Earth, so life has possibly had enough time to develop.

kepler-186f

Kepler-186f is the first exoplanet scientists discovered in a star’s habitable zone that is comparable to the size of Earth. Photo: NASA/JPL

Kepler-186f

This rocky planet was the first one comparable in size to Earth found within another star’s habitable zone, whereas all the previous discoveries were of much larger orbs. Every 130 days it completes an orbit around a red dwarf that is about half the size of our Sun and about 500 light years away. The Kepler-186 system also has four smaller planets, but they are so close to the star, they would be too hot to support life.

trappist-system
Three of the seven planets in the TRAPPIST-1 solar system are within the habitable zone, and all of them could potentially support liquid water and alien life. Photo: NASA/JPL

TRAPPIST-1

Earlier this year, scientists announced they had discovered an intriguing solar system of seven rocky planets around the size of Earth orbiting a star together. Three of those planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system, 40 light years away, are within the habitable zone. But all of the planets potentially hold liquid water because the star they orbit is relatively cool — it doesn’t matter that they are all closer to their star than our scorched first planet Mercury is to our Sun.

“The planets also are very close to each other,” NASA said. “If a person were standing on one of the planet’s surface, they could gaze up and potentially see geological features or clouds of neighboring worlds, which would sometimes appear larger than the moon in Earth's sky.”

To make things more interesting, their weather might be crazy because it’s possible the planets orbit in such a way that the same side is constantly facing their star, “therefore each side is either perpetual day or night.”

kepler-22b
Kepler-22b was the first exoplanet NASA’s Kepler mission discovered in a star’s habitable zone, opening up a new world for us in outer space. Photo: NASA/JPL

Kepler-22b

Is the original the best? Kepler-22b was discovered several years ago and was the first planet NASA’s Kepler mission discovered within another star’s habitable zone. Unfortunately, it is 600 light years away. On an average day, Kepler-22b is a comfortable 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and it orbits a star similar to the Sun once every 290 days

Source : yahoo.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

“It neither came from outside nor inside the spaceship, but sounded like someone is knocking the body of the spaceship just as knocking an iron bucket with a wooden hammer,” China’s first astronaut told China’s Central Television.

Yang Liwei,  who is China’s first astronaut and now a major general, told the TV channel that he heard a knock ‘time to time’ during his time in space.

He added that after his return to earth, he told technicians about the mysterious sound and even tried to imitate it with some instruments but no instrument made the exact sound, so the mystery remains unsolved.

china-astronaut

“It neither came from outside nor inside the spaceship, but sounded like someone is knocking the body of the spaceship just as knocking an iron bucket with a wooden hammer,” Yang said.

Yang, born in June 1965 in northeastern Liaoning Province, is China’s first astronaut and now a major general.

In 2003, he became the first person sent into space by the Chinese space program. His mission, Shenzhou 5, made China the third country to independently send humans into space.

Liwei claimed that the sound was also heard by other Chinese astronauts.

Author:  Web Desk

Source:  http://arynews.tv/

Categorized in Science & Tech

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