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[–]Shnoochieboochies 2794 points2795 points  (217 children)

When will we have technology to actually see them though instead of just artists impressions to make us all moist?

[–]gretafour 949 points950 points  (63 children)

SpaceTime has a good video on the challenges of imaging exoplanets and some ideas on how to overcome them. YouTube link

[–]Mattonicide 307 points308 points  (24 children)

My favorite thing about SpaceTime is they actually dive into a bit of math and some of the underlying principles of what they are discussing instead of treating it like magic for kids. Sort of like an adult version of a learning channel.

[–]postingisstupid 99 points100 points  (16 children)

If you enjoy SpaceTime you might enjoy Isaac Arthur's channel as well. He talks more about sci-fi concepts but doesn't ignore actual science and doesn't try to dumb it down, which I love about him.

His most recent video was about Evacuating Earth and realistic options for doing it.

[–]Dragonslayer_Berserk 30 points31 points  (5 children)

Upvoting all day for Isaac Arthur, his channel is awesome!

My cousin is reading a sci-fi novel about Dyson spheres, self-replicating exploratory drones, etc, and we were able to have a pretty in-depth conversation on the plot, based on a lot of the concepts I'd seen on his channel.

[–]ZombieBlarGh 6 points7 points  (1 child)

I like to listen to his videos in bed :p fascinating stuff!

[–]RoadRageRob666 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Ill see you tonight, then ;)

[–]sleven3636 2 points3 points  (2 children)

Would that book happen to be we are legion?

[–]spiffybaldguy 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I second this, Isaac Arthur does a fantastic job covering a wide range of space topics.

[–]zorbat5 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Never knew this channel til now. Gonna binge watch tonight!

[–]Rob_Dead 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Can't recommend Isaac Arthur's channel highly enough.

Depth, humor, and genuine passion in every presentation.

[–]Hadouken_Handshake 5 points6 points  (1 child)

Great stuff!! Subbed to both now.

[–]Kittyionite 17 points18 points  (2 children)

As I study chemistry and quantum mechanics I find it harder to believe that science isn't just magic.

[–]Baconator004 11 points12 points  (1 child)

As someone who doesn't understand how quantum mechanics work, it's comforting to know that people who do still think it's magic.

[–]Kittyionite 14 points15 points  (0 children)

"I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics." -Richard Feynman

I tried to think of something to say afterwards, but I give up.

[–]TheBeardofGilgamesh 13 points14 points  (0 children)

they even give homework!

[–]imGnarly 5 points6 points  (0 children)

a bit of math

they use very complex math models in some of their videos, which they do in an awesome fashion, because they never use such math if they haven't done a previous video introducing to the subject… I love those guys

[–]afrosamurai666 10 points11 points  (0 children)

This is one of my favorite channels ever.

[–]popperlicious 23 points24 points  (4 children)

his head.....does not match his body. why cant i stop thinking of that.

[–]Hothrow3 7 points8 points  (0 children)

He needs to get jacked badly, head too big and masculine for body

[–]feralalien 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I could be totally wrong but I think it's in part due to the height the camera films from and him being superimposed.

For instance, if you filmed from the floor and superimposed someone into a neutral background without contextual clues showing you were filming from the floor, their bottom half would look really big.

[–]n010fherear 3 points4 points  (0 children)

damn, never even heard of that channel, thx for the link very cool cool cool ^

[–]theleadinglegend 37 points38 points  (55 children)

I firmly agree with you, but actually the thing is that the invention of such a technology will take a hell lot of time. But till we invent such tech, the only thing which we can do is to try to develop a franework which will explain all the aspects of universe itself.

[–]aristotle2600 13 points14 points  (54 children)

Do we not have the technology? I thought you could get better resolution with larger telescopes, which you can emulate with distributed telescopes, which we can do already?

Political will is another story, of course.

[–]binarygamer 54 points55 points  (36 children)

To get a nice HD true color photo of an exoplanet, you'd need a lens kilometres wide. At those distances, it's not so much a limit of technology, as there just aren't enough photons reaching us to make a picture from a collector the size of a current day telescope.

Expolanets are annoying deep-space targets for eye candy photography. Compared to, say, a distant galaxy or nebula, they are spinning, moving and changing direction quite fast, so we can't just collect light from them for weeks on end.

Distributed telescope arrays in visible light spectrum do exist. Spaced out telescopes are a great cheat for increasing angular resolution, but still only capture as much light as their total collector area. For HD photos, we want to capture a lot of light. Unfortunately, making observatory-quality lenses to the same size as even existing radiotelescope dishes would be prohibitively expensive.

[–]ignorantwanderer 63 points64 points  (13 children)

Let's figure out exactly how many km wide we need our telescope:

According to the journal article, the star is 183 parsecs away. That is 597 light years or 5.647e+18 meters.

Now lets say that to get a good photograph, we need to have a total of 1000 pixels across the diameter of a planet. This might not be considered "HD" but it would be a very impressively detailed photo of a planet. If the planet is Earth sized, that would mean 12 km per pixel, or 12000 meters per pixel.

So the angle we would have to resolve would be 12000 m / 5.647e+18 m =2.13e-15

Using info from this page and choosing red light as our wavelength so we can get full color:

2.13e-15 = 1.22 * (750 nm)/(diameter of telescope in nm)

So the diameter of the telescope is = 4.30e+17 nanometers

That is the same as 430,000 km.

So to get a nice detailed photo of one of these planets, you would need a telescope 430,000 km across. That is larger than the distance from the Earth to the moon.

Of course you could have two free-flying space telescopes that are that distance apart. The two challenges with this approach is that you have to be able to measure the distance between the two telescopes to within half a wavelength of light. Not that easy when they are 430,000 km apart. Also, you have to collect enough light to get a picture, which would be a challenge.

[–]binarygamer 11 points12 points  (10 children)

He did the math! Thanks man, I lazied out tonight but I'm glad you went ahead.

That's actually a lot worse than I thought it'd be. To get that kind of separation in a stable configuration, you'd have to go into solar orbit. Even with battleship-sized lenses separated by a half-million km, and using laser interferometry for rangefinding, we're still not ready. Light capturing power sufficient to create an image before the exoplanet's spin blurs it would require lenses so big, we might as well just give up.

[–]ignorantwanderer 19 points20 points  (9 children)

Ok, now to figure out the size of the lens.

Let's assume we need 10 photons/pixel to get an accurate idea of the color. In our picture, our planet has a radius of 1000 pixels, so for the entire circle, we have pi*r2 = 786,000 pixels, times 10 photons per pixel gives us 7.86 million photons we have to collect.

For the next bit of the calculation, we will assume that the planet orbits a star identical to the sun, at the same distance we are from the sun, and that it reflects 100% of the light that hits it.

Sunlight hitting the Earth delivers approximately 1370 Watts/m2 to the top of Earth's atmosphere. So over the entire surface of the Earth, we get 1.75e+17 Watts over the entire planet. We will assume the planet we want to look at gets the same amount of energy, and then reflects it all away.

So when the surface that faces us is fully illuminated, there are 1.75e+17 watts coming in our general direction. (Of course it would appear extremely close to its star at this time, making it difficult to see, but we will ignore that issue).

For simplicity, we will assume that all of that energy radiates out evenly into space over half of the planet. This isn't true. But there is a limit to how much math I'm willing to do here.

So by the time it reaches us, 1.75e+17 watts is spread out over half a sphere with a radius of 5.647e+18 meters. This is 2.74e-21 watts of reflected energy from the planet hitting each square meter of our telescope.

We need to take a long exposure to collect as much energy as possible, but if the planet is rotating we can't take too long of an exposure because then the picture will be blurry. So let's assume we can have each point on the planet move by half a pixel while we take the picture without it effecting our picture much. The center of the planet at the equator is the point that will move the fastest from our perspective, and it is moving at a rate of 1/2 pixel in 1/1000th of a day. We will assume day length is the same, so that comes out to an exposure time of 86 seconds.

At 2.74e-21 watts for 86 seconds we collect 2.36e-19 Joules. The energy of a red photon is about 3e-19 joules! Holy crap! I never would have expected the numbers to be so close!

So we will just assume that in 86 seconds, we get 1 photon for each square meter of telescope. We said we need 7.86 million photons, so that means 7.86 million square meters.

Our telescope must have a radius of 1581 meters, or 3 km across.

And we need 2 telescopes like that!

[–]binarygamer 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Wow, this time the numbers are better than I expected! Let's fix that.

If we consider that the target is a planet (rather than a perfect mirror) and take Earth's albedo into account (about 0.3), the required collector area increases to 26.2 million square metres, and diameter hits 5.7km each.

[–]ignorantwanderer 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Ah, but I can push it back the other way by pointing out that these planets are much closer to their host star than Earth is to the sun. This means they are being hit with much more energy than the Earth is. So that would reduce the size of the collector.

I wonder what the current state-of-the-art is with regards to pointing telescopes. We need to point the telescope accurately enough to get the planet, but not get the star. In fact all of my calculations assume the planet takes up the entire field of view, which implies we have to point the telescope with an accuracy of 2.13e-15 radians. According to http://hubblesite.org/the_telescope/hubble_essentials/quick_facts.php the Hubble telescope can point with an accuracy of 7/1000 of an arc second. Which means 3.4e-8 radians. So we just have to point the two telescopes about 16 million times more accurately than we can currently point Hubble.

If we can make a lens that is kilometers across, we can probably also figure out the pointing thing.

[–]Snuffy1717 2 points3 points  (10 children)

Could we put a space-based telescope array around other orbiting bodies (as well as the Earth), and then use the distance between them to increase our observational quality?

[–]binarygamer 4 points5 points  (9 children)

The problem with photographing exoplanets is very limited exposure time. All those glossy HD photos of distant galaxies and nebula were achieved with exposure times of days to weeks, broken into chunks of a few hours at a time. With an expolanet, you have just a few hours, possibly minutes before the planet's spin and motion blurs the image into a smeared blob.

A space based telescope array could allow us to improve resolving power (resolution/magnification), but it won't help us collect light any faster, so it won't complete our quest for glossy exoplanet photos.

If we were to build a space-based exoplanet telescope array one day, it would be for scientific purposes, like better detection and more precise tracking, enabling us to create a better model of the planets' orbits and forecast their positions more accurately. You would definitely have all the scopes in orbit around the same body though - either Earth, or the Sun itself. Scattering them between different planets in the solar system will just make it harder to setup, harder to transmit the data back, and wildly impossible to precisely track their relative positions well enough to construct a combined image.

[–]PMmeMotoxGIRLS 2 points3 points  (7 children)

We need to use quantum entanglement to distribute two photon bombs. one heading in the direction of "particular system of interest", and the other sent to orbit Earth. We simply detonate the Earth bomb when its pair is close to the system. This would cause a "flash" and provide us with copious amounts of photons so we could photograph these planets....... disclaimer : am currently high AF ..... and hungry...

[–]binarygamer 1 point2 points  (4 children)

Don't worry, you gave me a good chuckle

Unfortunately we probably can't do much better than the "photon bomb" that's already right next to the planet (its sun). Imagine making a camera flash that could light up Earth better than the Sun can... it would probably take more power than the entire global nuclear arsenal.

[–]I426Hemi 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Blow up their sun so our photon bomb can illuminate target planet like planned. Easy.

[–]binarygamer 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Those are called supernovas. Can't image the exoplanet if it doesn't exist! black man taps forehead

[–]icestarcsgo 4 points5 points  (9 children)

Forgive my ignorance, I just have a passing interest in space stuff. Isn't one of the big issues for us related to light pollution? Would installing a telescope array on the moon alleviate some of that difficulty?

[–]Alvari1337 9 points10 points  (1 child)

You're not wrong! However, when we're talking about Light Pollution, it's not only from cities here on earth etc. As /u/poisonedslo also pointed out, we have telescopes in space, which would fix this problem. But rememeber that we are currently inside a galaxy ourself. There's a lot og light comming from our very own galaxy, and since we're inside it, it makes it hard to look outside the galaxy. It's also full of dust, which doesn't make it easier either. We're basicly sitting inside a massive headlight, full of dust even, trying to look out into the darkness around us, and the thing clueing us in on where other planets are, are when they pass through other headlights.

(I appolegise for any mistakes here, this is pretty much off the top of my head from my astrophysics class)

[–]justycekh 2 points3 points  (0 children)

So it’s almost like trying to spot a dust particle in my neighbors head light while passing him on the road? Time to tell billy his headlights might harbor life as we know it.

[–]GlacialStriation 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Regardless of light pollution, the main problem with ground-based telescopes is indeed atmospheric interference. That’s why many of the bigger telescopes are located at higher altitudes where the atmosphere is thinner.

[–]poisonedslo 0 points1 point  (2 children)

We have space telescopes in use. Also, there are areas of earth that are not very light polluted.

[–]icestarcsgo 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I know we have ones in Hawaii for instance for that reason, and that we have space ones like the hubble and james webb, but I also know that we have large arrays (I think it's actually called the Very Large Array), is there any benefit to having a Very Large Array on the moon rather than on earth?

[–]poisonedslo 0 points1 point  (0 children)

VLA is not capturing visible light. It captures radio frequencies in 74 MHz-50GHz range. Due to the directionality and massivness I doubt our signals produce much interference. Having it on moon would probably work better, but we’re not talking magnitudes here

[–]WeAreTheSheeple 2 points3 points  (5 children)

You can't see other solar systems planets with a telescope on earth due to the brightness of the solar systems star. Only way we can really detect the planets is due to the star dimming slightly when the planet passes the star on the side that is facing earth. The dimming is very slight depending on the size of the star and planet which makes it difficult to detect with the human eye. Computers have been getting used recently to detect the star dimming, hence why more and more systems are being detected. Takes a lot of looking and time to see if the orbit is synchronised to tell if it is a planet or not.

[–]Feruk_II 1 point2 points  (1 child)

That's not entirely accurate... We have directly imaged a number of planets. Only downside is they're huge and the image quality isn't great. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_directly_imaged_exoplanets

[–]theleadinglegend 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This type of tech will only allow us to get a better view of space, but it will not show us what is hidden We surely have made a great leap in tech but we still r far from the big one. By the way, i agree with you on the politics concept.

[–]Ghuurd 68 points69 points  (46 children)

If only humanity spent as much resources on exploration as it spends on home planet devastation.

[–]kopecs 58 points59 points  (42 children)

I always wonder what would happen if every country decided that a world without intercontinental war and tribulation ceased to exist and we all worked together toward interstellar exploration. Sadly I feel like religion (no offense to anyone who is religious) is one of the key issues to being able to work together in ways like this. It's sad really...

[–]WriterV 33 points34 points  (8 children)

It goes a lot deeper than religion though. We are tribalist by nature, and we often seek to find sides in literally anything. From the most ridiculous mundane shit to the most serious and horrifying, we always seek to find two sides (or occasionally, a third), and start berating and attacking the other for having the opposite ideas/opinions.

Honestly, if it's every possible to edit out whatever genes cause this tribalism thing to occur, it may be best for the human race to do that. Why let further future generations be inflicted by this disease if we can cure them?

[–]JizzMarkie 23 points24 points  (1 child)

We are tribalist by nature, and we often seek to find sides in literally anything.

That goddamn dress was blue and black.

[–]MyNameIssPete 2 points3 points  (3 children)

The only way to wipe is by standing up and if you sit down, fight me

[–]Whitey_Bulger 29 points30 points  (6 children)

I think religion is often leveraged by governments to motivate their people to fight and distrust others, but actual wars are almost always waged by governments for pure power politics motivations. If religion didn't work, they would find something else.

[–]vbahero 13 points14 points  (5 children)

e.g. Nationalism

[–]nonagondwanaland 11 points12 points  (4 children)

The entire Space Race was based on nationalist dickwaving, but tell me more about how it doesn't advance science. Anything that promotes competition drive advancement.

[–]Madmans_Endeavor 4 points5 points  (3 children)

Well yeah but the idea is that much more could get done if people pooled resources and cooperated instead of dick-waving.

The engineering problems behind a moon base would be the same whether it was an international effort or a lone country. the only difference is access to skills and resources.

The only reason stuff got done during "the dick -waving era" of the space race was because the dick-waving lead to more funding. It is not, however, and actual requisite for that finding to exist. Bad priorities are the reason why it had to take nationalist fervor to throw enough money at the issues to actually make progress.

[–]nonagondwanaland 2 points3 points  (2 children)

Well yeah but the idea is that much more could get done if people pooled resources and cooperated instead of dick-waving.

That's the claim. It's rarely backed up by anything but the claim itself. If the Soviets had "pooled resources" with America to explore space, Kennedy would never have issued the lunar challenge. The best example of cooperation, the ISS, isn't exactly out exploring Mars. It's useful, and a great achievement, but hardly groundbreaking.

The engineering problems behind a moon base would be the same whether it was an international effort or a lone country. the only difference is access to skills and resources.

The economic problems with a moonbase do not magically get solved by holding hands and singing. You need a reason to setup a moonbase, and that reason has to be either competitive or profitable. The current best reason is a far-side radio telescope, and the reason anyone would cooperate on it would be to get priority telescope time for their own scientists. Which boils down to nationalist dickwaving.

The only reason stuff got done during "the dick -waving era" of the space race was because the dick-waving lead to more funding

Correct.

It is not, however, an actual prerequisite for that funding to exist

You're contradicting the actual experience of every space program post-cold-war. NASA's budget is a shadow of it's peak funding. Ruscosmos isn't doing any significant exploring. The new players India and China are pretty much competing with each other to be the Next Big Dick.

Bad priorities are the reason why it had to take nationalist fervor to throw enough money at the issues to actually make progress.

And what do you propose to solve it? 90% of the population does not and will never care about exploration in the absence of competition. Congress only cares insofar as their constituents get paid. "Well if people spent money how I want, things I want would happen!" is as useless a statement as it is silly.

[–]skyblublu 32 points33 points  (2 children)

I'm not super devout , but am religious and yes you are correct. It leads to walls between people and wars to be fought... it's sad. Part of the reason I'm not super devout is that I don't believe I need to spread my beliefs and convert others.

[–]qitjch 19 points20 points  (0 children)

I wish more people shared your attitude about it.

[–]polite_alpha 6 points7 points  (0 children)

If everyone would think like you we wouldn't have this problem.

[–]agifford9 6 points7 points  (3 children)

It’s really more a result of the millions who DON’T practice what their religion teaches. The vast majority preach peace, tolerance and cooperation. Evil intent exists. Only by trying to change our nature are we able to experience peace as a planet. Less religion seems to be creating less peace, not more.

[–]iwishihadmorecharact 1 point2 points  (2 children)

The problem is, when your reasoning is “because i said so”, it’s easy to be convinced of just about anything. While many preach peace and tolerance, it's just as easy to preach violence. In contrast, preaching extremism would not convince nearly as many in a university lecture.

[–]agifford9 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I was with you until your last line. Antifa and anti-free speech on the universities disagree with you.

[–]Chikuaani 4 points5 points  (1 child)

So were waiting for what happens in Stellaris videogame.

Whole world unites under one country after meaningless wars, and then we reach for the stars as a joint-force.

[–]nonagondwanaland 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Not really, the hyper-religious crusader countries aren't really the ones that would be doing great things in space, maybe except Saudi and Israel, and both of those are increasingly secular. The real problem is economics. If it isn't economically viable to do something, it won't get done. No, communism isn't a better answer. The answer is waiting for technology to reach a point where what you want is feasible, and roll the dice on Howard Hughes analogues like Elon Musk to push the tech sector.

[–]masamunexs 1 point2 points  (2 children)

The only situation where I can imagine the governments of the world would be willing to work together is if we are faced with a true and immediate existential threat. It's not religion, it's the nature of existence, we've been fighting with each other since before we had the cognitive ability to even think about it.

[–]Wh1teCr0w 1 point2 points  (0 children)

we all worked together toward interstellar exploration.

It's definitely interesting to consider. I think a civilization similar in age to ours, without such setbacks would be orders of magnitude more advanced.

[–]tidus_the_one 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Oh the answer is simple. They know we already fucked up big time, only logical to reach for the stars!

[–]ShibuRigged 14 points15 points  (3 children)

[–]whosekhalifa 5 points6 points  (1 child)

You know what he means though. A picture of the planet in the visible spectrum rather than an artist's impression.

[–]szech1sauce 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Within the next 10 years. The planned Wide-field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) will have a coronograph which can block out the light from a star so we can directly image an orbiting planet. Also, there's at least two extrasolar planets that we have directly imaged already.

[–]toomanynames1998 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Hey! These artists impressions-made thanks to blender, etc-are pretty difficult to make. That's why they almost always have a set to use, rather than making the images according to how "just" maybe the planets, star, etc would look like.

[–]Nail_Biterr 1 point2 points  (0 children)

i dunno... tomorrow?

[–]pipsdontsqueak 1 point2 points  (4 children)

I can't find the post, but a few months ago someone had a real video of the TRAPPIST-1 system orbits taken over several months. I wish I could find it again. It was just fascinating watching another solar system's planets moving.

Edit: It was HR 8799. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HR_8799_Orbiting_Exoplanets.gif

[–]FEwood 1 point2 points  (2 children)

We have it now. A solar system wide interferometer with multiple space telescopes could resolve features on individual planets. We just don’t choose to spend the money.

[–]jackisasquirrel 1 point2 points  (1 child)

What, like multiple telescopes at various points it past the orbits of gas giants?

[–]JPSYCHC 1 point2 points  (0 children)

There is an example or two of actual photos of exoplanets. Of course, the spectrum is altered so that we are seeing certain parts of the spectrum (I.e. infra red) that would normally not be visible), but it is still 100% captured data being manipulated interpreted, no artistic impression or guess work involved.

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/bad_astronomy/2012/11/exoplanet_pictures_astronomers_have_photos_of_alien_planets.html the first example in this article shows an actual picture of the first ever directly observed exoplanet.

[–]Starklet 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Wait till the James Webb telescope it could be possible

[–]FragmentOfBrilliance 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Probably never? Unless we go there of course

[–]kastid 436 points437 points  (22 children)

All five of them inside 10% of the earth-Sun radius? There must be some gravitational tug-of-war there. Small star, or perhaps young system?

[–]ilofty 218 points219 points  (16 children)

Possibly a young system. If it is, then there will almost definitely be some collisions between these planets.

Depending on how far away it is, we may be able to see it happen (happened?) and get some incredible knowledge on how our own solar system could have possibly started.

For all we know these 5 planets orbit 1 sun and are just the perfect distance away from each other to not collide and what we are seeing is a result of the collision already happening long ago, and these exoplanets are what's left

[–]vargo17 51 points52 points  (11 children)

In my mind, I'm just imagining 5 exoplanets in the same or it exactly forming an equilateral pentagon around this sun. Don't ruin my physically impossible, poorly conceived stellar formations!

[–]LordBran 40 points41 points  (0 children)

It’s called the Lucifer System

Edit: Since they rotate, the planets makes a circle for rotation, and the pentagon in relation to each other.... pENTAGRam

[–]suitology 8 points9 points  (9 children)

Huh. All I'm picturing is a real version of that deep tattoo hipster girls get with all the Planets close to each other

[–]Assassin4571 6 points7 points  (1 child)

Interested to see what you're talking about

[–]DaddyCatALSO 3 points4 points  (6 children)

Solar system tattoos are now a popular feminine accouterment?

[–]CumbrianCyclist 17 points18 points  (2 children)

(happened?)

This always blows my mind.

[–]ilofty 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Yeh same here, it's weird thinking we see this stuff in the past due to the light travelling to us being "old light" if you will (and from a sun that isn't ours!), and yet a lightyear is a measurement of distance, not time.

[–]F4t45h35 2 points3 points  (0 children)

This is the best part to me.

[–]narf007 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I'm having a hard time finding the distance from Earth but if it's near, or is the same as, Kepler-138 then it might've already had a few collisions!

Kepler-138 is about 200 light-years from Earth. There could've been a collision 2 years before the founding of the Astronomical Society of London.

The cosmos are so freaking cool. The realization that a formal group dedicated to studying the stars hadn't been formed when the light from this system left.

I know it's a very common statement when discussing the cosmos but damn it never stops being fascinating.

[–]PaulRPP 10 points11 points  (0 children)

The periods of the five planets are 2.35, 3.56, 5.40, 8.26, and 12.76 days, forming an unbroken chain of near 3:2 resonances.

From this paper. The resonance of the orbits are likely stabilizing. The universe truly is amazing for things like this to form naturally.

[–]jondiced[🍰] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Old system and the planets have found a stable configuration. The abstract of the paper says: "The periods of the five planets are 2.35 d, 3.56 d, 5.40 d, 8.26 d, and 12.76 d, forming an unbroken chain of near 3:2 resonances."

[–]Lost-Cartographer 160 points161 points  (12 children)

I was a part of the crowd looking through the Kepler data for exoplanets, found some, and since this hasn't been made clear: you can join the search, right now, and discover things. It's fun and fascinating, and you accidentally learn stuff along the way.

Go to Zooniverse.org, and find a project that interests you. The project the article was about is "Exoplanet Explorers", but there are many more projects available (even searching for exoplanets there is more than one project); there is all kinds of crowdsourced science there, from projects to find the theorized ninth planet of our solar system to Mars studies to ecological studies here on earth).

They're all fairly simple to get started, and usually involve you being shown examples of the kind of thing to look for, then clicking through images to find some, using the powerful pattern recognition and noise filtration of the human brain. That sounds boring, but a lot of them are fascinating and addictive - the Kepler data for example doesn't just indicate exoplanets, as you see more and more examples of the data on stars, you start to recognise different kinds of things going on in each star system, and normal vs unusual vs WTF, and there is a comments page for each data set - normally no comments on something unremarkable, but discussion on the unusual stuff, etc. In some other projects, you're actually training AI on how to find the thing, etc.

The last time I checked on smartphone (about a year ago) the interface wasn't working very well on phone, it was better on computer, but hopefully that is fixed now? [Edit: Reaver_01 points out below that there is now the Zooniverse phone app!]

I've personally discovered a few things, such as a previously uncharted brown dwarf passing near our solar system (there are lots). Theoretically you could get your name in a paper but that depends a lot on how a project is structured so I don't expect that, if you do it for the glory you'll be disappointed :-p Do it for the science and the fun :-) Anyway, check it out.

[–]t3hmau5 48 points49 points  (2 children)

That site directed me to a kids site about unicorns

[–]Lost-Cartographer 15 points16 points  (0 children)

Oops, it's .org not .com. Fixed!

[–]jbmass 6 points7 points  (2 children)

Are we notified when one of our findings is confirmed to be an exoplanet?

[–]Lost-Cartographer 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Sometimes, usually, it depends on the project. (Each project is unrelated and independent - a different team of researchers, a different field, a different university, etc, so different groups set things up differently and handle things differently). Often you have to be a little proactive, such as mark "favorite" on your best finds so you can easily check back on them a few weeks later for any updates or team comments.

(And if you've been on the project long enough to be very familiar with it and maybe followed it into some more advanced stuff (like how to check against databases of known objects yourself), sometimes you won't need someone else to confirm before you know that the data you found is quite clear.)

[–]FPettersson 6 points7 points  (0 children)

check against databases

Thanks for the tip about checking against databases.

Found this, which I believe looks kind of good. I'm a complete newbie though, so I might be way off. I mean, there is a small dip around ph = 0.5, which I guess could mean it's a binary star? But then again, the dips are rather small (I believe?), so I'll be hoping for the best!

Anyways, so I checked the NASA Exoplanet Archive for the nearby star, "2MASS J15342184-2336204", which I found out about through ExoFOP, and it looks like there are no confirmed Exoplanets around that star. Which means that if someone looks at the image because I clicked "yes, this looks like a planet" and proceeds to check if it is indeed a planet, I might've contributed to finding the first planet around that star!

Good shit.

[–]DezzlieBear 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I participate in Zooinverse and I love it. I love the wildlife camera projects.

[–]lightknight7777 218 points219 points  (32 children)

Honestly, due to how solar systems form, shouldn't most stars be multi-planet systems?

I don't see people discussing that probability. But there's almost no way planets wouldn't form.

[–]alllle 118 points119 points  (22 children)

Solar system generally refers to our own system, the term planetary system refers to extrasolar systems.

Generally, our limitation in ability to observe smaller planets means that we cannot really confirm if or if not most stars contain systems with multiple components. Most of the exoplanets observed are massive gas giants.

Currently there are some 600 multiplanetary systems known.

[–]lightknight7777 22 points23 points  (10 children)

Cool, thanks for the response and the distinction of terms.

I'm not really asking about what we have observed or confirmed. I'm asking about theory here. If we expect to find that the vast majority of stars probably have, have had or are developing multiple planets as a natural result of star formation and the way the dust/gas balls form a disk from which planets should form.

[–]danielravennest 17 points18 points  (6 children)

I'm asking about theory here.

Here is a review paper covering the theory.

In summary, the formation of planets is a consequence of stars forming from collapsing nebulae. Any gas cloud has some random initial rotation. Angular momentum is a conserved property, so as the cloud contracts, it spins faster and flattens. The central region gets hotter and denser, producing temperature and rotation differences across the disk. This creates turbulence, which can initiate clumping of condensed grains.

From there, it is a matter of runaway accretion, as larger objects have more gravity to pull in material. The larger objects in turn create rings in the remaining disk due to gravitational resonance (see the Asteroid Belt and Saturn for examples). The rings present multiple locations for additional objects to grow. Later on, gravity effects and friction with the remaining gas cloud can scatter or move around the initial set of planets.

Our evidence for all this comes from observation of disks with rings around young stars, and multi-planet systems around older ones.

[–]lightknight7777 4 points5 points  (5 children)

Well yes, this is how stars are formed and how we know planets form in this disks. But my question is, shouldn't this be very very common if our star formation theory/observations are correct? Like, common to the point that stars without planets should be rare?

[–]danielravennest 11 points12 points  (1 child)

We don't know how often planetary formation is disrupted. For example, binary and higher multiple stars are quite common, and most stars are thought to form in clusters. Close interactions in these situations could disrupt the orderly formation of planets.

How fast the gas cloud dissipates is another reason to lose planets. The discovery of numerous close-orbit planets where it would have been too hot for them to form indicates they spiraled in from friction. It is possible the entire planetary system could be swallowed this way.

So the percentage of stars with zero larger bodies in orbit is unknown. For now, we think that number is relatively low, but we don't have enough data to pin it down to 1, 5, or 30%.

[–]alllle 4 points5 points  (2 children)

I'm not an expert on the subject and rather would not speculate; maybe someone will come who has more knowledge on the subject.

[–]lightknight7777 1 point2 points  (1 child)

That's an excellent reply to give if you don't know. Thanks for being honest.

I'm just curious if we should even be surprised or excited when we find more ones or reserve our excitement for the actual details we learn.

[–]Ahrily 1 point2 points  (0 children)

It would be weird for a star to not have planets, except for when the star is super massive (gravity pulls planets into the star) or when the star was part of a star cluster (bigger stars steal planets)

[–]NathanFillingIn 1 point2 points  (9 children)

Okay so if we were in a different planetary system and we were harnessing the power of that systems star, I’m assuming we couldn’t call that “solar power”?

[–]alllle 4 points5 points  (4 children)

Our star's latin name is Sol, hence the 'solar'. Still, we could probably call it solar power, though this is more of an etymology/linguistic question.

[–]szpaceSZ 2 points3 points  (0 children)

But every star is a sun (sol) of its planets.

Some pedants use "areostationaty orbit", but others acknowledge that words can gain semantics removed from their strict etymology (well, this is literally true for all words you use in casual everyday conversation... Or when did you think about it, that "eight" actually means "spiky", coming probably from the # of knuckles?) and use "geostationary" also for satellites around Mars that stay above the same spot of the surface.

[–]NathanFillingIn 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Seems like the same thing you just corrected that other user for, an entomology/linguistic issue

[–]A_Vandalay 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Most likely are but our ability to see exoplanets is currently very limited. the easiest planners to see are called hot Jupiter’s these are gas giants orbiting within 1 AU of their Star. Other smaller planets are far more difficult to confirm as are planets orbiting farther out. Thus we get a distorted picture about other solar systems as having only one or two of these gas giant planets.

[–]morph113 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I think that's currently the common census on this topic. The minimum amount of planets in our galaxy is believed to be 100 billion, but a more likely figure would be somewhere over 1 trillion planets. I'm not an astronomer but I spend almost every day on astronomy privately.

The common census is that planets are very common and the majority of stars have a planetary system. There are estimates that the milky way could have around 40 billion earth sized planets, of which about 1/4 are in the habitable zone of a sun-like star or red dwarf.

As far as I know, this common census is based on two things. The way planets and planetary systems form and observations of nearby stars. I mean the amount of exoplanets found has basically exploded in the last 10 years or so and estimates on how many planets could be in the milky way are getting higher and higher numbers each time we discover many planets around nearby stars.

[–]Ginkgopsida 1 point2 points  (0 children)

That's not the case for the first "primordial stars". Allthough they are long gone. In the following animation you can see that many multi-planet systems have allready been discovered:

https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/resources/1018/

[–]hevisajd 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Yeah, that seems logical to me too. It is difficult to see planets that somehow don't cross the light path, but I think every star has planets around it.

[–]Ironbird207 69 points70 points  (5 children)

Doesn't eve online have a mini game that crowd sources this type or data?

[–]moo_L 20 points21 points  (0 children)

yes it does! I don't like it that much because I keep failing haha

[–]AradinaEmber 11 points12 points  (1 child)

Yes! It's called Project Discovery.

[–]PM_me_some_happyness 10 points11 points  (1 child)

planethunters.org Why did they not link it in the article? Have fun hunting planets! :)

[–]ErrorlessQuaak 5 points6 points  (0 children)

This is a different project

[–]knightmare_kid 48 points49 points  (33 children)

Am I the only one here who doesn't know what crowdsourcing is?

[–]SquiDark 47 points48 points  (11 children)

There's tons of images of galaxies lying around, and a website called Galaxy Zoo let people sort the galaxies like playing a game. I think that's an example of crowdsourcing.

[–]NiceBreaker 76 points77 points  (9 children)

EVE online, a space MMO, also is involved in the project I believe. They get players to classify real solar systems in a mini game, incentivised by exclusive rewards in game. Pretty cool.

[–]LordBran 34 points35 points  (1 child)

That’s actually really fucking cool

[–]Ahrily 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Happy round around the sun!

[–]Cebraio 20 points21 points  (0 children)

Yep. Called Project Discovery. They did crowdsourcing for the Human Protein Atlas before. https://community.eveonline.com/news/dev-blogs/exoplanets-the-next-phase-of-project-discovery/

[–]jdroepel 15 points16 points  (1 child)

I was wondering if these results were from Project Discovery. (That's the name of the mini game in EVE.)

Edit here is a link https://www.eveonline.com/discovery/

[–]eliottlerouge 4 points5 points  (0 children)

We are currently analysing the data from Project Discovery here at the Geneva Observatory. I think we'll publish some result this quarter.

[–]SquiDark 4 points5 points  (1 child)

wow that's far more game-y than I thought.

[–]yodongorea 1 point2 points  (0 children)

You have to put effort in if you want something good to come out.

They could have half assed it. And then they could have another pile of shite that people can point to and call a waste of money and effort.

But I think the space program already has enough of that, don't you?

[–]asimovinator 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I used to help categorize galaxies on Galaxy Zoo, it was always so exciting seeing a beautiful spiral! Maybe I'll start doing it again

[–]whitedsepdivine 11 points12 points  (2 children)

It is when people rather use their extra CPU time to help the progress of mankind instead of mining bitcoin.

I really regret doing this now.

[–]thuck 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Or do both at the same time with Gridcoin :-)

[–]FPettersson 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Thanks for mentioning that. I've been using BOINC for a while, but hadn't heard of Gridcoin. Now I'm helping science and (hopefully) making a little bit of money on the side. :)

[–]DerWasserspeier 19 points20 points  (4 children)

Through a site called zooniverse.org thousands of citizen scientists help sift through data that computers aren't capable of figuring out yet.

Most of of projects on the website are based on the fact that humans can instantly look at data or an image and can just see what it is, but computers would still face difficulty. In many of the projects, the people are actually helping to train the computer for future projects.

It is a really cool website to contribute to if you are ever bored! You would literally be helping to advance scientific knowledge!

[–]MMantis 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I love zooniverse and help out whenever I can! I was definitely doing the exoplanet thing last year so I wonder if I was a tiny part of this finding?!

[–]DoverBoys 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Crowdsourcing is getting a whole bunch of people to do a little of a project instead of a dedicated group crawling along by itself. It’s a physical version of folding@home or gofundme. It’s also related to how torrents work, you get a lot of computers to upload a little bit of a file instead of one server giving you the file slowly.

[–]kimogjong 2 points3 points  (0 children)

same but i googled it

[–]bouncer- 2 points3 points  (0 children)

It's basically distributed computing using human brains. In other words, you let many people independently solve small pieces of a puzzle so that they indirectly can solve a bigger puzzle. Source: am scientist in this field.

[–]AlwaysSnowyInSiberia 30 points31 points  (26 children)

Out of curiosity, how many trillions of miles distant is it?

[–]CanadianNomad 70 points71 points  (18 children)

I wanted to know in school bus lengths, otherwise I can't picture it. /jk

[–]kursoryglance 68 points69 points  (12 children)

According to this http://iopscience.iop.org/0004-637X/767/1/28/ K2-138 is 217ly (±24ly) from Earth. So, if a U.S. school bus is 45ft long it would take 149,666,670,000,000,000 (~150 quadrillion) school busses.

[–]Nomriel 40 points41 points  (5 children)

okay but how many in Toyota Corolla?

[–]kursoryglance 24 points25 points  (4 children)

441,639,340,000,000,000 (~441 quadrillion) 2017 Toyota Corollas (length is 15.25 feet).

I have too much time on my hands...

[–]Casual_ADHD 9 points10 points  (2 children)

Fidget spinners?

[–]dopamingo 4 points5 points  (0 children)

If the average fidget spinner is 3 inches long and a US school bus is 45 feet, then it’s about 180 fidget spinners per bus, times 150 quadrillion buses, so 27,000 quadrillion fidget spinners.

[–]CreativeName1357 1 point2 points  (0 children)

But how much planet Earths would it take to get there?

My uneducated guess would be a few billion

[–]bfought 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Not too bad. Just a few jumps in my Asp Explorer.

[–]skyblublu 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Holy shit. A tolerance of 24 LY haha I wish I could design something with as much tolerance as that.

[–]astral_crow 21 points22 points  (0 children)

I like my measurements in blue whales.

[–]42Sheep 15 points16 points  (5 children)

If I'm reading this correctly, it's 183 parsecs away (plus/minus 17).

In commonly used measuring systems that's approximately 411.8 teraschoolbuses or 231.7 terabluewhales.

[–]gangreen424 3 points4 points  (1 child)

183 +/- 17 parsecs, or roughly 15.25 +/- 1.4 Kessel Runs*.

*Assuming the smallest Kessel Run is approximately 12 parsecs. Some say it can be done in less than 12, but I don't buy it.

[–]jjonj 1 point2 points  (0 children)

What kind of shit navigational computer do you have that you can't do it in less than 12? Must be some republic-era shit

[–]Moag14 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Terabluewhale sounds like a Pokémon name.

[–]aishik-10x 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Or maybe an AI/ML library

[–]cturkosi 1 point2 points  (0 children)

About 3500. One parsec is a little over 19 trillion miles.

[–]Katnipz 8 points9 points  (4 children)

Alright time to start the crowed funded space travel

[–]napazdosenhor 2 points3 points  (4 children)

What does the Kepler data look like, and how is it possible for "laymen" to sift through it and actually be able to discern planets?

Edit: Grammar!

[–]zeeblecroid 4 points5 points  (2 children)

You can take a crack at it right here - they explain how it's done and it takes like two minutes to get started.

[–]alllle 1 point2 points  (1 child)

That is not the same project that resulted in this finding. The project that resulted in this particular finding can be found on https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/ianc2/exoplanet-explorers.

The project you linked is also of course very useful and part of the zooniverse framework too.

[–]MMantis 1 point2 points  (0 children)

For this one, it was a graph of the light intensity of the star and you had to select the dips in light (sorry if I'm not wording this right), the dips corresponding with planets passing in front of the star as viewed from Earth.

[–]rwolfe13[🍰] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I love the Space Subreddit, mostly for topics like this <3

[–]doobtacular 2 points3 points  (0 children)

You know you're high out of your mind when you find a multi-planet system through crowd surfing.

[–]Silver013 1 point2 points  (6 children)

The article states that citizen scientists went through Kepler data to find the system. Anyone know their method?

[–]FACE_HECK_FASCISTS 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I worked on this.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doppler_spectroscopy is how we found and sorted through everything idk if that's what you're asking though.

[–]WikiTextBot 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Doppler spectroscopy

Doppler spectroscopy (also known as the radial-velocity method, or colloquially, the wobble method) is an indirect method for finding extrasolar planets and brown dwarfs from radial-velocity measurements via observation of Doppler shifts in the spectrum of the planet's parent star.

582 extrasolar planets (about 29.6% of the total) were discovered using Doppler spectroscopy, as of April 2016.


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[–]Musical_Tanks 1 point2 points  (3 children)

I remember there being a website out there that showed you some Kepler data, just a graph with the star's luminosity plotted. They presumably had people going through thousands of these graphs to identify dips in luminosity that looked out of place, with many people looking at the same graphs identifying the drops they thought could be planets.

[–]alllle 3 points4 points  (2 children)

The website is zooniverse.org, and it also contains many other interesting citizen scientist projects.

[–]zaid_mo 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Curious how the analysis of the data was crowd sourced. Similar to the SETI @ home program where people download packages and run a tool to search for patterns? Was this a case where many stars were observed and they checked for light fluctuations which indicate a planet was passing by? The article is light on the details. Also, how far from Earth?

[–]42Sheep 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I believe this goes a little deeper into the crowd sourcing aspect.

It's 183 parsecs, (plus/minus 17).

[–]CrashdummyX 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Every time I see something like this and get reminded at the sheer size of the universe and all things we don't know, I get goosebumps.

[–]OMG_Its_TL 1 point2 points  (3 children)

Now all we are missing is FTL travel and something like a Mass Relay

[–]doglywolf 1 point2 points  (0 children)

People say finding planets that far out is useless because of how long it would take to get there, im gonna laugh at all of them when we figure out how to fold space and make wormholes which just about all of physics agrees is possible

[–]Glip-Glops 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Those are exo-planets which have a different definition than planets. For example, if we spotted pluto orbiting another star, it would indeed be classified as an exo-planet, even tho it isnt a planet.