Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)

2/27/2014 (5 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.

Few people paid attention to the news yesterday when it was announced that the Kepler Space telescope had discovered 715 new planets orbiting distant stars, after all, it's just one more astronomical discovery that doesn't mean much to folks on Earth. -But actually, it changes everything.

Kepler only examined one patch of sky where most of the stars were over a hundred light years away. What happens when we look everywhere else? The deep sky is filled with planets.

Kepler only examined one patch of sky where most of the stars were over a hundred light years away. What happens when we look everywhere else? The deep sky is filled with planets.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/27/2014 (5 months ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Kepler, planets, Goldilocks, habitable, zone, worlds, intelligent, life, extraterrestrial, implications, discover, search, radio


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - With a single announcement, scientists have updated what we know about the space around our Sun. We now know of over 1,000 planets outside of our solar system and we can safely conclude that planets are both normal and common around stars.

Most importantly, about 20 percent of those planetary systems have planets which are small in size, similar to Earth, and orbit in the habitable zone around their parent stars.

St. Dominic de Guzman, the patron saint of astronomers
.

If these numbers were extrapolated out to the rest of the galaxy, it would mean the odds for intelligent life out there just grew many-fold times.This changes everything by dramatically increasing the odds for discovering intelligent life beyond Earth.

Conveniently, Kepler also identified which star systems are most likely to host planets that can support life, so scientists will know precisely where to look, which will make evaluation much faster. It's also worth noting that Kepler only studied a single patch of sky around the constellation Cygnus, the Swan. There's a lot more sky left to study.

Last month is was suggested we may discover evidence for life outside our solar system within the next twenty years. The discovery that possible life-bearing planets are more common than previously suspected means we could answer the question even sooner than that.

Scientists also made clear that they weren't finished yet. The discoveries were made using just the first two years of Kepler data. The telescope has been working since 2009, and another two year's of solid data are waiting for review. That data will certainly increase the number of candidate worlds for life that we know about.

The Kepler spacecraft discovered these planets because it was designed to look for the dimming of starlight as planets passed in front of the star. Scientists then looked for patterns of dimming which could only be caused by planets. By combining this with the predictable wobble planets have on their parent stars, which can easily be detected, they can determine with great precision how many planets, and what their masses and orbits are around each star.

Unfortunately, Kepler lost some of its functionality last year when some of its pointing equipment failed. The telescope is still operational, but it is now impaired and its mission is coming to an end. It will soon be replaced by a small fleet of improved telescopes designed to perform the same duties, but even better.

Other telescopes in the planet-hunting fleet will actually be used to seek signs of life on these distant worlds.

It is breathtaking to imagine that we are but years away from possibly answering one of the most fundamental questions about the universe. How common is life? Are we truly alone? For decades, astronomers have doubted our loneliness, but there has been zero scientific evidence accumulated to suggest otherwise. Yet, given the vast size of the universe, it also seems extraordinarily unlikely.

Is life common, or is it exceptionally rare? Whatever the answer may be, we are likely to be astounded by the conclusion. As Arthur C. Clarke once surmised, "Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying."

Pope Francis calls for your 'prayer and action'...

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Technology

Astronomers discover a 'magnifying glass' in space that acts like a time machine Watch

Image of Images which reveal the galaxies in question. They may look like pixels, however by examining light in fine detail with sensitive instruments astronomers can reveal a lot of basic knowledge about the objects.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Astronomers have discovered a virtual magnifying glass in space that allows them to look farther back in time than they normally can, to an age when the universe was young and contained less mysterious dark matter. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Astronomers ... continue reading


Amazing sight beheld on Saturn's moon: More than 100 geysers spewing forth Watch

Image of NASA's Cassini spacecraft first spotted the geysers as plumes in 2005.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The universe has offered up many amazing sights over the past years, but the most recent one seems to take it all. At least 101 geysers have been discovered erupting on Saturn's frozen moon Enceladus. This find suggests that it may be possible for liquid water ... continue reading


Here are 12 amazing images of outer space. Number 6 is our favorite! Watch

Image of Nebulae are created when great stars explode, scattering their guts across space where they form new stars and solar systems.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There are wondrous sights in the heavens above! Space is packed with treasures beyond imagination. While we can see many things with just our eyes alone, instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope have given us some incredible close-ups packed with amazing detail. ... continue reading


Astronomers crack mystery of 'transformer' star Watch

Image of The mysterious star switches between two states of energy output, baffling scientists -- until now.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Astronomers have discovered a star that seems to vary and vanish in a surprising fashion. They mystery may now have been solved. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Scientists observing a pulsar have been surprised to notice the star disappear and reappear in their ... continue reading


Apple dominates tech market as anticipation builds for iPhone 6 Watch

Image of The iPhone 6, expected to be released in September, is highly anticipated, and may be responsible for the slight increase in sales of iPhones.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Apple continues to do well in the market, as the company's flagship product, the iPhone, gained significant traction since March, and the Mac line of desktop computers also saw growth. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Apple sold 35.2 million iPhones over the ... continue reading


Latest claim: the universe might not be natural... Say whaa? Watch

Image of A map of the cosmic background radiation which permeates the universe. Note the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The nature and structure of the universe is one of the most enduring questions of the ages. Even the Book of Genesis addresses the topic. Presently, scientists are using modern scientific tools and methods to probe these mysteries and the preliminary results are ... continue reading


What is Microsoft up to? After this rambling memo, even its employees don't know! Watch

Image of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is planning to eliminate almost 20,000 jobs by 2015.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Software giant Microsoft announced that it is going to cut 18,000 jobs by 2015-about 14% of the company's 125,000 employees, by far the largest amount of layoffs in the history of the company. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Most of these layoffs-12,500-will ... continue reading


Mars Rover finds massive iron meteorite Watch

Image of NASA has now published the combined image. A preliminary analysis has been made of what the meteorite is made from.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What will they find next on the surface of Mars? Just recently, NASA's Curiosity rover came across a massive iron meteorite half buried in the sands of Mars. The space agency has dubbed the find "Lebanon." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The two-meter-wide ... continue reading


Ever wondered why North America doesn't have any elephants? Scientists have the answer Watch

Image of A new study suggests that the earliest American natives hunted to extinction, a precursor to modern elephants.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Clovis people, thought by many archaeologists to be the original native Americans, hunted to extinction the precursors to modern elephants that lived alongside them in North America, new scientific evidence suggests. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This ... continue reading


Jesuit Brother gains prestigious award for astronomy Watch

Image of Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno received the coveted Carl Sagan Award for 2014, by bringing an enthusiasm for science to the general public.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Jesuit brother has been awarded the Carl Sagan Medal for 2014 for his radio shows and public lectures on astronomy which helped generate interest in scientific inquiry among the general public. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The American Astronomical ... continue reading


All Technology News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 26:11-16, 24
11 The priests and prophets then said to the chief ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 69:15-16, 30-31, 33-34
15 Let not the waves wash over me, nor the deep ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 14:1-12
1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 2nd, 2014 Image

St. Eusebius of Vercelli
August 2: Christians who breathed a sigh of relief when Constantine ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter