Exoplanets: unrecognized milestones

Exoplanets: unrecognized milestones

Artistic representation of Kepler-186f. Image: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

The moon journeys proved that living beings are able to leave their world and to reach other heavenly bodies

It is difficult to decide which is more astonishing: the sensational results of the space research or the restrained echo in the public. So far astronomers have discovered over 1800 alien worlds. They are called exoplanets or extrasolar stellar companions. These are planetary stars like the Earth, but orbiting other suns. Almost weekly there are more. The consequence of the results is obviously misjudged. Otherwise the milestones of the research had to cause quite a stir.

"Once upon a time, the belief in planets around distant stars was reserved for science fiction writers." Thus on the world net side of the magazine "Spectrum of the science" to read. "Then, however, increasingly sophisticated measuring and spotting techniques turned the matter of faith into one of close observation – and lo and behold: exoplanets are apparently orbiting in all corners of the galaxy."

The sophisticated procedures by which science traces the planets outside the solar system are not easy to see through. This is probably the reason why the importance of the discoveries is underestimated. After all, among the distant celestial bodies there are almost fifty candidates for extraterrestrial life. They orbit their star at a distance where water appears in flowing form. Thus, creatures could thrive there like on earth.

Artistic representation of an Earth-sized exoplanet. Picture: NASA

A more recent discovery of this kind is "Kapteyn b", a companion of Kapteyn’s star at a distance of just thirteen light-years. This sun belongs to the so-called red dwarfs. This is how astrophysicists refer to smaller stars of coarse consistency. They are considered outstanding hotbeds of life, accounting for about seventy out of every hundred stars. Also "Kepler 186 f" orbits such a permanent planet. This exoplanet has also the same circumference as the earth. So the same Mab of gravity had to prevail there as well. From this it followed that life forms on "Kepler 186 f" had about the same coarseness as earthly ones.

Most of the promising worlds were tracked with the so-called transit method. Astronomers measure the light of a star with particularly sensitive equipment. When the luminosity temporarily dims, scientists are able to infer the coarseness, orbital velocity, and solar distance of a dark companion from the duration and severity of the dimness.

The precondition is, however, that the alien sun and its companion are approximately in line with the observers. But this happens rather rarely. It takes luck to find exoplanets in this way.

For comparison: The last Venus passage before the sun of 6. June 2012 was such an event. But this luck occurs on the average only every sixty years. Venus is a neighbor planet of the earth, thus astronomically seen before the Haustur. Also the disk of our sun takes itself in the relation to the tiny, point-shaped lights of the stars downright gigantic. This makes the observation of a planetary transit much more likely than for an exoplanet a few light-years away.

Conversely, observers on an alien world had to be roughly in line with the Sun, Venus, and Earth during transit. They found that at least two Earth-sized companions orbit the yellow M-class star in Orion’s arm of the Milky Way.

In spite of the rare circumstances, terrestrial astronomy has found an impressive number of planets with this method, and that in the immediate cosmic neighborhood. Scientists conclude that most stars are probably surrounded by planetary systems. That were hundreds of billions in one galaxy. The number of inhabitable worlds was correspondingly rough. Accordingly again the prospect grows that there are thinking beings there.

"There is life everywhere"

Life of all kinds seems to be common. A multitude of different forms of existence populate every corner of the blue planet. From the eternal night under the immense prere of the deep sea to the highly evaporated air above the rough mountains, it teems and swells. Life-cloaked beings defy desert heat and drought as well as blizzard and freezing frost at the Sud Pole.

Naturalists have even found life on lava-spewing vents at the bottom of the world’s oceans. Highly peculiar microbes settle in boiling water and feed on sulfuric acid. The outlandish beings are called archaea. They form a previously unknown sprob on the tree of nature.

The smallest animals of the same type live in the cooling water of nuclear reactors. They seem to like the radiation, which would be deadly for humans. An indelible race of kerosene guzzlers has taken up residence in the fuel tanks of commercial aircraft. The vapors of their favorite food alone were poison for the rest of the animal world.

The conquest of such remote niches shows: Obviously, forms of existence thrive everywhere, where the circumstances allow it only somehow. Neither cold, heat, prere nor radiation can decisively restrict their progress in fluids.

Water runs even where it had not been expected for a long time. Rolling robots have found evidence on Mars that streams, rivers, lakes and seas once covered the red neighboring planet. Space probes trace the fertile wet on moons of the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn. Thus the indications have consolidated to the certainty that it also bleeds on terrestrial planets, kreuz and flies. British astrobiologist David Darling concluded covenantly: "there is life everywhere."

In his book the "New aubenseiter science of the astrobiology" Darling announced a "long-awaited breakthrough". The researcher noticed:

Over the last decade, something unusual has happened. Without fanfare, scientists worldwide have reached agreement on one of the most far-reaching questions ever posed to the human mind:

Are we alone in space?

No!

Almost beyond all doubt it occurs elsewhere as well. At least in microbiological form it is generally common. Probably very soon we will find indisputable proofs of it.

David Darling

Praastronautics: Has anyone been there??

Darling’s subject, astrobiology, is a recent teaching. It combines the results of astronomy, which studies the structure of space, with the findings of biology, which studies plants and animals, including humans.

All living things have the urge to multiply and spread. The space offers the roughest conceivable possibility for development. This was allowed to be the deeper reason why people do space travel. Likewise, inhabitants of alien worlds will strive for other stars.

Exoplanets: unrecognized milestones

Front side of fragment A of the mechanism of Antikythera. Image: CC-BY-SA-2.5/uploaded by Marsyas

The lunar journeys have proved that living beings are capable of leaving their world and going to other celestial bodies. Mars, too, will sooner or later receive a visit from Earth. Planets of the next alien sun Toliman or Proxima Centauri form with four light-years probably a substantially more distant, but no fundamentally different goal. Just as well someone could have already set out from there to explore the solar system.

Four light years may be an insurmountable gap with the present state of the art. But the dizzying abysses of the universe are matched by equally impressive periods of time. The age of the part of space visible to us is estimated to be about fourteen billion years. Many of the red dwarf suns with life-friendly companions are considerably older than the day star that shines on mankind. We are not talking about a few centuries, but millions of years.

Inhabitants of worlds there had had thus much time to develop a more extensive space travel. The earthly pays just seventy years, if one goes back to the construction of the first operational coarse rockets in Peenemunde. With generation ships also astronomical distances can be bridged. In cold deep sleep one could travel for decades or centuries.

Messengers of more mature civilizations had thus had ample opportunity to visit the earth even before humans existed. This is the central idea of praastronautics, astronautics in prahistory, the knowledge of space travel in prehistory and early history. Although sometimes disregarded as an illusory science, it is no longer opposed by any known law of nature.

Representatives of this doctrine refer to findings like the aluminum wedge of Aiud in Romanian Siebenburgen. The stucco apparently dates from prehistoric times. But the extraction of aluminum in the purity present there has been achieved only in the recent past with the help of electric current from bauxite.

Equally puzzling is the origin of the mechanism of Antikythera. It concerns a clockwork from cogwheels, which among other things a balance gear contains. Presumably, the device was used to predict the movements of the celestial bodies. The beginnings of this technique date back to the fourteenth century at the earliest. However, the mechanism was discovered in the wreck of a ship that sank in pre-Christian times near the Greek city of Antikythera.