February 16, 2014
A Goldilocks Planet Just a Dozen Light Years Away?
Lee Billings says we should build a space telescope capable of finding habitable worlds. Hear him, hear him!
A Goldilocks world is not too big, causing it to be smothered beneath thick layers of gas. It is not too small, so that its atmosphere drifts away. It is neither scorchingly close nor frigidly far from its star, which, like our Sun, is sedately middle-aged and midsized. Instead, a Goldilocks world resides where temperatures could be just right for liquid water, the cornerstone of life. Statistics suggest that such a planet exists within a dozen light-years of us.
Let us find these planets and then aim radio telescopes at them.
Randall Parker, 2014 February 16 09:16 PM
Having a telescope capable of finding life on exoplanets would be wonderful. But I don't know when we'll actually get one. Maybe it's time for Australia to get back into a space project. We've been quite good at dodging bullets such as the space shuttle and the International Space Station but I think we might be able to get behind something that's a bit more practical than them. We could call it the search for New Australia as the chance of finding a place that is mostly uninhabitable is no doubt much higher than finding a place that is mostly habitable.
If we found places with industrial pollution in the air or with other signs of civilisation we certainly would turn our radio telescopes towards them, but the chances of there being a civilisation close enough for us to pick up their radio leakage seems remote. Despite what a lot of science fiction has taught me, the chance of their being two nearby civilisations at roughly the same level of technological development is probably extremely small.
How many stars are less than 12 light years away?
Phillep, there are 22 star systems within 12 light years of our sun but you only have to go out to 15.3 light years to double the number of star systems to 44. Since there can be more than one start in a system there are about 35 stars within 12 light years of earth.