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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Smallest exoplanet found

The European Space Agency informs that a new very small, less than twice the size of Earth, rocky planet has been found orbiting a star much like our Sun. Nevertheless the planet is in a very close orbit to its parent star, so much that a whole local "year" happens in only 20 of our hours. The temperatures in the exoplanet therefore must be around 1000-1500ºC.

The planet has been named COROT-exo-7b and no information is provided in the news release about where it is.

How many civilzations share the Galaxy?

In a somewhat related news article at the BBC, on a recent report at the Journal of International Astronomy by Duncan Forgan. He has simulated a galaxy like our own under different premises and the results are:

1. If life was difficult to form but evolves easly into intelligent forms, then the likely number of civilizations in the Milky Way is of 361

2. If life evolved easily but intelligence was difficult to achieve, then the likely number of civilizations is 31,513.

3. If life could migrate between planets and solar systems via asteroid collisions, then the number of civilizations would be something like 37,964.

So guess there are some 30-40,000 "alternative humankinds" out there and, more importantly, that this number is only conditioned by the difficulties that life could find to form, not by the difficulties of its evolution into intelligent (i.e. human-like) forms.

Contacting with them would be another issue, because of the huge distance involved any "conversation" could only happen in the course of centuries or even milennia, the shortest time needed for light (radio signals included) to travel between our respective planets.

Another issue not yet sufficiently pondered is wether there is really intelligent down here on Earth. I have some doubts, honestly.

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