earthlike planet

It’s a perennial question: Are there other Earth-like planets – or planets full of life – out there?

New research suggests that Earth-like planets are actually pretty common, according to an analysis of the results of Nasa’s Kepler mission. As the diameter of a planet decreases, its frequency increases. Once the diameter reaches twice the diameter of Earth, it remains about the same.

If you love astronomy like we do, then this news should be exciting. The research focused on Earth-like stars in a similar orbit as Mercury, but the article noted that “further evidence suggests that the fraction of stars having planets the size of Earth or slightly bigger orbiting within Earth-like orbits may amount to 50 percent.”

This is timely news, especially as the availability of resources on our planet becomes more worrisome. We finally have new planets for us humans to dominate and exploit of resources. We can skip any lessons in moderation — our galaxy is a treasure trove of planets waiting to be harvested!

Not to mention all of the food. Orion’s baked space-beef. Soda made from corn starch from the corn planet Gliese 876 d.

And it only gets better if there is intelligent life. Let’s get some space wars going on. Finally something to unite the human race: killing other intelligent life. Think of the economic and social benefits of a totally awesome space war.

“The Earth Empire.” We like the sound of that.

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Add another Berkeleyan to the growing list of people winning prizes for being awesome. This time it’s Geoff Marcy, astronomy professor and planet hunter extraordinaire. Yes, that’s right, he freaking hunts god damn planets for a living. Planets. How’s that for a line on the good ol’ resumé?

Professor Marcy won this year’s Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization this time. We say “this time” as some may remember when he shared the million dollar read more »

Astronomy C 10, anyone? Anyone? (Bueller?)

Whether or not you’re in Alexei Filippenko’s class, you’ve probably heard about the enthralling astronomical research at UC Berkeley. In fact, our very own Geoff Marcy was a member of one of the main teams that discovered the first of these little beauties. Extrasolar planets (or exoplanets, if you want to get cute) are planets that orbit stars outside of our solar system. And guess what? We’ve just gotten one step closer to getting a better look at them.

That’s right, folks—to infinity and beyond is read more »