The creationists are horrified, which explains the pic above this post. They’ve been claiming that the Earth is unique, and although they somehow accept the contra-scriptural fact that it’s not the center of the universe, or even the solar system, they nevertheless insist that it’s the center of divine attention, created just for us, and there’s nothing else like it. As has long been predicted, yet another dream of theirs is being shattered.
At EurekAlert, the online news service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), we read: First potentially habitable Earth-sized planet confirmed by Gemini and Keck observatories. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
“What makes this finding particularly compelling is that this Earth-sized planet, one of five orbiting this star, which is cooler than the Sun, resides in a temperate region where water could exist in liquid form,” says Elisa Quintana of the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center who led the paper published in the current issue of the journal Science. The region in which this planet orbits its star is called the habitable zone, as it is thought that life would most likely form on planets with liquid water.
Here’s a link to the paper in Science: An Earth-Sized Planet in the Habitable Zone of a Cool Star. The cover of the journal is an artist’s concept of the planet. The paper’s abstract says:
The quest for Earth-like planets is a major focus of current exoplanet research. Although planets that are Earth-sized and smaller have been detected, these planets reside in orbits that are too close to their host star to allow liquid water on their surfaces. We present the detection of Kepler-186f, a 1.11 ± 0.14 Earth-radius planet that is the outermost of five planets, all roughly Earth-sized, that transit a 0.47 ± 0.05 solar-radius star. The intensity and spectrum of the star’s radiation place Kepler-186f in the stellar habitable zone, implying that if Kepler-186f has an Earth-like atmosphere and water at its surface, then some of this water is likely to be in liquid form.
But let’s stay with EurekAlert. They devote a few paragraphs to the astronomical technique used to detect such planets, and then they say:
The host star, Kepler-186, is an M1-type dwarf star relatively close to our solar system, at about 500 light years and is in the constellation of Cygnus. The star is very dim, being over half a million times fainter than the faintest stars we can see with the naked eye. Five small planets have been found orbiting this star, four of which are in very short-period orbits and are very hot. The planet designated Kepler-186f, however, is earth-sized and orbits within the star’s habitable zone. The Kepler evidence for this planetary system comes from the detection of planetary transits. These transits can be thought of as tiny eclipses of the host star by a planet (or planets) as seen from the Earth. When such planets block part of the star’s light, its total brightness diminishes. Kepler detects that as a variation in the star’s total light output and evidence for planets. So far more than 3,800 possible planets have been detected by this technique with Kepler.
There’s a more accessible account of this discovery in the UK’s Guardian: Nasa Kepler telescope discovers planet believed to be most Earth-like yet found. Here are two excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Kepler-186f was found to be just 10% bigger than the Earth. While habitable zone planets have been identified around other stars, none of them so closely match the Earth in size. US astronomer Dr Stephen Kane, a member of the Kepler team, said: “Some people call these habitable planets, which of course we have no idea if they are. We simply know that they are in the habitable zone, and that is the best place to start looking for habitable planets.”
One more excerpt:
Small stars such as Kepler-186 live a lot longer than larger stars, providing more time for biological evolution to take place. This makes them promising places to look for life, according to Kane. On the other hand, small stars tend to be more active than the sun and liable to produce more solar flares and potentially harmful radiation.
Okay, you have a lot of reading to do. And the creationists … well, they’ve got some double-talking to do. They know how.
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