Update on Extra-Solar Planets

The anguish of creationists must be accelerating as NASA continues to find planetary systems beyond our own, with many of them having planets located in their star’s Goldilocks zone, described by Wikipedia as “the region around a star within which planetary-mass objects with sufficient atmospheric pressure can support liquid water at their surfaces.”

According to creationists, Earth is a uniquely Privileged Planet, so each time NASA announces additional discoveries, the creationists retreat further into their theological fantasies and fanatically deny the reality that science is uniquely able to reveal.

The latest information can be found at the PhysOrg website in this article: NASA discovers Earth-like planet orbiting ‘cousin’ of Sun. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Astronomers hunting for another Earth have found what may be the closest match yet, a potentially rocky planet circling its star at the same distance as the Earth orbits the Sun, NASA said Thursday. Not only is this planet squarely in the Goldilocks zone — where life could exist because it is neither too hot nor too cold to support liquid water — its star looks like an older cousin of our Sun, the US space agency said.

Older cousin? What’s that all about? We’re told:

That means the planet, which is 1,400 light-years away, could offer a glimpse into the Earth’s apocalyptic future, scientists said. Known as Kepler 452b, the planet was detected by the US space agency’s Kepler Space Telescope, which has been hunting for other worlds like ours since 2009. “Kepler 452b is orbiting a close cousin of our Sun, but one that is 1.5 billion years older,” NASA said in a statement.

That would qualify as “older.” Let’s read on:

If the planet is rocky, and scientists believe that it has a better than even chance of being just that, then it could be in the midst of a fearful scenario, as the heat from its dying star evaporates Kepler 452b’s lakes and oceans. “If Kepler 452b is indeed a rocky planet, its location vis-a-vis its star could mean that it is just entering a runaway greenhouse phase of its climate history,” said Doug Caldwell, a Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute scientist working on the Kepler mission.

If that world is dying, its intelligent inhabitants — if there are any — would be looking for a good place to move. Egad — they could be on the way to Earth! Why not? If we can detect their world, they would be able to detect ours. And they’re likely to be far more advanced than we are. Maybe we’re doomed! The news continues:

The Kepler mission launched in 2009 to search for exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system, particularly those about the size of Earth or smaller. “Today, and thousands of discoveries later, astronomers are on the cusp of finding something people have dreamed about for thousands of years — another Earth,” NASA said in a statement. On Thursday, NASA released the latest catalog of exoplanet candidates, adding more than 500 new possible planets to the 4,175 already found by the space-based telescope.

That’s ambiguously worded. We assume it means they’ve spotted over 4,600 extra-solar planets. It wasn’t very long ago when the creationists were saying that there probably weren’t any. Here’s more:

The new catalog includes 12 candidates that are less than twice the diameter of Earth and which are orbiting in the habitable zones of their stars. Of those 12 new candidates, Kepler 452b “is the first to be confirmed as a planet,” NASA said.

The article finishes with a bit of bad news:

The Kepler mission has cost NASA about $600 million, and the US space agency said in 2013 that two of its orientation wheels had lost function, leaving the space telescope beyond repair. But scientists have years to pore over the data it has returned in order to narrow the search for Earth-like worlds.

So there you are. We’ve only just begun to search, and better instruments are on the way. So far it looks like 4,600 extra-solar planets have been discovered, some of which may be habitable. The future looks grim for creationists. And if the inhabitants of Kepler 452b are looking for greener pastures, the future may be grim for all of us. We shall see.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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6 responses to “Update on Extra-Solar Planets

  1. Mark Germano

    Asked for comment, the Sun said “I ain’t kin to no Kepler 452b.”

  2. I, for one, welcome our new Kepler-fourfivetwobean overlords. I just hope we can call them something simpler.

  3. As long as we don’t find worlds which are indisputably not just habitable but inhabited, creationists will continue to insist that we are God’s unique creations.

    Even if we do find other intelligent life, creationists will insist it’s all fake–or else that the aliens are really demons sent by Satan to deceive people.

  4. That sounds about right.

  5. You hit on something here that almost nobody else does, and it bears a lot more repeating. Go back to the early 1990s and the creationists were adamant that no extrasolar planets would ever be found. Angular momentum, our special planet, etc. were all used to justify this. This is something the creationists would rather we not remember, and we need to help everybody remember this. You need to do an article just on this.

  6. And-u-say: “Go back to the early 1990s and the creationists were adamant that no extrasolar planets would ever be found.”

    Some of “the creationists”, like the “instant starlight” crowd, probably still insist that no extrasolar planets have been found. And many of the ones who concede that they have been found will insist that they’re merely 1000s of years old, not billions. Though a majority nowadays concede the billions – if anyone asks, which is unfortunately rare.

    The whole “privileged planet” strategy is a tacit admission that the “privileged species” strategy has failed, not only as science, but even in terms of fooling the public. Most “creationists” (I prefer “anti-evolution activists” to differentiate them from clueless rank-and-file evolution-deniers) are deliberately vague about common descent, and even in some cases reluctantly concede it.

    So yes, we definitely need to remind the public at every opportunity, of whenever they backpedal and/or contradict each other. If all we do is refute them, we’re doing just want they want, as every refutation gives them more data and quotes to take out of context to fool the next audience.