Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




EXO WORLDS
Just 15 Percent Of Solar Systems Like Ours
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Jan 06, 2010


illustration only

In their quest to find solar systems analogous to ours, astronomers have determined how common our solar system is. They've concluded that about 15 percent of stars in our galaxy host systems of planets like our own, with several gas giant planets in the outer part of the solar system.

"Now we know our place in the universe," said Ohio State University astronomer Scott Gaudi. "Solar systems like our own are not rare, but we're not in the majority, either."

Gaudi will report the results of the new study on Tuesday, January 5, at the American Astronomical Society Meeting in Washington, DC, when he accepts the Helen B. Warner Prize for Astronomy.

The find comes from a worldwide collaboration headquartered at Ohio State called the Microlensing Follow-Up Network (MicroFUN), which searches the sky for extrasolar planets.

MicroFUN astronomers use a method called gravitational microlensing, which occurs when one star happens to cross in front of another as seen from Earth. The nearer star magnifies the light from the more distant star like a lens. If planets are orbiting the lens star, they boost the magnification briefly as they pass by.

This method is especially good at detecting giant planets in the outer reaches of solar systems - planets analogous to our own Jupiter.

This latest MicroFUN result is the culmination of 10 years' work - and one sudden epiphany, explained Gaudi and Andrew Gould, professor of astronomy at Ohio State.

Ten years ago, Gaudi wrote his doctoral thesis on a method for calculating the likelihood that extrasolar planets exist. At the time, he concluded that less than 45 percent of stars could harbor a configuration similar to our own solar system.

Then, in December 2009, Gould was examining a newly discovered planet with Cheongho Han of the Institute for Astrophysics at Chungbuk National University in Korea. The two were reviewing the range of properties among extrasolar planets discovered so far, when Gould saw a pattern.

"Basically, I realized that the answer was in Scott's thesis from 10 years ago," Gould said. "Using the last four years of MicroFUN data, we could add a few robust assumptions to his calculations, and we could now say how common planet systems are in the universe."

The find boils down to a statistical analysis: in the last four years, the MicroFUN survey has discovered only one solar system like our own - a system with two gas giants resembling Jupiter and Saturn, which astronomers discovered in 2006 and reported in the journal Science in 2008.

"We've only found this one system, and we should have found about six by now - if every star had a solar system like Earth's," Gaudi said.

The slow rate of discovery makes sense if only a small number of systems - around 15 percent - are like ours, they determined.

"While it is true that this initial determination is based on just one solar system and our final number could change a lot, this study shows that we can begin to make this measurement with the experiments we are doing today," Gaudi added.

As to the possibility of life as we know it existing elsewhere in the galaxy, scientists will now be able to make a rough guess based on how many solar systems are like our own.

Our solar system may be a minority, but Gould said that the outcome of the study is actually positive.

"With billions of stars out there, even narrowing the odds to 15 percent leaves a few hundred million systems that might be like ours," he said.

.


Related Links
-
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





EXO WORLDS
Earth-Like Planet Probably A Wasteland
Washington DC (SPX) Jan 06, 2010
When scientists confirmed in October that they had detected the first rocky planet outside our solar system, it advanced the longtime quest to find an Earth-like planet hospitable to life. Rocky planets - Earth, Mercury, Venus and Mars - make up half the planets in our solar system. Rocky planets are considered better environments to support life than planets that are mainly gaseous, like ... read more


EXO WORLDS
Lava tube could house moon colony

Moon Mission In Running For Next Big Space Venture

Obama cuts moon travel, links NASA to private firms

3D Measurements Of Apollo 14 Landing Site

EXO WORLDS
Minimal Progress In Recent Extraction Drives

Goddard Scientist Breakthrough Given Ticket To Mars

Mars Spirit Rover Facing End Of Mission Decision

Mars rover Spirit's 6-year stint may be ending: NASA

EXO WORLDS
Galactic GPS Possible With Pulsars And Gravity Waves

US still has space ambitions: NASA chief

Chairman Gordon Comments On President's Budget Request

South Korea to send its cuisine into space

EXO WORLDS
China Building Large Radio Telescope For Space Observation

China To Launch Civil HD Survey Satellite In 2011

China Launches First Public-Welfare Mini Satellite

Chang'e-1 Has Blazed A New Trail In China's Deep Space Exploration

EXO WORLDS
How To Live Long And Prosper In Space

Russia Set To Launch Another Space Truck To ISS

Obama budget extends US commitment to space station

Mini-Research Module MRM1 At Cape For Shuttle Processing

EXO WORLDS
Arianespace Poised For 2010 Boost

Booz Allen Hamilton To Transform LA Spacelift Range

Apron Construction Contract Awarded For Spaceport America

Shuttle-Derived Vehicle: Shuttle-Derived Disaster

EXO WORLDS
Sun Glints Seen From Space Signal Oceans And Lakes

NASA's Kepler space telescope finds five new exoplanets

Just 15 Percent Of Solar Systems Like Ours

Earth-Like Planet Probably A Wasteland

EXO WORLDS
Blockbuster 'Avatar' to accelerate 3D revolution

Y2X bugs strikes 30 million German credit cards

Superatom mimicry offers insights to periodic table

An Easy Way To See Thinnest Material




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement