Wednesday, September 01, 2004

More Potential "Super-Earths" found

This article at space.com is about two more Neptune-sized planets found around other stars.

What does this mean? Most importantly it represents that another technological hurdle has been cleared; searches for planets are more accurate than ever. With the ability to find smaller planets, we can not only find other Solar Systems, but also determine how many are like our own -- several planets in nearly circular orbits. If such solar systems are common, the chances are good that there are lots of solar systems with planets about the size of the Earth at the right distance from the star for life to form and be happy. If planetary systems like ours are rare, that doesn't bode well for a Universe teeming with life.