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Thread: One term of Drake's equation down....

  1. #1 One term of Drake's equation down.... 
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    Recent piece reporting the early Kepler orbiting observatory suggest up to a 3rd of stars might have "earth-like" planets.

    "The Kepler orbiting observatory is specifically designed to find Earth-like planets around nearby stars.

    Earlier this year, the Kepler team released the mission's first 136 days of data and it has turned out to be a veritable jackpot. In that time Kepler looked at some 150,000 target stars and found evidence for 1,235 potential exoplanets. That's quite a haul.

    Since then, most of the work on this database has been to identify the characteristics of all these exoplanets. But such a large dataset also allows for statistical analyses too, from which various projections can be made.

    Today, Wesley Traub at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, reveals the results of just such a study. Traub has looked only at the stars that are most similar to the Sun, namely those with the classification F, G or K and worked out often various types of planets occur. "



    One-Third of Sun-Like Stars Have Earth-Like Planets In Habitable Zone* - Technology Review


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    Unfortunately that title mis-states what was actually found. The researchers are making a prediction about what might be found but has not yet been found, based on a power law derived from some assumptions made about what has been seen. In other words they are filling in the blanks by extrapolation. They may be right but the title of the piece seems to claim it is a proven fact, and it is far from being that.

    Most of these planets [I think they mean earth sized ones] are too far away from their stars to have been picked up by Kepler yet. But Traub says his data analysis provides a way to work out how many their ought to be. That's because he's found a power law that describes how the number of stars with a given orbital period. So all he has to do is assume a longer orbital period equivalent to being in the habitable zone to work out how many planets there ought to be at this distance.


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