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Originally posted by otis22 at 2006-7-4 18:13
l don't think the age of the universe is important... if the universe was "created", be it 20 million years ago or 500 million years ago, time would still stretch backwards indefinitely ...
For OTIS years......
Cool way to find Earth-like planets(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-07-07 05:59
A giant, flower-shaped space shield could be scientists' best way of finding Earth-like planets outside our solar system, according to an American astronomer.
By blocking out the glare of the stars the planets orbit, the space shield would give scientists detailed pictures of extrasolar planets for the first time.
Almost 200 planets have been discovered orbiting other stars in recent years. All of them are giant planets and most were found using indirect measurements such as how their gravity made their parent stars wobble.
Finding smaller, Earth-sized planets is impossible using current methods, but Webster Cash, director of the Centre for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy at the University of Colorado in Boulder, designed a way to get around the problem: a pair of spacecraft, a starshade (the astronomical equivalent of sunglasses) and a telescope that together work as a giant pinhole camera called the New Worlds Observer (NWO).
The shade would be shaped like the petals of a sunflower, a shape that Cash calculated would be most effective for blocking the light of distant stars. Any planets around the blocked star, even if they were as small as the Earth, would show up as bright specks of light.
Cash's design was published in Nature yesterday. Writing in the journal, he said that science fiction writers had speculated on the existence of Earth-like planets around nearby stars for more than a century. "If they actually exist, use of (NWO) could find them within the next decade."
He added that the NWO could be built within six years at a cost of US$400 million.
Around 10,000 stars would be in range of the NWO and each may have up to 10 planets.
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