Is it possible for us to discover habitable planets close to us?

Feb 21, 2021
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I’m a writer and currently writing a book that involves space travel to a potentially habitable planet. I’ve done lots of research of potentially habitable planets that we are already aware of and I am aware that scientists believe there to be billions of planets in the Milky Way alone.

What I’m curious about is how likely it would be to find one or more of these potentially habitable planets in proximity closer to the ones we have already found?

Is it possible that scientists haven’t discovered everything near us? Or would I have to be setting my book somewhere much further afield?

I essentially want to create a planet so as to not get too deep into technical issues of impossibilities with already known existing planets.

And yes I am aware that we can’t reach those planets as of now, but I’m setting the book in the future and will invent technology advances to accommodate this issue.

Hope to hear from someone who might have an answer for me.

Thanks,

Malibu.
 

Wolfshadw

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I can't say whether or not scientists have searched each and every star in the "local neighborhood" you might say, but I would imagine, that in a concerted effort to search for habitable planets, they we start with Sun-like and Red-Dwarf stars nearby, and then move outward. I think what may be an easier swallow for your readers might be habitable moons around Gas Giants or Super-Earths that reside within the "Goldilocks Zone" of a star.

-Wolf sends
 
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rod

Oct 22, 2019
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FYI. I use these two exoplanet sites for my studies in exoplanet research. http://exoplanet.eu/catalog/, presently showing 4685 confirmed exoplanets. Here is another, https://exoplanetarchive.ipac.caltech.edu/index.html

I am not aware that any are confirmed as habitable, Earthlike, even potential is difficult to show :) However some reports appear from time to time like TRAPPIST-1 solar system with 7 exoplanets and host star about 0.08 solar masses (very small red dwarf), about 39 light-years distance. Others like Proxima Centauri b (about 4 light-years distance), and Tau Ceti (very popular in past reports) with 4 exoplanets, about 12 light-years distance.

"in proximity closer to the ones we have already found?", The list here is a start for proximity definition but showing any exoplanets are habitable is yet to be confirmed.

The.eu site shows 153 exoplanets < 40 light-years distance from Earth. The other link shows 104 exoplanets within that distance from Earth.
 
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Catastrophe

The devil is in the detail
The problem you have is faster than light travel (FLT), or even faster than light communication.

Even the nearest star is abut 4 light years away. That means (I'm sure you know) that it takes 4 years to message each way. Travel at a small % of this will be difficult, even in the future.

Even communication at light speed is 8 years for the round trip.

As a writer you will have to rely on the totally unscientific FTL.

It would be good to have an innovative solution, which does exist.

Cat :)
 

Catastrophe

The devil is in the detail
And . . . . . . . . . "What I’m curious about is how likely it would be to find one or more of these potentially habitable planets in proximity closer to the ones we have already found?"

Approximately zero. Within travel/communication distance.

Cat :)
 

rod

Oct 22, 2019
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Well Cat in post #5, that is why in 1966 we had Star Trek with Cpt. James T. Kirk on a five year mission :) He had no such problem with nearby star systems. An object traveling 20 km/s in a straight line can cover 13 light-years distance, in 195,000 earth years :)
 

Catastrophe

The devil is in the detail
"Is it possible that scientists haven’t discovered everything near us? Or would I have to be setting my book somewhere much further afield?"

Now that IS a brilliant idea! There is already discussion on what we consider to be the Laws of Physics are actually a local phenomenon.

Cat :)
 

rod

Oct 22, 2019
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Cat in post #10. Define *how local* for the Laws of Physics? E.g. gravity and Kepler's elliptical orbit laws. this could change everything about the more than 4,000 exoplanets confirmed now :)
 
Feb 18, 2020
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I’m a writer and currently writing a book that involves space travel to a potentially habitable planet. I’ve done lots of research of potentially habitable planets that we are already aware of and I am aware that scientists believe there to be billions of planets in the Milky Way alone.

What I’m curious about is how likely it would be to find one or more of these potentially habitable planets in proximity closer to the ones we have already found?

Is it possible that scientists haven’t discovered everything near us? Or would I have to be setting my book somewhere much further afield?

I essentially want to create a planet so as to not get too deep into technical issues of impossibilities with already known existing planets.

And yes I am aware that we can’t reach those planets as of now, but I’m setting the book in the future and will invent technology advances to accommodate this issue.

Hope to hear from someone who might have an answer for me.

Thanks,

Malibu.
FTL is the biggest problem a writer has to overcome in this writing subject. Overcome that and it is all downhill (or up space) from that point on. Let your imagination explore ANY possible solution. There is no way anyone can dispute the possibility of your thesis. The theory of FTL being impossible only means that the answer is open to speculation. Just because we/us/a person can or cannot prove the limiting speed does or does not exist, keep the possibility for the future discovery alive in your story.
 
Jun 1, 2020
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I don’t think FTL is a must. If the story allows for a one-way trip, then traveling even several hundred light years can be accomplished within reasonable time thanks to time dilation when traveling very near the speed of light. [ If you want us to crunch the numbers for you, just ask.] It would require a great amount of acceleration and deceleration, but that’s ideal for simulating gravity. So that’s a plus. Also, for believability, a great amount of hydrogen can be scooped-up at such high speeds, further fueling the ship’s engines, though the fine details likely need to be avoided in favor of your literary license.

I would recommend a host star of F, G, orK. Other class stars greatly reduce habitablity.

The larger the planet, the easier they are to find, which explains the data bias toward the giants. So, it‘s not a stretch to assume many Earth-sized planets are reasonably close to us that will be found with better forthcoming telescopes.

I think the number of planets may exceed the number of stars, so you may have about 200 billion planets to put in your sand box. Very, very few will prove to be strong candidates for habitability.

We are close now in getting exoplanet atmospheric data, which will greatly improve probability for habitability. Such data would likely be necessary to warrant any grand interstellar trip.

iPad
 
Feb 21, 2021
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Hey thanks everyone for the advice!

The story is essentially going to be a one way trip that I want to take around 100 years and I don‘t know where to put this imaginary planet I’m creating!

I don’t know how likely it is that we will ever be able to travel at the speed of light but for the purposes of the story they are going to be able to, but it would be nice if I could have the planet closer than like a million light years away so it’s somewhat believable.

I just don‘t know if I’ll look like an idiot if I say they discovered a planet say 50 light years away? Is that possible or is everything in that vicinity fully mapped?
 
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Oct 23, 2020
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Yeah
And . . . . . . . . . "What I’m curious about is how likely it would be to find one or more of these potentially habitable planets in proximity closer to the ones we have already found?"

Approximately zero. Within travel/communication distance.

Cat :)
Yeah, I think that all these planets most likely not appropriate to live on. Those planets that had been discovered and claimed as the `` the second Earth`` are tidally locked to its star with a high radiation environment from the frequent stellar flares so likely no atmosphere and no life.
 

Catastrophe

The devil is in the detail
Cat, you did not answer the question either :) If the book is scifi, the universe is unlimited in what space travel can do :)
Rod, we are talking about fiction.
"Cat in post #10. Define *how local* for the Laws of Physics? E.g. gravity and Kepler's elliptical orbit laws. this could change everything about the more than 4,000 exoplanets confirmed now :) "
The author can decide this in their own fictional world. It is enough to parallel something in real science. Can you delineate exactly where the Laws of Physics might change? Or explain the Big Bang? Or how Alice travelled through the Looking Glass? There are loads of areas where science (or an author of fiction) is just making (unjustified) assumptions.

Cat :)
 
Jun 1, 2020
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The story is essentially going to be a one way trip that I want to take around 100 years and I don‘t know where to put this imaginary planet I’m creating!
There are over 500 Sun-like (G-class) stars within 100 lyrs. from us. Stars that are similar to the Sun are called solar analogs, those very similar are solar twins (e.g. 18 Sco).

Rod gave a link to the Exoplanet site in post #4. You can scroll to the right to find the star distance for these planets. If you click on the heading it will sort the list by nearest, or farthest. [I can’t do it on my iPad, but I should be correct.]

I don’t know how likely it is that we will ever be able to travel at the speed of light but for the purposes of the story they are going to be able to, but it would be nice if I could have the planet closer than like a million light years away so it’s somewhat believable.
Our galaxy is ~100,000 lyrs. in diameter. The nearest full galaxy is Andromeda at 2.3 million lyrs.

At 95% the speed of light, c, time travel is reduced to 1/3 of the time rate of Earth clocks. So 300 lyrs distance would only take a little over 100 years, plus the time due to acceleration, of course.

At 99% of c, time is reduced by a factor of ~ 50.

I just don‘t know if I’ll look like an idiot if I say they discovered a planet say 50 light years away? Is that possible or is everything in that vicinity fully mapped?
Nothing is fully mapped since the smaller and more distant orbiting planets are extremely hard to detect. Even the alpha Centauri system keeps surprising us and it’s only ~ 4.5 lyrs.
 
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rod

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Okay, Helio post #18 remined me of the movie Passengers with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, traveling to another world similar to earth but a long journey. They were moving along at 50% c so their clock ticked 1 second while on Earth, 1.15 second ticked. About a 15.5% reduction in ship time vs. time on Earth. The journey required the passengers to enter hibernation in chambers and then awake when they arrive.
 
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I too thought of that movie, and it’s one I enjoyed. It was believable, which is a goal for sci-fy. [Well, the venting of the core was a stretch, and then there’s all the dirt needed for .... :)]

Even at 50% c, the speed is about 300 million mph. An incredible amount of energy is needed to acheive higher speeds; infinite amount to actually reach c. So a hibernation plan with only 50% c is more plausible than 90% c.

Nevertheless, given the great mystery in dark energy, imagination has a lot of wiggle room when it comes to great energy utilization.
 
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Helio:
"An incredible amount of energy is needed to acheive higher speeds "

What is often forgotten is not the energy to get up to speed
but the energy to slow down again!
Yes, which is also acceleration with the engines firing to slow it down. [I avoid big words when stuck on this iPad. ;)]

There should be a relativistic calculator online to give the speed result after a set acceleration rate over a given time frame.

Here is one calculator.
 
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For all the relatavistic calculations, surely the only time which matters is the time experienced by the protagonists? For them time/ageing is real.
Yes, that’s why I originally asked if it was a one-way trip.

The biggest practical issue I see is that its too plausible that a few years after launch a better, faster, cheaper ship will launch and beat the first travelers by a significant time. Any story would be improved with a way around this. Earth on the brink, as in Interstellar, was one idea, for instance.
 
Lets break down what traveling at the speed of light really is.
Traveling in normal space at the peak of fluctuation with no interaction.
The quantum world is made up of 99.9etc nothing so traveling at C is the distance it takes to go from one quantum orbit to the next or time.

If you travel in the 99.9etc that is nothing and don't interact with normal space then what is time or distance?
Gravity's ability to have instant communication ? or reason we orbit the sun at it's true location not it's C location.

A possible way to go as fast as you want and communicate as fast as you want.
Gravity is showing it's possible, all you have to do is figure out how to control the quantum world to do it :)
 

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