Hubbel telescope finds galaxy from the time of the Big Bang
I have no idea how to interpret this. I just thought it looked cool.
I read this morning that astronomers have discovered a nearby star with seven earth sized planets circling the dwarf star. At 40 light years distant it is in the astronomical neighborhood. Compared to some of the other discovered exoplanets that is close. But how far is close? Should we be saving our money for an excursion to one of these planets? Will there be residents there to welcome us? Will we need visas?
Here are a few facts. The fastest craft earthlings have so far devised was the Juno probe. There is an effect often spoken of in science fiction in which small bodies like a spacecraft use a larger bodies gravitational pull like a sling-shot. As a craft nears a planet the size of Jupiter its speed picks up, and done right the craft can by-pass the planet and be whipped on at an accelerated speed.
Juno used that effect and when it left the pull of Jupiter to go off toward deep space it was moving at about 165,000 mph. So, that’s faster than my Toyota, and faster than the speed of sound by a lot. How does Juno’s speed compare to the speed of light?
Light travels at roughly 670,616,629 mph. A light year is the distance that light would travel in a year going at that speed. How does our Juno spacecraft compare? How many years would it take us to go that far?
If my math is right (Math is not my strong suit. Please tell me that I’m wrong) it would take us 4,064 years and four months to go one light year catapulted past Jupiter, and to go forty light years would take us 162,572 years. To put into perspective how long that is, that is about the time in the past that the hypothetical mitochondrial Eve lived.
Unless we find a wormhole – to date only a theoretical construct – and figure out how to dodge through it to cut the distance to another planet, we are stuck here on a planet that is overheating and getting too crowded.
Isn’t it wonderful that NASA finds such things as exoplanets? It gives science fiction writers something to write about, and their novels give the rest of us the chance to bury our heads in a book so that we don’t have to look at the light of the oncoming train.
I wonder if on one or more of those seven planets there are telescopes looking at Earth with astronomers looking for an escape from their own gloomy futures.