Super-Earths' powerful gravity could preclude alien civilizations from leaving their planets

Discussion in 'Science' started by Durandal, May 17, 2018.

  1. Durandal

    Durandal Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Interesting! If we were on a super-earth, we never could have achieved orbit using chemically fueled rockets, and possibly never would have done it any other way either.

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    https://thespacereporter.com/articl...izations-from-leaving-their-planets&id=145627

    By Laurel Kornfeld | May 08, 2018
    If alien civilizations exist on super-Earths, they may be unable to leave their home planets due to those planets' extremely powerful gravitational pulls, according to a new study submitted to the International Journal of Astrobiology.

    Many super-Earths, exoplanets larger than Earth but smaller than Jupiter, have been discovered, with the average one being approximately 10 times larger than our planet.

    Of all the exoplanets found to date, super-Earths are the most likely to harbor life as we know it. Because they are more massive than Earth, these worlds can hold thicker atmospheres, which protect life from cosmic rays but also increase the power needed to launch from their surfaces.

    The planets' larger masses give them significantly stronger gravitational pulls, which could make it impossible for any intelligent civilizations on them to achieve escape velocity.

    Launching a space mission comparable to the Apollo moon missions from a super-Earth would require so much fuel that the rocket would have to have a mass of 440,000 tons.

    "On more-massive planets, spaceflight would be exponentially more expensive. Such civilizations would not have satellite TV, a moon mission, or a Hubble Space Telescope (HST)," study author Michael Hippke, an independent researcher affiliated with Germany's Sonneberg Observatory, told the website Space.com.

    Hippke calculated the size a rocket would have to be to escape a super-Earth such as Kepler-20b, which is located 950 light years away and is 70 percent wider than the Earth and 10 times more massive.

    Escape velocity for a planet like Kepler-20b is about 2.4 times what it is for Earth. For planets with more than 10 Earth masses, chemical rockets are not powerful enough to achieve escape velocity, meaning any civilizations living on these worlds would have to pursue other methods of reaching space.

    Other options such civilizations might consider are space elevators or nuclear-powered rockets though it is unclear whether the former would work for such massive worlds.

    "Civilizations from super-Earths are much less likely to explore the stars. Instead, they would be to some extent arrested on their home planet and, for example, make more use of lasers or radio telescopes for interstellar communication instead of sending probes or spaceships," Hippke said in an interview with the Daily Mail in the UK.
     
  2. robot

    robot Member

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    What you have not mentioned it that the atmosphere would stretch a lot higher so to get to low orbit would mean getting even higher. This would make it even harder to do. This is a first step.
     
  3. Nonsensei436

    Nonsensei436 Well-Known Member Donor

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    It just means they have to wait to develop teleportation first.
     
  4. fmw

    fmw Well-Known Member

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    A lot of guesswork for a subject with no evidence whatsoever. Sounds like American politics.
     
  5. tecoyah

    tecoyah Well-Known Member

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    All these speculations are terribly Earth/Human centric and lack imagination. Whatever species does develop on a Super Earth will be completely different from us, Evolve with different geology and chemistry, Take different paths to technology and no one can know what they are capable of. For all we know they can fly into space and do not breath...have super powerful legs and can jump 200 miles eat super juju fruit that allows them to mentally travel space and are already here watching from dimension 14.
     
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  6. Durandal

    Durandal Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    It's a matter of physics, and of course the article is speculating. It is still interesting to think about, at least if you have any scientific curiosity at all. How would a super-earth civilization reach space? Could they do it, and if so, how? That is the question. It's also something to think about if we ever reach the point of traveling to such a world, but of course that would be exceedingly far into the future yet.
     
  7. reallybigjohnson

    reallybigjohnson Well-Known Member

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    They are forgetting atmospheric density, if you have a thick atmosphere that makes it easier for flight. They would have a much harder time achieving space flight like we do it which is almost vertical but the could still manage it by climbing into space at a lower angle and using the thicker atmosphere to get higher. The downside is of course that a thicker atmosphere also means higher resistance so they would have to have more heat resistant materials than we need.
     
  8. fmw

    fmw Well-Known Member

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    We aren't going to explore the galaxy. We aren't going to colonize other planets. The distances are simply too great. Speculating about large massive planets with civilizations is silly when we can speculate about things that can improve our lives instead.
     
  9. tecoyah

    tecoyah Well-Known Member

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    Most people can do both.
     
  10. fmw

    fmw Well-Known Member

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    Yes it is a matter of allocating one's time.
     
  11. modernpaladin

    modernpaladin Well-Known Member

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    The technology currently exist to colonize mars, mine asteroids and dispose of hazardous waste in space where we can be free of it. Granted, these things are not economically viable yet, merely possible.

    But talking and dreaming about them are the first steps to making them a reality.

    Humanity's (perhaps distant) future is among the stars. If you dont like it, go find another thread. Dont chastize folks just because your imagination is more limited.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2018 at 6:49 AM
  12. Dutch

    Dutch Well-Known Member Donor

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    I wonder what would have caveman say, if you showed him an Apple's iPhone X?
     
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  13. Nightmare515

    Nightmare515 Ragin' Cajun Staff Member Past Donor

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    This.

    Over the past few years we humans have slowly started to stop using terminology such as "Life" and replaced it with "Life as we know it", which is good, however we still often struggle to let go of the notion that we are "special".

    I always laugh when I watch documentaries depicting other worlds and the narrator says "nothing could survive here". How the hell do you know? Have you been there lol?

    I get it, since we have no real idea if life can take on other forms besides what we see here on Earth then it's obvious that we tend to use ourselves as a example of life since we are the only verified planet that we know of. However, as we have so clearly seen here on our own planet, as so eloquently stated by Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, life finds a way.

    Evolution doesn't work backwards. Life doesn't spring up in a biosphere then die immediately because it wasn't equipped to live there. Evolution isn't going to spring up a group of oxygen breathing carbon based lifeforms on Titan and watch them explode and go "oops". It doesn't work that way lol.

    It's like we tend to forget to even look at ourselves here on Earth and apply that same logic to the cosmos. I mean it's pretty simple...humans can't breathe underwater so does that mean that nothing can live in there? No...it means that WE can't live in there. This is like saying the density of water would prevent humans from operating in that environment efficiently. Meanwhile marine animals can zip around at 50+mph with ease because they were obviously designed to live there...Meanwhile we humans can barely sustain 3mph in the water, but we can get to the shore then get up and walk away while the dolphin behind us obviously can't because it wasn't designed to live where we live.

    There's something like 2 million different species of animals on the Earth alone in all sorts of different configurations....Where ever life evolves it evolves to live where it lives. If it happens all over our own planet in hundreds of different ecosystems then it stands to reason that if it evolves on a different planet then it's probably pretty well equipped to live there.
     
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  14. wyly

    wyly Well-Known Member

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    there's the media has a fascination with each discovery of a new earth like planet and then conveying to the public who assume we could inhabit such a planet...but we can't, the kind super earths being found even with the appropriate temperatures, water and atmosphere would be quickly fatal to any human landing there, the gravitational differences of any planet larger than earth cannot be overcome...we are restricted to earth mass or smaller, no amount of technology will alter our bodies biological capabilities to withstand gravitational forces greater than which life on this planet has evolved with...
     
  15. fmw

    fmw Well-Known Member

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    I disagree.

    I agree

    I disagree and I will post in any thread I wish.
     
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  16. WillReadmore

    WillReadmore Well-Known Member

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    That's a ridiculously weak argument.
     
  17. BillRM

    BillRM Well-Known Member

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    As early as the 1960s we have designs and even models of pusher plates nuclear rockets that could had place large bases on the moon and the inner planets.

    Surely such technology would had allow aliens to get off their large earth planets also.

    True those designs called of tiny nuclear devices by the hundreds for each major launch an it was not a can of worm the US wish to open in the middle of the cold war and now the idea of using open nukes in the atmosphere no matter how small and clean would be a no starter.

    Still if the desire was there any alien culture could with just earth 1960s technology could get off their planet.



     
  18. Dutch

    Dutch Well-Known Member Donor

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    Oh.. you don’t have one? Sorry.
     
  19. jay runner

    jay runner Well-Known Member

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    Ashes to ashes, stardust to stardust.
     
  20. Nightmare515

    Nightmare515 Ragin' Cajun Staff Member Past Donor

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    Not really, we simply have no idea what humans will be capable of in the future. A caveman could never have even imagined something like a cell phone because at the time it was beyond their own realm of comprehension. As of right now yes colonizing other worlds is impossible but who knows what the future human race can achieve?

    We aren't putting human beings on anything except for Mars in my lifetime, for that I am nearly 100% certain. But in the future we may very well colonize other worlds. It is highly possible that we humans are forever stuck in our own little corner of the cosmos. Perhaps the laws of physics as we know them are absolute and 100% accurate and there is no feasible way whatsoever to ever make a "warp drive". Perhaps we just accept that in the future and pool our resources together and build a generation ship and set off anyway. Or perhaps we discover something about physics that we didn't know and we build some revolutionary propulsion system that we couldn't even fathom working right now. Perhaps some advanced alien civilization comes flying by and sees us and says holy crap theres stuff living on that planet lets go say hi. Or maybe they see us and freak out and kill us all...

    Point is we have no real idea of what tomorrow will bring and we can't make absolute statements like "never".
     

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