Friday, April 17, 2009

My God, it’s full of stars

The Kepler terrestrial planet finding telescope just released its first light picture. According to the mission designers, about 50 of these stars will have earth-sized planets in an orbit with similar insolation as we have. I’m guessing that after removing oddballs due to unusual stellar compositions and eccentric orbits, there will be fewer that are truly earth-like. But as with all experiments of this type, the coolest thing we find will be something we haven’t thought of yet.

Anyway, now that the starscape is out, I’d like to start the first internet planetary betting pool. The rules are simple. Have a look at the full-scale image. Pick a star. The person who selects the star with the most earth-like planet wins.

Now, it may seem like there are a lot of choices there. I haven’t counted them myself, but I read that there are about a quarter million stars in this picture. But think of it this way. One in a quarter million is way, way, way better odds than the lottery. And in this pool, the winner gets shouted to a pan-galactic gargle blaster by each and every one of the unsuccessful players. What could possibly go wrong?

My guess is the star at 4891, 3691.


Chris said...

I'm going for 2464, 3809. Bring on the pan-galactic gargle blasters!

andy said...

There are a couple of fairly old open clusters in the Kepler FOV, which should be interesting. For example, the WEBDA open clusters site gives an age of 4.4 billion years and [Fe/H]=+0.15 for NGC 6791. Wonder if there are any Earthlike planets there.

C W Magee said...

Is 47 Tucanae iron poor?

Silver Fox said...

Absoulutely beautiful! I'd have a hard time chosing just one, so will remain out of the star lottery for the time being.

Jennifer Ouellette said...

Would love to pick a star and enter the "lottery," but I guess I'm missing the part where the coordinates are shown. Astronomer insider knowledge? :)

C W Magee said...

I was just going by pixel numbers from the large linked image- although if you want to use correct astronomical co-ordinates and make me do my homework, that's OK too.

Detailed instructions:
-Click the above link to download the high res image.
-Save it (file-&gtsave page as, or something similar in your browser.
-open in microsoft paint (all programs -&gt accessories).
-The pixel location of the mouse appears in the lower right hand corner while the mouse is over he image.

Mac and Unix users will have to ask one of those people for instructions.