Wednesday, January 28, 2015

But What Are Their Tourist Attractions?

Americans desperate for a new vacation vista will be excited to learn that astronomers have discovered a really old box of rocks:

Ancient galactic civilizations have been a staple of science fiction stories for decades. Now science fiction writers can turn to an actual known star for inspiration, an old star with a system of Earth-sized planets, just announced this week. These planets are presently the oldest known to astronomers. Orbiting the old sunlike star Kepler-444, they date back to the dawn of our Milky Way galaxy itself and suggest that planets have formed throughout the history of our galaxy and universe.

The discovery, announced January 27, 2015 in the Astrophysical Journal, used observations made by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft over a period of four years.

The five planets in the Kepler-444 system are all a bit smaller than Earth, with sizes varying between those of Mercury and Venus. Kepler-444 formed 11.2 billion years ago, when the universe was less than 20% of its current age. Presumably its planets formed around the same time. The Kepler-444 system was already older than our own solar system is today when our sun and planets were born.

Reactions from across the nation:

  • Manhattan: So how far is it from midtown and how late is it open?
  • Vermont: You can’t get there from here.
  • Minnesota: How’s the fishing there?
  • Chicago: I’ll make them an offer they can’t refuse.
  • Detroit: Are they unionized?
  • Wyoming: What are their gun laws like?
  • Seattle: It probably rains just as much there, so why move?
  • San Francisco: Show me a listing of bathhouses there.
  • Los Angeles: Dude! That’s, you know, so five minutes ago.
  • Dallas: Get me a quote on oil-rights leases.
  • New Orleans: Another export market for oil, crawfish, and gumbo!

JetBlue has not yet announced a schedule of Kepler-bound flights. Southwest Airlines has hastened to assure us that bags will still fly free.

2 comments:

  1. This might be a much better tourist attraction:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/31001078

    It's a planet with a ring system that is much, much bigger than Saturn's. If it were around Saturn right now, it would be visible in the sky during the daytime. Pretty cool!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Unionized? At the temperature of those planets, they must be ionized.

    ReplyDelete

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