Why Our Solar System May Not Be So Rare

As our ability to identify planets beyond our solar system improves, it is becoming clear that our planetary neighborhood may not be so unique, meaning other Earths are well within the realm of possibility. 

What's the Latest Development?

Emerging techniques for detecting planets beyond our solar system suggest that our planetary neighborhood might not be so unique, and that other solar systems might have an even more compact arrangement of planets. In a statistical analysis of the star HD 10180, which is just 6% larger than our sun and composed of similar elements, astronomers estimate that as many as nine planets may be orbiting it, and all within the star's inner realm. Previous studies suggest that solar systems tend to be 'maximally packed', i.e. if planets can form, they will, and remain as close together as gravity will allow. 

What's the Big Idea?

Astronomers' hunt for planets outside our solar system is just a few years old, but they have already confirmed the existence of more than 760 exoplanets, and more than 90 planetary systems have been found with more than one planet. Current detection techniques, however, favor finding massive planetsgas giants where life is unlikely to existthat orbit smaller stars. But further observations may reveal that, similar to our galaxy which is rife with planets, our own planetary arrangement may also be more mediocre than exceptional. 

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Wealth inequality is literally killing us. The economy should work for everyone.

This economy has us in survival mode, stressing out our bodies and minds.

  • Economic hardship is linked to physical and psychological illness, resulting in added healthcare expenses people can't afford.
  • The gig economy – think Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, Handy – is marketed as a 'be your own boss' revolution, but it can be dehumanizing and dangerous; every worker is disposable.
  • The cooperative business model can help reverse wealth inequality.
Keep reading Show less

The most culturally chauvinist people in Europe? Greeks, new research suggests

Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.

Image: Pew Research Center
Strange Maps
  • Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
  • Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
  • British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
Keep reading Show less

People who engage in fat-shaming tend to score high in this personality trait

A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.

Mind & Brain
  • The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
  • The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
  • People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Keep reading Show less