Science in the TorahWonders of Creation

Are We Alone in the Universe?

NASA announced that it found 10 planets that have the size and temperatures found here on earth. These planets were found in the last series of observations of the Kepler Telescope which checked 20,000 stars in the Cygnus galaxy which is 1,500 light years away from our solar system. Previously, only 50 such planets were discovered.

The 10 planets recently discovered have the biggest chance of having life. In addition to the size and temperatures of these planets which is similar to earth they are found in what astronomers call the ‘Goldilocks Zone’, (not too hot, not too cold and just right). This is the distance between them and their sun that promotes stable comfortable temperatures as we have on earth which also allows for water to exist in liquid form and pool up into seas instead of evaporating or freezing solid. Scientists believe that when seas can exist life can exist.

Since 2009 when the Kepler Telescope was launched, it discovered 2335 planets beyond our solar system and another 1,699 candidates for the planet title. Kepler’s mission was to discover if there are planets similar to earth that can support life. Confirming Kepler’s findings with images from other telescopes, astronomers ascertained the existence of 3,500 planets beyond our solar system.

NASA researchers also developed a way to predict the surface conditions of the planet in question. If they are earth size or up to 75% larger they will be rocky like our earth. Planets 2- 3.75 the size of earth will have a gaseous surface like Neptune. Such planets cannot support life.
Now that these planets were discovered with properties that can encourage life we can ask: ‘Are we alone in the universe?’

Judaism doesn’t believe in extraterrestrial life and the possibility it exists doesn’t change the way we serve G-d. Leaving to space and even orbiting earth would make keeping mitzvoth like praying 3 times a day difficult for an observant Jew. When does a day start? When does it end? When is Shabbat? 

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