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Exoplanet ranking suggests INTERSTELLAR WAR imminent

Too late to recall idiotic message beamed at alien star

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An international team of boffins has ranked the various extra-terrestrial planets and moons known to humanity in order of ability to sustain life. It's bad news for the human race, as the planets of the Gliese 581 star system are near the top of the list: and if an intelligent race is present there, we have already mortally offended it.

Artist's conception showing the inner four planets of the Gliese 581 system. GJ 581g, potentially habitable, is in the foreground. Credit: Lynette Cook/NSF

TURN IT DOWN! Right, that's it. Warm up the strategic tachyon accelerators, Commander. Set beam intensity to 'eradicate'.

The new habitability study has involved the collaborating scientists devising two different indexes for rating worlds, in proper scientifiction style*. We now have the Earth Similarity Index (ESI), showing how much like Earth a body is, on which Earth is 1, Mars is 0.7 and our Moon is 0.56.

The scientists have also worked out a Planet Habitability Index (PHI), based on such things as planetary magnetic fields, atmosphere, likely local temperatures etc. Titan, icy natural-gas slush moon of Saturn, scores high on this at 0.64.

But, very worryingly, the planets of the dim, red M-class star Gliese 581 - lying just 20 light-years away in the constellation Libra - score high up the listings in both systems. Under ESI, the exoplanets Gliese 581g, d and c are the next three most habitable known worlds after Earth: and they are also well up under PHI.

Normally this would not be cause for alarm, but - as regular readers of Reg exoplanet coverage will know - should there be intelligent aliens at Gliese 581 they will soon have an intense and well-justified grievance against us.

This is because back in 2008 the management of the doomed teenybopper social-networking portal Bebo, for reasons which seemed good to them at the time, collected a huge and infamous compilation of web-2.0 content from their site's users, addressed at possible aliens resident at Gliese 581. They then hired the unscrupulous Russian astronomer Alexander Zaitsev to beam this horrendous guff-blast at the red star from a powerful Ukraininan radar telescope.

Sample comments offered as humanity's possible first messages to a powerful and sophisticated alien culture:

Our bodies are made of bones ... We have senses. Smell, Taste, Sight and Touch. Without any of these things, we wouldn't live.

I love Television. We watch animated cartoons and real-life drama on it. I could sit and watch Television all day.

Hi im nicole ... someday i would love to appear on the west end stage, in a hit show.i also wouldnt mind doing a few television programs whether it is as a extra or a main part i dont mind i would love to appear on doctor who as i love it. anyway laters.Nicole x

All these, and many other foulnesses such as pictures of cats, boy crooners, amusing vegetables etc, are on their way unstoppably towards Gliese 581 and will arrive at that star system in March 2029. Even if the aliens have not yet developed star travel, planet- or sun-smasher missiles, world-volatilising krenon rays etc, this will surely be a powerful spur to the development and instant employment of such weapons against the civilisation which could, unprovoked, commit such an interstellar solecism.

Truly these are worrying times. The new rankings are published in the journal Astrobiology. ®

*As E E "Doc" Smith would say, "Earthlike to ten decimals".

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