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Is This Humanity's New Home In The Galaxy?

A fresh start. Just a few minor issues to work out first.

Posted on July 12, 2013, at 1:37 p.m. ET

This is a NASA composition of HD 189733b, a planet discovered by the Hubble Telescope. Casting off a deep gorgeous blue, it could be mistaken for a slightly cloudy Earth.

Is this it? Is this the culmination of decades of research and spending on space? Is this... our chance? Blur your eyes and you can almost see fresh continents; let your mind relax and you can visualize the countries within, their unfamiliar borders sketched by reason and kindness, not war and resources. Or maybe there are no borders at all.

You can just as easily imagine a happy race of humans, or something better than humans. The only trouble they've ever known is boredom, and even that they've done away with — they're well-adjusted enough, after a short time, to know what they have. And they've heard dark tales of this Earth, the galaxy's ruined paradise.

You might see this place and want to move there. Maybe it's an opportunity to start over, a chance for mankind to get it right this time. A chance to feel the easy joy of a new beginning. Just... maybe.

So, what do we know about this HD 189733b or, as I like to call it, Happy Days 189733b? According to NASA:

At a distance of 63 light-years from us, this... world is one of the nearest exoplanets to Earth that can be seen crossing the face of its star.

Hmm, that's a little far. But technology moves fast! What else?

This illustration shows HD 189733b, a huge gas giant that orbits very close to its host star HD 189733. The planet's atmosphere is scorching with a temperature of over 1000 degrees Celsius, and it rains glass, sideways, in howling 7000 kilometre-per-hour winds.
Ah, well then. Never mind. As you were.