Feeds

Astronomers spy proto-planetary hit-and-run

Have you seen this planetesimal?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

A new approach to endpoint data protection

Astronomers have spied evidence of planet formation occurring around nearby stars. Observers at the Gemini South 8-meter telescope in Chile, say details in the dusty disk around Beta Pictoris indicate collisions between planet-sized bodies have occurred as recently as in the last few decades.

The clump around Beta-pictoris where the suspected collision occurred

Dr. Charlie Telesco of the University of Florida, who led the team, commented: "Our research is a bit like a detective dusting for fingerprints to figure out a crime scene, only in this case we use the dust as a tracer to show what has happened within the cloud. The properties of the dust show not only that this was a huge collision, but that it probably happened recently in both astronomical and even on human timescales."

The observations, taken in the mid-infrared, reveal a higher concentration of fine particles of dust, rock and ice in one region of the disk. The debris has given the disk around the star a lopsided appearance. Scientists involved in the research say that dust this fine is dispersed quickly after a collision, suggesting that these are the remains of a relatively recent crash.

Collisions between planetesimals, large bodies of rock and ice, is thought to be behind the formation of the planets in our own solar system. This particular crash is thought to be of equivalent size to the incident that may have created our moon: a Mars sized body ran into what would become the Earth, and the moon was formed from the resulting debris.

Telesco went on: "It is as if we were looking back about five billion years and watching our own solar system as it was forming into what we see today." ®

Related stories

Deep Impact en route to Tempel 1
Extra-solar planet snapped by galactic paparazzi
NASA celebrates martian Spirit of adventure

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Boffins spot weirder quantum capers as neutrons take the high road, spin takes the low
Cheshire cat effect see neutrons and their properties walk different paths
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?