Feeds

Dusty star could conceal alien 'Earth'

Rocky planets make a comeback

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

US Astronomers have discovered a sun-like star wrapped in a shroud of dust, prompting speculation that the system could harbour a young Earth.

The star, named (poetically as always) BD +20 307, lies around 300 light-years away from us, in the constellation of Aries, but could still shed light on the formation of rocky, Earth-like planets.

The observations, carried out using the Gemini and Keck telescopes in Hawaii, reveal an extremely dusty system. In fact, it is the dustiest environment ever observed so close to a star so similar to our sun - around a million times dustier than our solar system.

In addition, the dust seems to have been produced by collisions of asteroids, or even planet-sized objects at a distance from the star comparable to the Earth's orbit around the sun. The researchers speculate that the collisions must have been fairly recent, and very intense to produce so much debris.

"The amount of warm dust near BD+20 307 is so unprecedented I wouldn't be surprised if it was the result of a massive collision between planet-size objects, for example, a collision like the one which many scientists believe formed Earth's moon," said Benjamin Zuckerman, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy and a co-author on the paper, published in the latest issue of Nature.

Researchers estimate that the star, slightly larger than the sun, is around 300m years old. This means any large planets, like Jupiter, would already have formed, and would influence the dynamics of rocky planet formation. The collisions that produced the dust in this system must the researchers say, have been between objects at least 300km across.

"Whatever massive collision occurred, it managed to totally pulverize a lot of rock," said team member Alycia Weinberger. ®

Related stories

Google finds sense of humo(u)r on surface of Moon
Germany backs ESA's mission to Mars
Planetary three-sun baffles boffins

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
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.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.