Feeds

Halley's comet is actually ALIEN VISITOR

Most of Oort Cloud 'of extra-solar origin', say boffins

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Halley's comet and other famous objects in our solar system may in fact have formed in orbit around alien suns far off across the vast gulfs of interstellar space, according to new research.

Comets, Halley's in particular, are old friends of the human race and their regular appearances in the inner solar system are thought to have been noted in humanity's earliest records. But in astronomical terms human intelligence is a very new thing - indeed, so is life on Earth.

According to top international boffins, long long before our home planet had even formed, the Sun and the various stars in our local neighbourhood were much closer together. The accretion discs of dust and space gumble from which all the planets and comets and everything originally formed were almost touching, and matter was routinely passed around among the young and excitable stars.

"When it was young, the Sun shared a lot of spit with its siblings, and we can see that stuff today," says Colorado-based boffin Dr Hal Levison.

Levison and his colleagues believe that the comets forming among the local stellar cloud were then mostly hurled out of their home systems by the newly forming giant planets such as Jupiter and Saturn.

But then the hottest young stars exerted a sort of interstellar blowing effect, blasting most of the dust and gas away and dispersing the tightly clustered proto-suns. Flying comets were then captured by whichever stars they were passing at the time.

Our own Sun's population of comets spend most of their time out in the far-flung Oort Cloud, which reaches halfway to the nearest star. Some, like Halley's, make occasional brief plunges into the inner system where we live.

According to Levison and his colleagues, the Oort cloud has far too much stuff in it to have accumulated merely from the Sun's own original accretion disc. Thus much of it must have been originally from somewhere else.

"If we assume that the Sun's observed proto-planetary disk can be used to estimate the indigenous population of the Oort cloud," says Levison, "we can conclude that more than 90 percent of the observed Oort cloud comets have an extra-solar origin."

The new research is published online by Science Express, here (subscription link). ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

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 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
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.