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
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.