Feeds

Halley's comet is actually ALIEN VISITOR

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

Seven Steps to Software Security

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). ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.