Feeds

Halley's comet is actually ALIEN VISITOR

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

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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). ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P
Plucky probot aces landing on high-speed space rock - emotional scenes in Darmstadt
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
THERE it is! Philae comet lander FOUND in EXISTING Rosetta PICS
Crumb? Pixel? ALIEN? Better, it's a comet-catcher!
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.