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Space Science

Baby Red Dwarf Found Just 27 Light Years Away 78

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the think-i'll-swing-by-for-lunch dept.
bazzalunatic writes "Astronomers have found an infant red dwarf star 27 light years away from Earth, and it's just 40 million years old. 'The star has been known about and studied for the past 15 years, but it wasn't realized it was so young and so close, until now,' co-author Simon Murphy, a PhD student from the Australian National University said in the story. More accurate measurements from telescopes have aided the revised distances of the star dubbed 'AP Colombae.'"
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Baby Red Dwarf Found Just 27 Light Years Away

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  • by blair1q (305137) on Tuesday August 30, 2011 @03:56PM (#37257384) Journal

    fun, fun, fun....

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A roach (fish) once swam up to my submerged foot and nibbled my toe. It wasn't fun. It was startling and scary for a split second. I suspect the same would hold for goldfish. Having goldfish shoals nibbling at your toes should be an acquired enjoyment, I think.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      ...in the sun, sun, sun...

    • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Tuesday August 30, 2011 @05:11PM (#37258172)

      Mods, this is not offtopic. It's a reference to the theme song of the science fiction comedy Red Dwarf [wikipedia.org]. Consider your geek cards revoked.

    • by Dogtanian (588974)

      That makes me think... I want to start up a garra rufa pedicure business [wikipedia.org] just so I can call it "Red Dwarf" and be pleased when a few people spot the clever reference. (*)

      It'll all be fun and games until the business goes bankrupt because 99% of people don't have a damn clue what it does. Either that or it'll be a smash hit with geeks, who knows?

      (*) It has to be a *few* people. If no-one got it, that would suck... but somewhat perversely it would also suck if everyone got it too.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Obligatory...

      It's Nibiru we're all gonna die!!!

  • by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday August 30, 2011 @04:03PM (#37257456)
    Cause Judas Rimmer would be a silly name.
    • by bareman (60518)

      or Smeghead!

    • by gnick (1211984)

      To my recollection, Lister was the only one to have babies on the show. It's only appropriate. Although I don't remember their names. Maybe Frankenstein to honor two of the Crew.

  • Does it have inside of it a baby Cat, baby Lister, baby Kryten, and baby holographic Rimmer?
  • Does anyone know how far away they previously thought this start was? And when do I get my cryo-chamber?
    • by osu-neko (2604)
      I believe they previously didn't. That is to say, they didn't really know how far away it was prior to taking this measurement, but in the absence of the measurement, expected that when they did measure the distance, they'd find it was a more typical, brighter red dwarf, further away. That when they measured it and it turned out to be this close was surprising, but they didn't really have a distance number they thought prior to getting this result.
      • by RockDoctor (15477)
        Well, at 12-50 ly (4~13 or so parsecs), this is unlikely to be startlingly dim, so it should be in Hipparcos. But being red ... maybe it didn't make the cut.

        But why speculate. The cited Arxiv entry gives you the star's several names ; SIMBAD then gives you the rest [u-strasbg.fr]:
        Yes, we're talking about flare stars, which is right ; M5 sounds good. 6-7 mag sounds good ... "distance" is given as 4pc, and the source for that is Astron. J., 132, 866-872 (2006) - 27.07.06 25.08.09 August 2006 "Identification of new M dwarf

  • by Jeng (926980) on Tuesday August 30, 2011 @04:24PM (#37257688)

    Ok so this is the youngest of stars within x range of us.

    Couldn't you describe any star in such a fashion?

    I think this is pretty cool to think that this star is younger than the dinosaurs, but I would have thought that would still be cool no matter the distance it was from us?

    • The cool thing about it is how close it is, not it's relative uniqueness or comparison to an arbitrary group.
      Here, and now we know - fairly nearby, we have a very interesting baby star that we can study closely. That's neat.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Chmarr (18662)

      > Couldn't you describe any star in such a fashion?

      No.

      For any range X there is a "youngest star" within that range. The reverse is not true.

      • by drosboro (1046516)

        > Couldn't you describe any star in such a fashion?

        No.

        For any range X there is a "youngest star" within that range. The reverse is not true.

        Sure it is! You just have to define the range so narrowly that only that star falls in the range. :)

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Tuesday August 30, 2011 @04:33PM (#37257764) Homepage
    It seems that over the last few years we've had more and more objects which have turned out to be really surprisingly close. Earlier this month, WISE discovered a set of brown dwarfs which are even closer to us http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/08/24/1520206/NASA-Discovers-7th-Closest-Star [slashdot.org]. WISE has turned out to be a very good investment. Although it was primarily made for the discovery and tracking of near-Earth asteroids, it has turned out to be very useful for near stellar astronomy. This is a different situation than the brown dwarfs because this was an object which we knew about but didn't realize was so nearby. AP Columbae is both very close, and very young. It is only 40 million years old, which makes it very young. TFA discusses how they used the lithium levels in the star to estimate its age. This is a standard technique that is also used to distinguish between cool stars and brown dwarfs since brown dwarfs don't touch their lithium enough to substantially reduce the quantities (although in this case we already knew that this was a star and not a brown dwarf). One thing to note is that this star is extremely faint. Even though it is so close it has an apparent magnitude of around +13 which means that you can't see it unless you have a very big telescope (With apparent magnitude large numbers are fainter. So for example, Venus has an apparent magnitude of around -5 and Sirius has an apparent magnitude of about -1.4. +13 is really dim.) So we have a very dim, small star right nearby.
    • How crowed is our local stellar neighborhood? Is there any estimate of how many stars are within 50 or 100 light years of the Sun, and if such a number exists, what are the error ranges? It seems like the technology is available for an organized effort for a local star census. Is anything like this currently happening?

      It is a really great time for astronomy right know. I hope there are more posts like this.

  • We should pop over for the weekend...

  • Is anyone else reminded of Asimov's novel, Nemesis? Here's to the discovered closeness of this red dwarf upsetting the gravitational stability of our solar system!
  • There is no page for AP Columbae .. how can that be?

    NB. The WP search says, "Did you mean 'APA Columbae?'", but if you go for that option, it still finds no results. That bug has been around for a while in Google.

  • Red Dwarf? I think Red Little Star is more appropriate.

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