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Probable Rogue Planet Spotted 155

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the omarion-nebula dept.
Maow writes with news of a sighting of a rogue gas giant: "'This object was discovered during a scan that covered the equivalent of 1,000 times the [area] of the full moon,' said study co-author Etienne Artigau of the University of Montreal. 'We observed hundreds of millions of stars and planets, but we only found one homeless planet in our neighborhood.' This planet appears to be an astonishingly young 50-120 million years old. The original paper is on the arXiv. Here's hoping the Mayan End-of-World-2012 people don't seize upon this as some kind of impending rogue planet on a collision course with Earth, but one can expect it'll be bantered about on such forums." From the article: "The team believe it has a temperature of about 400C and a mass between four and seven times that of Jupiter - well short of the mass limit that would make it a likely brown dwarf."
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Probable Rogue Planet Spotted

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  • Why hope? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:24PM (#41982491)

    First, in the summary you forget to identify the distance: 100ly. Well, that pretty much rules out any worry of a collision even if at such a distance the alignment would be astronomically unlikely to be one which would allow for a collision.

    Second, why does anyone care if there is a 'spike' in discussion with the 2012 doomsayers? You think there WOULDN'T be a spike in discussion around December 2012? And who cares if there is? The good news, is that by January, all the 2012 end of the world nonsense will be over (Even if they are right ;) )

    My problem isn't any of that however. My problem is THIS travesty from the article:

    One tricky part is determining if rogue planet candidates are as massive as the "failed stars" known as brown dwarfs, further along in stellar evolution but without enough mass to spark the nuclear fusion that causes starlight.

    It's so freaking wrong I can't even parse it to bitch about it in any specific manner. And to me, that's the worst thing that could happen. If I can't complain, I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

  • Re:Why hope? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:38PM (#41982671)

    The good news, is that by January, all the 2012 end of the world nonsense will be over

    The bad news is that, by January, the next end of the world nonsense will begin.

  • Re:Why hope? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:47PM (#41982815) Homepage

    Second, why does anyone care if there is a 'spike' in discussion with the 2012 doomsayers? You think there WOULDN'T be a spike in discussion around December 2012? And who cares if there is? The good news, is that by January, all the 2012 end of the world nonsense will be over (Even if they are right ;) )

    No, such people don't adjust their beliefs to match reality. There will be endless theories about how it really meant 2013, how the calendar is off by a little, or how we're just reading it wrong.

    In fact, I expect them to spend a lot of time defending their position and trying to adapt their broken theory so it isn't quite so broken (according to their logic that is).

    Expect this bit of silliness to drag on for years.

  • Re:Why hope? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaveAtFraud (460127) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:55PM (#41982919) Homepage Journal

    ...Second, why does anyone care if there is a 'spike' in discussion with the 2012 doomsayers? You think there WOULDN'T be a spike in discussion around December 2012? And who cares if there is? The good news, is that by January, all the 2012 end of the world nonsense will be over (Even if they are right ;) )...

    I actually find the "2012 end of the world" hokum to be quite useful. It helps me identify the idiots. Somehow get the Mayan 2012 calendar end as the subject of conversation in a group and then note who buys into it. Do not ask these people anything in the way of meaningful questions. Stick to subjects like what they watched on television if you must talk to them although even that can be scary.

    Cheers,
    Dave

  • Re:How's that? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @03:13PM (#41983117)

    Not only is it ok to do with people, it's also pretty helpful. In fact, it's pretty much the basis for any demographical assumption.

    Hang out at the mall, typically around 4pm-8pm, with a bunch of people aged 14-17 and I can be fairly sure that your texting plan is well utilized.

    Take a look at a bus headed towards a slots 'casino'. You can see everyone in the bus but the driver is 60+ years old. Want to wager on the age of the person in the lavatory?

    Stop by the maternity ward of a hospital. Glance through the glass and take a guess at the age of the person in the third crib from the right.

    The nursery example above I like because for these new stars, there are regions where stars tend to be of similar age, composition, dispersal density. If you look at a region of space where everything is roughly the same age, or same type, or composition, it would be exceptionally odd to find something that was different.

    A perfect situation to apply Occam's Razor in my opinion. If everything else is pretty much normal to the region, then you would need a special case to describe something not normal to the area. For example:

    1. Planet formed elsewhere, and wandered in just as the stars formed. (Requires extra steps for this to be true, and the original hypothesis to be false)

    2. Planet formed before the stars in the region and the stars formed later. (Requires the planet to acquire enough gas to become large, but somehow stopped aggregating matter in a region which has enough to form stars, long enough for OTHER gravitationally strong objects to amass enough to becoem stars)

    I can go on, but it gets complex.

    A planet forming elsewhere would have an extremely high velocity relative to the velocity of the stars in the region. If you can detect it now, then you can detect it later. And 100 LY is close enough that you wouldn't have to wait long to determine the magnitude of that motion. You would know if it was 'just passing through', and since it is a rogue planet, by definition it isn't caught up with any of the stars and thus 'just passing through means it must be at least as old as the distance from the 'formation region' / velocity. But if it is travelling with the stars of that region, then it is very unlikely that it originated elsewhere and thus the question of "How could a very massive planet form in a region with enough matter to form fully fledged stars PAUSE in it's aggregation of matter?"

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