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Space Science

Mysterious Planet May Be Cruising For a Bruising 104

Posted by Soulskill
from the mark-your-calendars dept.
sciencehabit writes "Something is orbiting the bright star Fomalhaut in the constellation known as the Southern Fish, but no one knows exactly what it is. New observations carried out last year with the Hubble Space Telescope confirm that the mysterious object, known as Fomalhaut b, is traveling on a highly elongated path, but they haven't convincingly nailed down its true nature. But if it is a planet, as one team of astronomers thinks, we may be in for some celestial fireworks in 2032, when Fomalhaut b starts to plough through a broad belt of debris that surrounds the star and icy comets within the belt smash into the planet's atmosphere." Meanwhile, astronomers recently announced the discovery of the most Earth-like exoplanet yet seen, which orbits a G-type star, has a radius 1.5 times that of Earth and a year of about 242 days.
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Mysterious Planet May Be Cruising For a Bruising

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  • Re:25 Ly away (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2013 @12:51PM (#42559001)

    _Everything_ has already happened by the time you've seen it. So what?

  • Re:Its a trap! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2013 @12:53PM (#42559025)

    Sorry, Formalhaut is in this galaxy. We have yet to find a similar occurrence in a galaxy far away.

    As someone who name his computers after stars of importance in Frontier Elite II I approve of all stories about Formalhaut.

  • Re:25 Ly away (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2013 @12:54PM (#42559031)

    Minkowski spacetime does not work that way. There is no "already" in relativity.

  • It's not a planet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2013 @01:35PM (#42559471)

    By definition, a planet has cleared its orbit of material. If it's colliding with a belt of debris, it obviously hasn't done so.

    Have I mentioned yet how unnatural I think this new definition of a planet is? Its primary purpose seems to be to exclude Pluto and other Kuiper Belt objects from planetary status. Size, mass, and composition are all irrelevant and it's now the orbit of the object (and other objects!) that matter. As this article demonstrates, this new definition conflicts with common understanding of the term. The astronomers should have invented a new term to describe this orbital requirement instead of perverting an existing one.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2013 @02:03PM (#42559775)

    By definition, a planet has cleared its orbit of material. If it's colliding with a belt of debris, it obviously hasn't done so.

    Have I mentioned yet how unnatural I think this new definition of a planet is? Its primary purpose seems to be to exclude Pluto and other Kuiper Belt objects from planetary status. Size, mass, and composition are all irrelevant and it's now the orbit of the object (and other objects!) that matter. As this article demonstrates, this new definition conflicts with common understanding of the term. The astronomers should have invented a new term to describe this orbital requirement instead of perverting an existing one.

    You don't want "planet" to include all the crap that it would have to include in order to be self consistent and include Pluto. And frankly Pluto is obviously the "odd one out" when looking at the "9 planets". It's got by far the most eccentric orbit, is the smallest, and has very little to distinguish it from a big asteroid/comet. The only reason Pluto was considered a planet for so long was that it was discovered early enough that it was not yet apparent how many similar sized objects existed in the various debris fields in the solar system.

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