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Two Exocomet Families Found Around Baby Star System 23

astroengine writes Scientists have found two families of comets in the developing Beta Pictoris star system, located about 64 light-years from Earth, including one group that appears to be remnants of a smashed-up protoplanet. The discovery bolsters our theoretical understanding of the violent processes that led to the formation of Earth and the other terrestrial planets in the solar system. "If you look back at the solar system when it was only 22 million years old, you might have seen phenomena that's a like more like what's happening in Beta Pic," astrophysicist Aki Roberge, with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., told Discovery News.
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Two Exocomet Families Found Around Baby Star System

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  • Wrong distance away (Score:5, Informative)

    by dunkindave ( 1801608 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @08:14PM (#48208865)
    Beta Pictoris is 63.4 light years away, not 64 million light years. 64 million light years would be at the other end of the galaxy and probably not even observable. When the article gets basic facts wrong I stop reading.
    • Sorry to follow up on my own post, but 64 million light years would be many galaxies away, not just across the Milky Way. My bad.
      • by ganv ( 881057 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @08:36PM (#48208985)
        That error jumped out to me also. Its like describing a city 93 miles away and instead saying it is 93 million miles away which instead of being 1.5 hour drive is all the way to the sun. It is really useful to get a cosmic distance scale in your head: billions of light years is the size of the visible universe, millions of light years are distances to nearby galaxies. 30,000 light years is the distance to the center of our galaxy. 4 light years is the distance to the nearest stars.
        • What does it matter really? Thanks to that relativity thing we will never ever get anywhere anyway, it could be a trillion light years or 50 light years, it just won't matter because at the end of the day all we will EVER get to do is look at the past through our little telescopes because we are out here in the asshole end of a spiral arm, too far from anything good to get anywhere.

          Sorry if that is depressing but if you look at pics of the Milky Way there is plenty of places where you can practically hop

          • by ganv ( 881057 )
            Maybe it matters even if we can't easily travel there. For example, how many super-nova candidates are within 1000 light years of home? Not all stuff is 'good stuff'. There are good reasons to be glad that we are in a pretty low density region of the galaxy.
      • by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @11:59PM (#48210023)

        Sorry to follow up on my own post, but 64 million light years would be many galaxies away, not just across the Milky Way. My bad.

        Yep, we're talking nine chevrons here.

      • Don't worry, I stopped reading halfway through your original post.
    • In five years, Kay, the Beta Pictoris Exocomet family will be totally legit.
    • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @08:53PM (#48209079)

      The linked article got it wrong, which is why the summary is wrong. As usual, the linked article is garbage and you have to dig into links you find there to get something close to reality.

      Reasonably well written summary here: http://phys.org/news/2014-10-f... [phys.org]
      Research here: http://www.nature.com/nature/j... [nature.com]

    • by rossdee ( 243626 )

      we certasinly wouldn't be able to see any comets at that distance, no matter how good our telescopes get.

    • Other end of the galaxy?! Come on, the Andromeda galaxy is about 2.5 million LY away.
      • by mbone ( 558574 )

        He didn't say which galaxy it would be at the other end of. Of course, at a redshift (z) ~ 0.005, there would be lots to choose from.

    • 64 million light years would be at the other end of the galaxy

      ...a completely different one to boot. :-D

    • Oh, dear. That was a screamer of a mistake. Stopped reading right away, too and went right to the comments bashing. Not disappointed. :3
    • Not even a writer for the original Trek would have made that mistake, and we know how those guys felt about keeping things plausible: Nazi planet, gangster planet, second Earth, and so forth.
  • Teh Fux0rz? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    64 MILLION light years you say? Looks like there's no need to ever invest another dime in planet-finding equipment if we can already image comets around an individual star in a galaxy that's 32 times farther away than Andromeda.

    Either that or Samzenpus is an idiot who makes a fine example of why the minimum wage is too high.

  • by CaptainLard ( 1902452 ) on Thursday October 23, 2014 @12:51PM (#48213955)
    Most posts are attacking a typo (and rightfully so, this being /.) but I'm amazed that we can now see comets in other star systems! Are these comets more like planets (or destroyed planets as the summary says) or what we'd normally think of as dozens to hundreds of km in diameter? Whats special about this system that we can see it? The star isn't bright/dense enough yet?

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun