back to article NASA: Solar system may have alien origin

The latest data from NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) probe has found a curious disparity in the distribution of some of the key elements of our solar system, notably why there is so much oxygen in it. IBEX, launched in 2008 to study the composition of interstellar space, has been gathering data on the amount of …

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Anonymous Coward

Nahhh.

Easier explanation.

Dark trees.... You can't see them, but they make oxygen from the sunlight.

Hey, why not? Dark something seem to be the solution to every other theory that starts to get a bit strained these days! ;-)

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Trollface

We're sorry AC, dark trees is close

but It's not the correct answer. Dark plankton is the name of the oxygen maker we were looking for.

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Anonymous Coward

Some people will down vote anything.

Get a sense of humour you miserable git.

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Dark Space Plankton surely?

It sounds much better... Daarrk Spaaaaace Plankton!

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Coat

No no, there is a much simpler explanation, the benign alien overlords when they engineered the solar system manufactured extra oxygen to make sure life got started.

After all the outer two planets, Uranus and Neptune, are in the ‘wrong place’, they exist in a in a region of space where the density of the solar nebula was too low to allow them to form. The outer gas giants must have been created by self-replicating von Neumann machines, or as those of us in the know prefer to call them, “The monoliths”, as they were between jobs after creating the extra oxygen, so to kill some time they made Uranus and Neptune before moving on to the next project. Jupiter is probably in the wrong place as well, it happened when the monoliths mixed up SI and imperial units of measurement.

Mines the one with a copy of Terry Pratchett’s Strata in the pocket.

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Holmes

Sense of humour? Is that compatible with someone who accesses El Reg?

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@FredScummer

I would say essential!

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Happy

String Plankton-

why not?

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Dark Space Plankton is very good..

Doesn't Black Plankton send a chill down your back? (the internal rime; the drip drip drip of onomatopoeia; you'll be sleeping with the light on for a week.)

Of course, Max Plankton is the real deal.

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Sleeping with the light on would be a mistake. You'll only be helping it photosynthesise!

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Maybe the key word is neutral

Oxygen likes to form ions when other atoms are around, and stick to them. Neon doesn't; it's a free spirit by comparison. Ratios of other elements are obviously needed before judgements can be made, so it would've been useful to see such information in the story.

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Alien

Fusion Reactor?

Perhaps somewhere inside our solar system is a huge fusion reactor taking raw elements and fusing them into heavier atoms such as oxygen and spewing them out into the space inside our heliosphere. It would have to be pretty big and have a self-sustaining fusion reaction to affect the oxygen concentration like that. I wonder where the aliens would have put it?

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You mean a reactor like the sun?

It would be interesting to note if they identified the concentrations of particular isotopes. Since O16 is produced by the CNO-2 cycle inside our sun, it might be reasonable to assume that some escape the sun to pair up as a molecule and carry sufficient kinetic energy to reach orbit into the solar system before being reconsumed.

Perhaps if they could also identify non-neutral species as well and do measurements at different orbital radii we might find that gradients exist within the population as a function of distance. Such information may yield insight as to where the building blocks of life may naturally accumulate and what type of life is most likely to manifest itself in those locales.

Alien origins indeed.

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Devil

I know where I'd put it.

The same place where Newt Gingrich puts his Preparation H.

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Headmaster

Yep!

That is my point exactly.

The fact that the heliosphere acts as a bubble around the solar system should allow a localized, and as you pointed out quite possibly in a gradient fashion decreasing with distance, concentration of oxygen to accumulate as it's being emitted from the sun.

With the particle counts the experiment reported, I don't think it's an unreasonable hypothesis.

Infact, I would also postulate that if the sun wasn't emitting trace amounts of oxygen into the heliosphere, then within the bubble, I would expect less amounts of free oxygen than in the interstellar medium due to the oxidation of other molecules within the heliosphere.

To actually study this, I would propose a spacecraft similar to IBEX, but nuclear powered and launched the same as New Horizons, on a trajectory headed straight for interstellar space. It also could be loaded with other instruments specifically designed to measure the termination shock and heliopause in greater detail than the Voyagers have been able to.

I find it extremely easy to believe that the solar system has moved far away from it's original birthplace, but I seriously doubt that the oxygen concentration within the heliosphere hasn't changed significantly in that time.

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Rather than the solar system moving...

...is it possible the wind changed direction since the sun formed and created the heliosphere? Or maybe the gasses being blown by the wind have changed by time.

Yes, lets jump to the explanation that someone stuck a big hook in the sun and dragged it here. Didn't the timelords do it in Doctor Who many years ago?

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Coat

Wind?

Wasn't that the sneeze of the Great Green Arkleseizure?

Mine is the one with the H2G2 radio plays in the pocket

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May have alien origin ? "MAY" ?

You mean there is a possibility that humans did not create the Solar System?!

What ludicrous nonsense. I thought the consensus was that human activity was responsible for the localised warming of this region of the galaxy.

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Anonymous Coward

Humans create ?

It wasent humans that created the sun it was GOD and the easter bunny

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Joke

Oh now, be fair. The Easter bunny was only holding the easel.

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WTF?

The man is right! God created the earth in 7 days, the first 6 being spent on the earth, and the 7th being spend creating somewhere in the region of a billion stars in our galaxy, plus planets, gas giants, comets, moons and other assorted celestial bodies. He then went the extra mile by creating around FIVE HUNDRED BILLION galaxies, according to NASA's current expectation. Each presumably containing about a billion stars, with each of those with a stellar system including it's own planets. Given the number of stellar systems we are talking about, presumably he also created life in a few of these as well.

. . . It's strange how he did all of that in one day though, given he had to spend six days creating earth?

Not that I actually beleive in any religion, but it's fun to occasionally think rationally about it just to hold up how utterly absurd creationist accounts are.

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Pint

We are

The prototype! Unfortunately he/she/it failed to have a decent QA staff..

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Joke

Well, you've got to tool up for the job haven't you?

Then there's the time spent reading the instructions that'll have been badly translated from Swedish, and won't have any words, just those stupid little pictures.

And you can never find screw type 'H' when you need them. And those little fiddly packs of PVA you get in ketchup sachets...

Once you've done one though and got it sorted, you can knock the rest out in no time....

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Happy

You've got it wrong

He created the world in six days, then rested for a day.

Then it was Monday again. And just like you and me, it was back to work, creating the rest of the universe. Probably took him several six-day weeks.

The bible is inerrant, but it doesn't include absolutely everything God ever did.

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Ok, you got me there. How much time I spend studying scripture probably shows. That said, if we were to accept "god" needs to spend a week on each system and we also accept that the universe is 6 thousand years old (I think that's the Christian figure?) then he must have started working overtime at some point to account for the numbers of planets in every galaxy in the universe.

Just saying.

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Joke

Obvious really, prototype build vs. mass production.......

So somewhere in the Universe there must be an enormous factory turning out suns, planets and such, staffed by angels.

Everything available in a variety of colours and finishes, although in the early aeons of mass production you could have any colour you wanted, as long as it was black. This explains Dark Matter.

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@Peter2

Well either he sub-contracted the job or it's all just scenery...

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That would be on*

Magrathea.

*Or in it, in n-spatial terms...

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Unhappy

Should have used the "Joke Alert"...

To the person who down-voted me - the crack above about taking several six-day weeks to create the universe and the bible being inerrant was meant to be a joke...

...unless I've offended a bible-basher by suggesting God would take more than 6 days...

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Martin; To be honest mate, If any bible bashers read this thread, they'd be far to busy spluttering over some of the previous posts to get to yours.

Probably just someone with a complete lack of a sense of humour.

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surprised?!!!!!!!?

as the holy bible states at creation water and darkness, hydrogen and oxygen not hydrogen and helium as scientists masticate!!!!!!!

love,

kirk

http://kgc1.ws !!!!!!!

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Mushroom

Please go home

Your paradigm is on fire.

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@Wombling_Free: Well, yes.

His is the one with the oxygen in it.

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Holy hell

interstellar wind at 52,000 mph. Wow, god has some terrible gas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlVa8qvrPlQ

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But we need to know

Can one surf the Bow Shock?

Imagine the rush.

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Anonymous Coward

the silver surfer can :)

(body)

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Paris Hilton

Why is the Solar System (almost) the same as the Milky Way?

That seems the more anomalous result to me. Why does this local interstellar gas differ from the rest of the galaxy (at least according to the diagram at the beginning).

Paris, 'cos well, one suspects her of having too little oxygen at infancy....

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Go

They're coming!

Obviously the giant space goats have consumed the oxygen. For the future of the species all politicians, lawyers, estate agents etc. should leave Earth immediately.

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Mushroom

@They're coming!

IT people as well?

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@Mystic

Thats space balls :-) You can recognize them when we suddenly see a giant robot maid in the sky who's coming to suck away our air.

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Anonymous Coward

Where have I heard this before?

Talk about "All this happened before, and all this will happen again."

But, this time, let us pray keep those Telephone Sanitizers though.....

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Don't even need them!

"""But, this time, let us pray keep those Telephone Sanitizers though....."""

If you look at it, our society has progressed to the point where we no longer share phone handsets! So we can ship out the Telephone Sanitizers' Union along with the rest.

Great, now I feel like a gin and tonic, and it's not even lunch time yet.

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Childcatcher

"life-giving oxygen" ?

For us maybe but in other forms of life oxygen is toxic at it was to early forms of life on earth.

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Alert

Pretty toxic to us if we get too much as well :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_toxicity

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Boffin

Also needed for CO2

...which the earliest life forms would have converted into O2, initially poisoning them and only later becoming useful for sustaining life.

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Childcatcher

Neon

Neon is neutral and wil diffuse more or less uniformly through space. Oxygen ions are looking to bind to another atom so may well linger in the vicinity of other atoms and thus accumulate in solar systems.

Is this a reasonable explanation?

I'll have the coat with the oxygen tank please.

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I would like to know why those interstellar Pac-mans are eating all the Neon.

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FAIL

And in other news...

David McComas is also arguing that, until very recently, the atmosphere was 100% peas. "My wife was putting peas in water through a sieve. The concentration of peas in the sieve was 100%, but the peas-and-water solution contained barely 20% pea. I conclude the sieve must have just passed through a very pea-rich environment."

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Agreed the "B" Ark is ready and waiting...

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