back to article Hubble spies unlikely planet being born in hostile neighborhood

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has spotted what appears to be a baby planet sweeping up matter from a protoplanetary disk orbiting a red dwarf star some 176 light-years away from Earth. If, indeed, this planetary formation activity is what the Hubble's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) has observed, …


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  1. Christoph Silver badge

    Caused by a nearby sister star?

    Possibly another star forming nearby at the same time could have caused enough of an instability to get part of the cloud to collapse? Especially as it's very far from the star so more vulnerable to interference from stellar neighbours.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ok so

      Ok so we have this information, now what do we do with it, what practical application does this have.

      Personally, I'd not want to know or be given notice that the Earth is about to be swallowed by a black hole or destroyed in a supernova explosion of alien gasses.

      Which incidentally will happen at 11.03 and 30sec GMT next Friday morning. I'm more annoyed it couldn't wait till after the weekend, I have a barbecue planned.


      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Yag

        Ignorance is bliss

        Try a lobotomy then, I heard it's very effective despite some drooling issues side effects.

    2. Wzrd1

      Re: Caused by a nearby sister star?

      That was my thought, a possible brown dwarf sweeping up the debris. It's about the right distance to not be a planet, but a brown dwarf sister.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh no! The Planet Killer!

    Does anybody have a star ship I can borrow? oh, and, uh, it might get a little dinged up....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      It's not really happening you know, it's all part of the great scientific conspiracy. Let me explain.

      For years nothing has happened far out to space, it's dead, it's quiet and it's dark. Of course, this then poses the question as to why we bother looking at it?

      It is all a question of economics and job availability. Without something happening who would bother investing billions to study it? So the scientific community get together and every now and again release a picture of something they claim is scientifically important, when in fact it is a drawing by a three year old with her dinner of spag bol spilt all over it.

      This in turn gives the impression that it has great scientific value so more money can be pumped in to finance it.

      It has been going on for years you know, the moon landing, faked, first man in space, faked, that Mars rover thingy, filmed on a set in a back garden and those about to whistleblow, they get rid of them in spectacular rocket explosions. Which, incidentally were never intended to get to space. The reason?

      Space is boring, dark, quiet, nothing to do or look at and cold.

      Oh, you ask about the space station, filmed in an old building just outside of Milton Keynes. Now with CGI they've got better at faking it.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: CGI

        You don't understand. There *is* no "space"! There is only a huge cardboard sky. Far enough to allows one to put geostationaries into orbit so that TV can be beamed into our homes, but not much more. We are f*cked - but by whom?

        With the scissors Pris snipped off one of the spider's legs.

        In the living room Buster Friendly on the TV screen said, "Take a look at this enlargement of a section of background. This is the sky you usually see. Wait, I'll have Earl Parameter, head of my research staff, explain their virtually world-shaking discovery to you."

        Pris clipped off another leg, restraining the spider with the edge of her hand. She was smiling.

        "Blowups of the video pictures," a new voice from the TV said, "when subjected to rigorous laboratory scrutiny, reveal that the gray backdrop of sky and daytime moon against which Mercer moves is not only not Terran — it is artificial."

        "You're missing it!" Irmgard called anxiously to Pris; she rushed to the kitchen door, saw what Pris had begun doing. "Oh, do that afterward," she said coaxingly. This is so important, what they're saying; it proves that everything we believed — "

        "Be quiet," Roy Baty said.

        " — is true," Irmgard finished.

        The TV set continued, "The 'moon' is painted; in the enlargements, one of which you see now on your screen, brushstrokes show. And there is even some evidence that the scraggly weeds and dismal, sterile soil — perhaps even the stones hurled at Mercer by unseen alleged parties — are equally faked. It is quite possible in fact that the 'stones' are made of soft plastic, causing no authentic wounds."

        "In other words," Buster Friendly broke in, "Wilbur Mercer is not suffering at all."

        The research chief said, "We've at last managed, Mr. Friendly, to track down a former Hollywood special-effects man, a Mr. Wade Cortot, who flatly states, from his years of experience, that the figure of 'Mercer' could well be merely some bit player marching across a sound stage. Cortot has gone so far as to declare that he recognizes the stage as one used by a now out-of-business minor moviemaker with whom Cortot had various dealings several decades ago."

        "So according to Cortot," Buster Friendly said, "there can be virtually no doubt."

      2. Tchou

        Re: CGI

        Unfortunately for you even an amateur telescope can see the space station :

        Have a nice week end (which by the way might well be faked too - It really is Monday!)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: CGI@Tchou

          Nope you are wrong, it is a plastic model fastened to a wire.

        2. Wzrd1

          Re: CGI

          One problem, just to have fun with this one.

          The OP mentioned geostationary orbit, which is not low Earth orbit, where the ISS hangs out.

          So, having fun and running with the ball, it would still be probable. Save for the bit where CGI didn't exist during the Apollo program and the astronauts not really walking on the moon, they largely hopped and fell down, shuffled a bit, no walking.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All Wrong

    Intelligent Design says this cannot happen, therefore it doesn't.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Or ..

    There could be a more prosaic explanation. Planets may form when extra solar bodies happen to pass through the disk and are captured by the newly born star. The distance of the planet would depend on the entry angle of the body and not one the dynamics of the system.

    Paris, because with the right entry angle I bet she could also capture a passing body ...

  5. Richard 12 Silver badge

    Who said it was natural?

    Maybe somebody out there is building something big!

    Large numbers of grains of sand sounds like a reasonable place to grab a large amount og material. Drop a few Von Neumann machines in there and let them get on with it, come back a few thousand years later when it's built.

    After the device is built, consuming much of the material near the orbit where they dropped the initial probes, the remaining debris would probably show up like this.

    They'd want to harvest from a distant orbit because the escape energy is lower, and they'd aim for the bit originally relatively dense (near the middle of the dust cloud) to get lots of material.

    Worth considering, right?

    1. Rob Carriere

      Re: Who said it was natural?

      And they'd be aiming for something, say, the size of a small moon?

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Who said it was natural?

        That's not a moon.

  6. mr-tom

    Borg Cube

    Prepare to be assimilated.

    1. Retro Man

      Re: Borg Cube

      The Collective is Collecting ... . . .

  7. Winkypop Silver badge

    Mind the gap


  8. Joerg

    They keep spreading false info and fake science...

    .. they would know when that supposed to be planet would have been created based on what ?

    They know nothing!

    Unless they got some really advanced alien technology... or better yet unless they got some aliens from the area or that knew the area telling them the truth based on facts.

    Anything else is a lie and a silly joke.

    It's not science.

    8 million years age based on what? Some fantasy theory that are claimed to be official science and there is absolutely no real proof of being even partially or remotely real ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I pity you, fool

      Don't assume your own ignorance is general.

    2. Wzrd1

      Re: They keep spreading false info and fake science...

      Why, you are absolutely right. We have no way to see distant objects and observe them, can't measure them because Issac Newton didn't exist, Einstein didn't exist, therefore we no nothing of gravity, mass or energy.

      Indeed, stars aren't fusion powered, they're powered by pixie dust or something, because fusion doesn't exist, nor does fission. The latter was a great shock to the folks at Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

      It is science, just because you're too dull to understand it doesn't make it invalid.

  9. annodomini2

    Planetary formation theories...

    Why do they always seem to assume that the planet formed after the star?

    The star formed in a nebular of gas and dust, therefore material must be clumping together to form the stars in the first place.

    It's not like rock only exists once a star has formed!!

    Who's to say the planet formed either before or during the star's formation.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Grikath

      Re: Planetary formation theories...

      it's a bit complicated, but a planet is assumed to come into existence after the star has already formed, simply because a planet orbits its' star. You need the gravity well caused by the (proto) star to create a solar system.

      This doesn't mean some pretty big lumps of matter cannot accrete randomly, as indeed they do, and they do float ( well, until they too enter our suns'gravity well..) around in interstellar space. The vast majority of them, however, do not enter the gravity well in the plane of accretion, so their possible orbits ( if the speed is right, etc.) would be well out of that plane, and would not disturb an accretion disc overly much, especially since even the accretion disc around a proto-star is still mostly "empty vacuum".

      The thing with this star is that we're looking flat on at the accretion disc, and we're looking at something that has hoovered up a fair amount of stuff within it, so its' orbit must be within that disc with not too much exxentricity. Given the distance and the mass of the sun itself, it must also be a long orbit, so in 8 million years it cannot have made a huge number of orbits. Yet there is a clear ring there, so there's some efficient hoovering going on.

      Like Ghost, I'm more of a well-informed amateur than an expert, but my bet is that that object there did indeed arise from the accretion disc, so should be termed a "planet" in that sense. Although given the scale, and the seriously tiny size of the star it may well be that what is hoovering stuff up there is more a "failed sister star' in a double system than a true planet. Scale down ordinary star formation theory far enough into pigmy territory and you get some odd things. Could be that this is proof that some of these solutions actually happen in reality.

      1. Wzrd1

        Re: Planetary formation theories...

        Considering the size of the cleared zone and the distance from the star to that orbit, the object is most likely at a minimum, a frost giant, at maximum, a brown dwarf.

        Hmm, they should be able to get IR measurements of that object.

  10. Cipher


    ... does Randy Newman's politics have to do with this story? I mean other than some hack writer jumping on a chance to inject politics into it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF...

      OMG! You've discovered that The Reg has political opinions that it "injects" into news stories!

      Lewis Page! Andrew Orlowski! Richard Chirgwin! Rik Myslewski! Iain Thomson! (et al.)

      Alert the authorities! The Ministry of Truth must suppress all editorial opinion!

      (Nine exclamation points – just counting...)

  11. Martin Budden Bronze badge
    Thumb Up


    176 light-years away and we can tell the difference between grains of sand and pebbles! Wow, just wow!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Planet - or construction of a Dyson sphere?

    1. Wzrd1

      That would be one terribly cold sphere!

  13. Blitheringeejit

    A Dyson sphere ...

    ... would surely comprise a region of space completely cleared of all dust?

    And probably also equipped with an improbably-shaped blower-heater-hand-dryer...


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