back to article Aged star could give us clues to HOT TEEN's behaviour

A distant star could tell us exactly what our Sun was like as a teenager, as astronomers say that it could be like “looking back in time”. Rings of a distant star Kicking up dust The star, given the catchy name HD 107146, has whole a load of dust from Pluto-sized objects swarming around it. Scientists are studying the star …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    How big is a Large Millimetre?

    See title.

    I find it amazing that at 90 light years it is possible to detect a gap in the dust cloud within a stellar system,it was not that long ago we didn't even know of one single star that definitely had a planet.

    1. frank ly Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: How big is a Large Millimetre?

      It's the array that's large Their millimeters are standard size.

    2. HelpfulJohn

      Re: How big is a Large Millimetre?

      Errr ... I'll get my coat when I've done this but ... we have known of one star that has planets for quite a while, now.

      It's often called "Sol".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How big is a Large Millimetre?

      It's not a Large Millimetre, it's a Large Millimetre/ submillimetre --- which works out to a Large 1/ sub, if we can assume case insensitivity.

  2. Swarthy Silver badge

    Time to get started!

    By the time we have an interstellar ship and make the 90ly journey, it should be mature enough to host us; without too much risk of pesky pre-existing life there.

    1. HelpfulJohn

      Re: Time to get started!

      There is zero chance of humans or any other Terran life ever getting out of this planetary system. There is about the same odds of any human ever walking on any planetary or sub-planetary body inside this system other than Earth and the Moon and about the same probability of a thirteenth human ever walking on the lunar surface.

      The age of manned spaceflight is over and once humans have used the easily reached oil and coal there can never be a successor species with a high enough technology to do it in our place.

      Terrestrial life may thinly contaminate the Voyagers, Deep Horizon and the Pioneers but those are the only samples that will ever escape Sol's influence and those are not going anywhere specific, going anywhere useful or going anywhere fast.

      Life on Earth is doomed to stay there. And to be pasteurised when Sol goes all red and bloated. The idea of people from Earth, human or successor species, walking worlds under the light of another star is just never going to happen.

      Never.

      So the daughters of HD107146 are safe.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Time to get started!

        You're wrong.

        You need oil to go to space. You can do it using light and water. More resource intensive, sure...but the idea that there will never be a group of humans so fanatical about the idea of leaving the rest behind and setting out to spread their seed/ideology/religion/whatever is ridiculous. You clearly don't understand what human passion, insanity, fervor or curiosity are capable of.

        One good crusade and you'll get humans on other planets, even if just to escape the peckerheads that live here. Besides, Elon Musk will probably prove you wrong inside your own lifetime. Every time someone tells him it can't be done, the bugger goes ahead and does it anyways.

        1. HelpfulJohn
          Pint

          Re: Time to get started!

          "You [don't] need oil to go to space. You can do it using light and water."

          A technological society can't produce enough concentrated energy, power, to get offworld without fossilised sunlight, coal and oil, as start-up fuels. There is no way to jump from agrarian villages powered by animal muscles and wood-burning to nuclear power and lasers.

          Once the rock oil is burnt, including that from shale, and the coal all used up there is no recovery.

          Yes, *we* could jump into orbit using lasers and water-tanks but *we* have vast reserves of oil to power the lasers. It can't be done if your only energy supply is a horse nor if you are an evolved horse-derived beast and your energy supply is ape-muscles.

          "What about solar power?"

          Okay, but from what do you build the mirrors to concentrate the Sun's light? Again, it's easy for 21st Century humans because we've used 300 years of oil and coal burning to build up a colossal store of tools and techniques; it would not be so easy for Cephalopods just starting their societies some millions of years after us.

          They would find it even more difficult than we did to start up as we have not only mined and used the coals and oils we have also mined the silver (to pick but one resource) they would need.

          Building a civilisation like ours, a vast city-culture that spans a planet is relatively easy when energy is basically free and other resources are scattered within reach of a pick and shovel. When the only silver remaining that isn't in a toxic, radioactive dump is miles under the surface and minable only with 21st Century tech using it as a start-up material is problematic.

          Once the oil goes, the idea of getting offworld goes with it.

          There is no recovering for humans and there can never be a successor species to inherit the stars in our place.

          Considering that no politician on the planet is even dreaming of preventing the catastrophic collapse of our city-culture, and that not one of the military dictators, priests or lawyers that control our countries would understand the problem never mind be able to create or grasp a solution this is not a matter amenable to any fixing.

          When the oil starts to run out, wars will inevitably ensue. This will accelerate the collapse. The result will not look like a "Mad Max" movie set. It will be far, far more brutal.

          And final.

          So we may as well have another beer.

  3. C. P. Cosgrove

    " Watching what happens over time"

    This does imply a certain optimistic frame of mind on the part of the astronomers involved. Should they or their successors be around just how much change do they expect to see over the next, say, 100 million years ? Never mind 4.6 billion give or take.

    Chris Cosgrove

    1. D@v3

      ....Over time....

      It does make me chuckle when I read things like that. No doubt, it is interesting to find an example of what our solar system _may_ have been like 4.someodd billion years ago, but the idea that we will be watching it over time to see how it develops, what are they going to do, leave a note on the telescope saying "check back at these co-ordinates in 500,000 years, this is what it looked like in 2014 (pic.jpg)"

      considering A) how long the human race has been around, are we even likely to still be looking skyward in 500K years?

      and B) given the speed that things move on a cosmological time scale, even if we were able to check back in 5M years, would we really notice much change?

      I'm not saying we shouldn't bother, far from it, I'm just saying we should be realistic with our expectations

      1. Bunbury

        Re: ....Over time....

        With our current instruments we would need to wait a long time. However, since our ability to see such things has increased rapidly, and is likely to go on increasing, it is probable that we will be able to see much finer detail in reasonable timescales, and so gain knowledge much more quickly.

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