Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

US astronomers discover inter-planetary collision
by Staff Writers
Los Angeles (AFP) Sept 23, 2008

File image Extrasolar planets.

Two planets about 300 light years from Earth slammed into each other recently, US astronomers said Tuesday, the first time evidence of such a catastrophic collision has been seen by scientists.

Astronomers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the California Institute of Technology (CALTECH) said the crash involved two planets orbiting a star in the Aries constellation.

The collision was uncovered while astronomers were attempting to measure the star's age, and found an unusually large amount of dust orbiting the star.

"It's as if Earth and Venus collided with each other," said Benjamin Zuckerman, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy.

"Astronomers have never seen anything like this before. Apparently, major catastrophic collisions can take place in a fully mature planetary system."

The astronomers' research will be published in the December issue of Astrophysical Journal. The collision was an "ultimate extinction event" that would have wiped out any life on either planet in minutes, the report said.

The prospect of Earth suffering an apocalyptic collision with another planet or asteroid has been fodder for science-fiction writers and film-makers ever since Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer's 1933 novel "When Worlds Collide."

Astronomers said however the odds of such collisions occurring remained low.

Tennessee State University astronomer Gregory Henry said scientists in the United States and France have long studied the stability of planetary orbits.

"Their computer models predict planetary motions into the distant future and they find a small probability for collisions of Mercury with Earth or Venus sometime in the next billion years or more," Henry said.

Zuckerman noted, however, that collisions have occurred in our solar system's past. "Many astronomers believe our moon was formed from the grazing collision of two planetary embryos, the young Earth and a body about the size of Mars, a crash that created tremendous debris, some of which condensed to form the moon and some of which went into orbit around the young sun," he said.


Related Links
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

TNO Star Separators Help ESO With Detection Of Exoplanets
Delft, Netherlands (SPX) Sep 19, 2008
The PRIMA facility with TNO's Star Separators was successfully tested during a "first light" test at the beginning of September. PRIMA will set a new benchmark in astrometry and will enable exoplanet detection with high precision astrometric measurements as well as imaging of faint objects. The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has built the PRIMA (Phase-Referenced Imaging and ... read more

Diving For The Moon

Science By The Light Of The Moon

Chang'e-1 Sends Back Verbal Wishes

Russian Water Detector To Ride Piggyback On U.S. Lunar Orbiter

Spirit's Warming Up On Mars

Rock Moved By Phoenix Lander Arm

Growing Library Of Mars Spectrometer Images

Mars Polar Cap Mystery Solved

It Takes A Nation To Build A Rocket

Closing In On New Astronauts

Artemis Gives Emergency Support To Jules Verne ATV

US space tourist to follow father into orbit

Brimming with confidence, China's astronauts brace for historic mission

Shenzhou 7's Mystery Top

China's Shenzhou-7 Mission Passes Final Joint Check

A chronology of China's space programme

Russia's Space Agency Confirms 18th ISS Expedition

The US Has No Option But To Use Russia's Soyuz Craft

Resupply spacecraft docks with International Space Station

Hurricane Ike's impact felt at International Space Station: NASA

Sea Launch Successfully Delivers Galaxy 19 To Orbit

Sea Launch Countdown Underway For The Galaxy 19 Mission

ArianeSpace Buys 10 Soyuz Rockets For Kourou Spaceport

Telesat Launches Nimiq 4 Broadcast Satellite

US astronomers discover inter-planetary collision

NASA's Kepler Spacecraft Baked And Ready For More Tests

TNO Star Separators Help ESO With Detection Of Exoplanets

First Picture Of Likely Planet Around Sun-Like Star

Study Spotlights Anti-satellite And Space Debris Threats

LockMart Demos New Radiator Tech For TSAT Program

NASA Uses Commercial Microgravity Flight Services For First Time

Australian company launches 3D Internet tool

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement