Brainy Quote of the Day

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Genesis Planet...

Image Source: Daily Galaxy link below
Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Big Bang, Cosmology, White Dwarfs

I took the title from the Daily Galaxy's original post. It seemed apropos and succinct, but I am aware of the strong feelings it may generate.

Science strives mightily to fight "confirmation bias" : "the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories." The way scientists try to weed out minutiae is through peer review. Feelings are bruised, but truth is winnowed from social and preconceived chaff. Previous theories once held in high regard are thrown away. As new technology and instruments become available, this disciplined process is repeated. A scientific discovery may or may not confirm already preconceived notions. It's usually the latter. Such is not science, but the seeds of the boondoggle, pseudoscience and superstition; it is the natural tendency in an ever-changing world to reach for the comfortable instead of lighting "a candle in the dark" (Carl Sagan).

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet

"I would rather have questions I can't answer, than answers I can't question."
Richard Feynman

In 2015, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope precisely measured the mass of the oldest known planet in our Milky Way galaxy. At an estimated age of 13 billion years, the planet is more than twice as old as Earth's 4.5 billion years. It's about as old as a planet can be. It formed around a young, sun-like star barely 1 billion years after our universe's birth in the Big Bang. The ancient planet has had a remarkable history because it resides in an unlikely, rough neighborhood. A few intrepid astronomers have concluded that the most productive to look for planets that can support life is around dim, dying stars white dwarfs.

"In the quest for extraterrestrial biological signatures, the first stars we study should be white dwarfs," said Avi Loeb, theorist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and director of the Institute for Theory and Computation. Even dying stars could host planets with life - and if such life exists, we might be able to detect it within the next decade.

The ancient planet orbits a peculiar pair of burned-out stars in the crowded core of a cluster of more than 100,000 stars. The new Hubble findings close a decade of speculation and debate about the identity of this ancient world. Until Hubble's measurement, astronomers had debated the identity of this object. Was it a planet or a brown dwarf? Hubble's analysis shows that the object is 2.5 times the mass of Jupiter, confirming that it is a planet. Its very existence provides tantalizing evidence that the first planets formed rapidly, within a billion years of the Big Bang, leading astronomers to conclude that planets may be very abundant in our galaxy.

The Daily Galaxy:
Hubble Space Telescope Reveals "The Genesis Planet" --The Oldest Known Planet in the Milky Way (Today's Most Popular)

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