Dark Star News Archive 2009-10

 

Take That and the Dark Star

 

I've talked about Robbie Williams before, and his well-known interest in Ufology.  As you will know, he has re-joined pop band Take That and their new album is upon us.  The first single is called 'The Flood', and has a highly enigmatic lyric.  I can't reproduce the entire lyric, due to copyright reasons, but I think that the following line is particularly noteworthy for readers of this website:

"Here we come now on a dark star, seeing demons, not what we are."

The song's lyric is unusual, to say the least, and defies an easy explanation.  What does it mean?  A lone reference to the Dark Star might be innocent enough, but the inclusion  of 'demons' makes this quite interesting to me.  Sumerologists believe that the ancient Mesopotamians considered the Anunnaki to be demons.  Given that the Anunnaki are the denizens of the Dark Star system that I've written about extensively, then this might be a hidden reference to the Dark Star Theory in this popular song lyric.  Furthermore, the title of the song itself -- The Flood -- is potentially another reference to the Dark Star.  In Sitchin's discussion of the Flood, as described in early Mesopotamian myths, the Anunnaki play a pivotal role in events on Earth at that time, and Nibiru (the Dark Star) is the source of the catastrophic earth-changes that bring the Flood about.

Normally, I would just consider this to be a bizarre coincidence - except that in this case Robbie Williams might well be introducing esoteric ideas into this song.  Perhaps.  Robbie - if you're a reader of my website, then please do get in touch.  I'd love to hear from you.

Andy Lloyd, 31st December 2010

Reference:

http://www.directlyrics.com/take-that-the-flood-lyrics.html
 

 

New Human Species Identified

First we had Neanderthals in Europe and the Middle East, then the Hobbit (Homo Floresiensis) in Indonesia - now there's a new species of human to add to the growing pile. They lived in Asia and have been named the 'Denisovans':
 
"Scientists say an entirely separate type of human identified from bones in Siberia co-existed and interbred with our own species. The ancient humans have been dubbed Denisovans after the caves in Siberia where their remains were found. There is also evidence that this group was widespread in Eurasia.
 
A study in Nature journal shows that Denisovans co-existed with Neanderthals and interbred with our species - perhaps around 50,000 years ago. An international group of researchers sequenced a complete genome from one of the ancient hominins (human-like creatures), based on nuclear DNA extracted from a finger bone."

 
( Pallab Ghosh "Ancient humans, dubbed 'Denisovans', interbred with us" 22nd December 2010  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12059564)


I wonder what Zecharia Sitchin would have made of it? The pre-history of humanity is getting more complicated all the time.

 

 

Habitable World Prediction Comes True

My fictional work is a vehicle to put forward some new insights and ideas.  In "The Followers of Horus" I have outlined how a world orbiting a Dark Star could provide an habitable environment for life.  Scientists discuss 'The Goldilocks Zone' - the rough distance from a given star where liquid water on a planet's surface could support life.  The smaller the star, the nearer the planet must be to the star to be within this habitable zone.

The Sun is technically a 'yellow dwarf', and lies on at the high end of the dwarf star spectrum. The next down is a red dwarf, and a planet in its Goldilocks Zone has a much smaller orbit than Earth.  Brown dwarfs have closer zones still, and sub-brown dwarfs, like the Dark Star I describe, have very close Goldilocks Zones - almost like moons. 

The closer planets get to their parent stars, the more likely they will be 'tidally locked', like our Moon is to the Earth.  This means that the planet rotates on its axis over the same time period as it rotates around the dwarf star.  This is known as 'synchronous rotation'.  The result of this is that one side of the planet will face the dwarf star at all times.

That's why I predicted in "The Followers of Horus" that a habitable planet circling the Dark Star would be tidally locked.  Funny, then, that an exciting new discovery in the extensive Gliese 581 planetary system should involve a habitable world with synchronous rotation!

Gliese 581g bears the same hallmark as my fictional account of the Anunnaki homeworld of Nibiru, as I've described in "The Followers of Horus". For further details, including an extract from the book, follow this link:

Habitable Planet Orbiting Dwarf Star:  As described in "The Followers of Horus"

 

Solar Storms and 2012

In a brand new article, I discuss the threat of immense solar flares, like the one that occurred in 1859, and how the Dark Star's presence in the solar system may have created a Grand Solar Cycle that could produce 'the big one'.  The effects upon our modern world would be truly catastrophic:

Solar Storms and 2012

 

The British Museum and Nin Puabi

A curator at the British Museum has replied to a query about the remains of Nin Puabi, which were brought to the attention of the late Zecharia Sitchin's readers this year.  She says that there are only fragments of the queen's skull remaining, and that they are not actually located at the British Museum.  You can read the full correspondence here:

'There Were Giants Upon the Earth'

 

The Astrophysics of an Incoming Brown Dwarf

With two years to go before the end of the Mayan Age, speculation about the arrival of a Planet X body remains high, despite the lack of a sighting by either professional or amateur astronomers.  Two years may seem a lot, but in an astronomical sense it is a minute period of time.  Certainly, a substantial planet in an elliptical orbit would have to be moving towards us at an extraordinary speed to cover the distance from a remote point, where it has successfully evaded detection, to the inner solar system in that time.

Indeed, the velocities required would mean that an incoming Planet X object would be travelling so fast so as to achieve escape velocity from the solar system.  Don't believe me?  Well, an astrophysicist has been doing some calculations for an incoming stellar-sized object.  Bear in mind that he assumes a massive brown dwarf at 80 Jupiter masses, rather than a Jupiter-like sub-brown dwarf of, say, 5 Jupiter masses.  But, even so, his calculations for its incoming speed is eye-watering to say the least.

"We analytically and numerically investigate the possibility that a still undiscovered body X, moving along an unbound hyperbolic path from outside the solar system, may penetrate its inner regions in the next few years posing a threat to the Earth. By conservatively using as initial position the lower bounds on the present-day distance dX of X dynamically inferred from the gravitational perturbations induced by it on the orbital motions of the planets of the solar system, both the analyses show that, in order to reach the Earth's orbit in the next 2 yr, X should move at a highly unrealistic speed v, whatever its mass MX is."

An incoming brown dwarf star would need to be achieving speeds up to 10% of the speed of light.  It's my opinion, and has been all along, that there is no incoming Planet X object.  It remains a possibility (and I argue a strong possibility) that a sub-brown dwarf lurks well beyond the Kuiper Belt, and nearer the distant comet clouds circling the Sun.  But it offers no direct threat to our planet.  This latest paper provides further hard evidence to be sceptical about a 2012/2013 Planet X 'event'.

Reference:

Lorenzo Iorio "Is it plausible to expect a close encounter of the Earth with a yet undiscovered astronomical object in the next few years?"  Submitted 7/9/10, http://arxiv.org/abs/1009.1374  with thanks to Mattia

 

Ezekiel One now on Kindle

Ezekiel One is now available for the Kindle e-book system, for £7.28 GBP.  It will also become available through Amazon.com shortly, for $9.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puzzling Microsoft Worldwide Telescope Anomaly

A Dark Star-related puzzle: I've been sent a short video clip by a correspondent named David Gittins.  He has discovered an unusual anomaly on the Microsoft Worldwide Telescope program. It appears to show a glowing red planet - a possible sub-brown dwarf, or something else entirely? Apologies for the quality of the video, but it does serve to provide the salient data and a good look at the anomaly.
 
Some people comment that it might be a supernova, which it may well be, but it's strange then that it hasn't been labelled. It may be an anomalous artifact left over from when the images was taken. I find it puzzling. There's already a healthy debate going on on YouTube.  Any further suggestions welcome:


 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bagwwr4P8AA

 

I've already been sent some interesting links of similar looking celestial phenomena by Mattia:
 
http://www.iaa.csic.es/xpn/pn_formation.html
 
http://www.astronet.ru/db/varstars/msg/1161870
 
http://www.astronomycast.com/astronomy/episode-19-comets-our-icy-friends-from-the-outer-solar-system/

The object is in Gemini, at R.A 06h 08m, Dec. +22˚47'.  Compare with the coordinates for the open star cluster M35 at R.A 06h 09m Dec.+24˚20'.  They're certainly close, but the star cluster is not a red object like the one seen on the Microsoft Worldwide Telescope program.

http://seds.org/messier/m/m035.html

Here are IRAS infra-red images of the location described in the video.  The first is a wide view of the area, and the second if a close-up of the left-hand part of the image.  You can click on them to go the NASA pages for further data:

 

Further research by Mattia through the astronomy databases has brought up the following image taken in the vicinity of this anomaly, but not at the exact coordinates.  He found it at sky-map.org and it originally comes from the U.S. Naval Observatory (catalogue reference USNO-A2.0=1125-03465140).  It does not appear on inspection of DSS (visual) and IRAS infra-red images.  

The coordinates of the object are Ra 06h 08' 53.162" Dec. +22 46 50.77 (Right ascension (FK5) Equinox=J2000. (computed by VizieR, not part of the original data)).  The magnitudes of the object are Magnitude (blue)=16.1 Magnitude (red)=14.9.

Here are some technical notes about the U.S. Naval Observatory images:

(Note: USNO-A2.0 contains 526,280,881 sources, and is based on a re-reduction of the Precision Measuring Machine (PMM) scans from POSS-I O and E plates (>=-18°) and SRC-J and ESO-R plates (<=-20°). USNO-A2.0 was created by Dave Monet (dgm(at)nofs.navy.mil) and collaborators at Flagstaff Station, U.S. Naval Observatory.

The major difference between USNO-A2.0 and its previous version USNO-A1.0 is that A1.0 used the Guide Star Catalog as its reference frame whereas A2.0 uses the ICRF as realized by the USNO ACT catalog (Urban et al. 1997). The VizieR search engine uses an on-line compressed version (3.6Gbytes) which was generated at CDS.)
 

So, getting beyond the technical material, let's consider the possibilities.  An anomalous object has been spotted on the Microsoft Worldwide Telescope image database.  However, it is not seen on other astronomical databases commonly available.  Close to this anomaly, Mattia has found a similar looking object, also not described in the literature, on the U.S. Naval Observatory database.  If it is the same, then it has moved between the times that each image was taken.

The fact that it has moved is quite interesting in itself.  It implies that it is a solar system object, rather than a deep space object.  Mattia has done a quick back-of-an-envelope calculation and thinks that, if they're the same object, it would be located beyond the Kuiper Belt.  Stay tuned...

 

Andy Lloyd, 6th August 2010

 

More Dark Star Theory Confirmed!

Those were the words of my editor Lee Covino when he recently came across the following item of astronomy news.  Like many of my helpful readers, he kindly sent this through to me.  It's news of a brown dwarf star found orbiting a relatively nearby Sun-like star.  The system, PZ Tel A (& now B), is quite young.  Remarkably, the brown dwarf companion follows an eccentric orbit, and is currently located at an equivalent distance to the planet Uranus from the Sun (1). 

"Lead author and UA graduate Beth Biller said, "PZ Tel B travels on a particularly eccentric orbit -- in the last 10 years, we have literally watched it careen through its inner solar system. This can best be explained by a highly eccentric, or oval-shaped, orbit."" (2)

This shows that much of what I have written in the past about the feasibility of unusual brown dwarf binaries has been confirmed.  Brown dwarfs with eccentric orbits can, like comets, move close to the parent stars during perihelion.  This opens up the possibility that a Dark Star in our own system could have done the same.  Such a concept no longer seems far-fetched at all.

Astronomers are interested to learn whether other planets have been able to form in this system.  On the face of it, the brown dwarf would seem to make that job very difficult.  But, as many of my long-time readers would note with a wry smile, such early scientific proclamations about brown dwarfs have been proven wrong before!  Stay tuned...

References:  

1) "Brown dwarf orbiting sun-like star discovered"‏ 30th July 2010 http://www.discoveryon.info/2010/07/brown-dwarf-orbiting-sun-like-star.html with thanks to Lee, Brian, Monika and Jeffrey

2) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100729172336.htm

 

 

A Planet with a Tail

Image credit G. Bacon, NASA/ESA

The discovery of a planet shedding its atmosphere like a comet is not a particular surprise for astronomers.  Ever since the so-called 'Hot Jupiters' were found - gas giants orbiting their stars in just a few days - such an effect has been acknowledged as highly likely.  Now it's been confirmed with the planet HD 209458b.

Although this is not a 'Dark Star' scenario, the comet-planet is one of the essentially ingredients of the Nibiru hypothesis:  A planet with a comet-like orbit periodically enters the solar system, shedding volatile gases to the solar wind and creating a dramatic, red tail.  Nibiru never gets this close to the Sun, and Nibiru needs a tenable atmosphere even in the frigid vacuum of the outer solar system, so direct comparisons cannot be made. But this image supplied of a gas giant shedding its volatile atmosphere lends itself beautifully to a Dark Star perihelion passage.

Reference:

"Planet found with a comet-like tail" http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/07/100715-alien-planet-comet-like-tail-hot-space-science 15th July 2010 with thanks to John

 

Nemesis and Extinction Cycles

A new scientific paper looking at the possible existence of Nemesis has come to an unusual conclusion - the extinction event periodicity of 27 million years is likely true, but that the set of intervals between events is too precise to be due to a Dark Star.  It is argued that the effect of passing stars etc. would affect the Dark Star's orbit over time, leading to a more chaotic series of intervals between extinction events on Earth over the last half a billion years (1).

"The cyclical extinctions do make a solid pattern, say Adrian Melott of the University of Kansas and Richard Bambach of Smithsonian Institution Museum of Natural History, whose paper is available through arXiv.org (2). The two have gone back in the record to 500 million years ago, further than any other researchers, and have confirmed the 27 million year cycle at a 99 percent confidence.

"The problem, Nemesis fans, is that the cycle is too precise, the researchers say. If these extinctions result from a dance between our sun and Nemesis, the researchers note, the period of these mass extinctions would change as other stars buffeted the pair and changed the courses of Nemesis’s orbit around the sun. But the data indicates that the extinctions occur every 27 million years, as regular as clockwork.

"Some scientists say that the sharply-defined periodicity isn’t enough to rule out Nemesis. Richard Muller, an author of the original Nemesis paper, told Wired.com that there is still hope for a dark star." (1)

Which begs the question - if an extinction pattern has been proven, and works like clockwork over millions of years, then what else could be the cause?  The solution must have an astronomical dimension, surely?  It seems to me that this paper merely enhances the chances that a Dark Star is lurking out there.

Andy Lloyd, 14/7/10

1)  http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2010/07/13/study-a-death-star-named-nemisis-isnt-to-blame-for-mass-extinctions/ with thanks to David

2) Melott A. & Bambach R. "Nemesis Reconsidered" 2nd July 2010  http://arxiv.org/abs/1007.0437

 

Cassini Data Points to Planet X/Nemesis

The Open Astronomy Journal has published what may be a very promising new paper by an  Italian astronomer named Lorenzo Iorio. In his paper, he sets out data sent back to Earth from the Cassini probe that seems to imply the presence of a massive, undiscovered companion to the Sun.  The latest data from Cassini, measuring Saturn's orbit around the Sun, indicates that there is a precession effect in the gas giant's orbit.  It is thought that this recognised effect might be attributable to the existence of a substantial Planet X body, whose location and size are open to debate (i.e. the larger the companion object, the further it is away from the Sun).

In the paper's abstract, various distances are proposed.  For a rocky, terrestrial Planet X, the object would be located well beyond the Kuiper Belt.  For a gas giant/ small brown dwarf the distances involved increase to the inner edge of the Oort Cloud of comets.  This range sits well with my proposed Dark Star parameters. 

Even more striking is the contention that this body might lie in the direction of the Galactic Core, which, once again, reflects my own proposals in my books:

"If X was directed towards a specific direction, i.e. that of the Galactic Center, it would mimick the action of a recently proposed form of the External Field Effect (EFE) in the framework of the MOdified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND)". (1)

This is an exciting development, and perhaps indicates how these ideas are gaining ground within the academic astronomical community.

 

Written by Andy Lloyd, 1st July 2010

 

Reference:

Lorenzo Iorio "The Perihelion Precession of Saturn, Planet X/Nemesis and MOND"   http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2010OAJ.....3....1I 

The Open Astronomy Journal, vol. 3, pp. 1-6. 2010, with thanks to Mattia

  

A New Name for Nemesis?

Image Credit: AMNH/UCB/NASA/JPL-Caltech

As WISE continues its search for dim celestial objects in the infra-red spectrum, astronomers have turned their thoughts to what they might call a brown dwarf orbiting the Sun.  For decades the moniker attached to such a body has been Nemesis.  However, that name brings with it connotations of destruction and extinction-level events.  As such, a new name has been proposed: 

"[Davy] Kirkpatrick says that it's possible that WISE could find an icy, Neptune-sized or bigger object in the far reaches of our solar system - thousands of times farther from the sun than Earth. There is some speculation amongst scientists that such a cool body, if it exists, could be a brown dwarf companion to our sun. This hypothetical object has been nicknamed "Nemesis." 

"We are now calling the hypothetical brown dwarf Tyche instead, after the benevolent counterpart to Nemesis," said Kirkpatrick. "Although there is only limited evidence to suggest a large body in a wide, stable orbit around the sun, WISE should be able to find it, or rule it out altogether"." (1)

I like the name Tyche - it suggests a small companion, much as a brown dwarf would be.

Based upon the limited number of brown dwarf discoveries made so far, astrophysicists are now estimating that there may well be about 100 brown dwarfs within 25 light years yet to be discovered.  It has been a long-standing belief that there is a 50:50 chance that one or more brown dwarfs may lie within 4 light years of us - making such objects potentially our nearest stellar neighbours.

1)  "The Coolest Stars Come Out Of The Dark" 25th June 2010 http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/The_Coolest_Stars_Come_Out_Of_The_Dark_999.html With thanks to Ann and Peter, and David

 

Planets in Different Planes

(Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI))
 

One of the potential stumbling blocks to the Dark Star Theory, and the concept of a Planet X body in general, has been something called the Kozai effect.  Orbiting bodies inclined to a system plane exchange their inclination for greater eccentricity over time.  This has been confirmed in practice for satellites, moons, etc.  This places restrictions on orbits within a system, and has been used by sceptics as an argument against a Planet X body inclined at, say, 30 degrees (as claimed by Sitchin for the hypothetical planet Nibiru). 

More broadly, planets within a system that are inclined at high angles to each other are considered to be much less stable than a system where all the planets revolve around their parent star within the same plane.  From a common sense point of view, this seems to be a truism.  Furthermore, our current models of planet formation involve proto-planetary disks, which are vast and relatively flat clouds of gas revolving around young stars which eventually condense down into planets.  Again, we are left with the flat system where planets revolve within a plane.

So, it is something of a surprise (and, for me, a big relief!) that a team of astronomers led by Barbara McArthur of the University of Texas, have discovered a extra-solar planetary system that is not remotely flat.  The planets appear to orbit at inclinations of 30 degrees to each other in the star system Upsilon Andromedae A, which is located about 44 light years away.  It is part of a binary star system, and the planets in question are Jupiter-sized.  The star system has been around for a while, and one would have thought that these inclined orbits would have been subject to the Kozai effect over time.  Apparently not.

That's not to say that the effect is not useful in our understanding of orbital systems.  But, as with nature in general, complexity and diversity have a way of surprising us.  Inclined planetary systems clearly exist in practice.  Therefore, a Planet X body (even Jupiter-sized!) sharply inclined to the Sun's planetary plane could indeed prove to be stable over a long period of time. 

Andy Lloyd, 25th May 2010

Reference:  "Off-kilter planetary system surprises astronomers", 24th May 2010, http://www.world-science.net/othernews/100524_planet.htm with thanks to David

The Followers of Horus

I'm delighted to inform my readers that my new novel, entitled "The Followers of Horus", has been published and is now available through Amazon (see link below).  This book is the sequel to '"Ezekiel One", and I know that I left readers of the first book hanging badly for the last 12 months or so!  So, you can now find out what happens next, and be one of the very first people to read about my newest ideas about the planet Nibiru:

The Followers of Horus: The second Dark Star novel

 

2010 "Dark Star" Crop Circle

This enigmatic crop circle was found this month in a field of oil seed rape near Old Sarum, which is near Salisbury in south England.  There is clear Dark Star symbolism in this pictogram - it depicts a dual solar system with two suns: the Sun, and the Dark Star with its own seven moons/planets.  More information about the crop circle is available from the Daily Mail website:

Reference:  Jessica Satherley "Summer starts today and, bang on cue, the first crop circle of 2010 pops up" 7th May 2010 www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1274365/First-crop-circle-2010-spotted-Wiltshire.html with thanks to Jeffrey

 

Does Planet X exist?  Andy argues the case with an astronomer on university radio

A couple of months ago I was part of a short debate, on the subject of Planet X, on Liverpool University Hope Radio.  The show was hosted by Kenny Fillingham and there was a studio guest from the Liverpool Astronomy Society, who was generally sceptical about the subject.  Some very interesting material was covered in the fifteen minutes, and the entire debate is now available to listen to on YouTube:

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/user/kennyjohn1988uk#p/a/u/0/Uxkp0b1losY

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/user/kennyjohn1988uk#p/a/u/1/Mw43GCCDeZU

 

Does the water ice discovered on an asteroid belong to Tiamat?

Here's something for Sitchin fans.  Water ice, as well as organic material, has been discovered coating the surface of an asteroid located between Mars and Jupiter.  This is particularly relevant to Sitchinites because of the possibility that the asteroid belt constitutes the remains of the watery, primordial world 'Tiamat', that was broken up by one of the early passages of Nibiru.  The Earth was the largest of the remaining fragments, knocked into a new orbit closer to the Sun, the ancient Mesopotamian myths suggest. 

Does the water ice on 24 Themis correlate isotopically with water on Earth (see my 2005 book, 'The Dark Star')?  Perhaps we'll find out soon enough, if NASA pays the asteroid belt a visit.  Here's a short extract, as well as the reference to today's news:

"The discovery of abundant ice on 24 Themis may mean that water is much more common in the Main Belt of asteroids than previously thought. Since Themis is part of an asteroid "family" that was formed from a large impact and the subsequent fragmentation of a larger body long ago, this scenario means the parent body also had ice and has deep implications for how our solar system formed."

Reference:

Nancy Atkinson "Possible Destination? Researchers Find Water Ice and Organics on Asteroid" 28/4/10 http://www.universetoday.com/2010/04/28/possible-destination-researchers-find-water-ice-and-organics-on-asteroid/

 

New paper by Drs Matese and Whitmire

Dr John Matese and Daniel Whitmire, of LaFayette University in Louisiana, first put forward evidence for a multiple Jupiter mass companion in 1999.  Based on statistical analysis of the direction of arrival of of long-distance comets, they believe that a massive unseen companion lies among the outer Oort cloud of comets.  It has a hand in comet activity, creating an uneven inward flow from the outer solar system.  They have been continuing their research ever since, and have just submitted the following new paper, further building on their case for a 'Dark Star'.  They even go so far as to describe the proposed orbit, which is retrograde.  Here's their published abstract:

We present an updated dynamical and statistical analysis of outer Oort cloud cometary evidence suggesting the sun has a wide-binary Jovian mass companion. The results support a conjecture that there exists a companion of mass ~ 1-4 M_Jup orbiting in the innermost region of the outer Oort cloud. Our most restrictive prediction is that the orientation angles of the orbit normal in galactic coordinates are centered on the galactic longitude of the ascending node Omega = 319 degree and the galactic inclination i = 103 degree (or the opposite direction) with an uncertainty in the normal direction subtending ~ 2% of the sky. A Bayesian statistical analysis suggests that the probability of the companion hypothesis is comparable to or greater than the probability of the null hypothesis of a statistical fluke. Such a companion could also have produced the detached Kuiper Belt object Sedna. The putative companion could be easily detected by the recently launched Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE).

John J. Matese, Daniel P. Whitmire "Persistent Evidence of a Jovian Mass Solar Companion in the Oort Cloud", 26/4/10  http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/1004.4584v1 with thanks to John M

 

Closing in on Neighbouring Dark Stars

A very cool discovery has been made by astronomers at University of Hertfordshire in England.  The coolest brown dwarf yet has been found about 10 light years away.  This Dark Star might be a tiny brown dwarf, or possibly even smaller - a sub-brown dwarf, similar in size to the proposed Planet X object I write about.  Called UGPS 0722-05, its surface temperature is between 130 - 230 centigrade. 

"A dim object less than 10 light years from Earth appears to be the closest brown dwarf yet found. The "star" is so cold that any residents on an orbiting planet would see a dark sun in their starry "daytime" sky.  The discovery suggests that brown dwarfs are common and that the objects could exist even closer to Earth." (1)

Tantalisingly, I describe such a dramatic sky in my new book 'The Followers of Horus', which is due for release soon.   Remarkably, this new neighbouring 'star' was found in an infra-red search covering just a few percent of the total sky.  The implication of this is clear - there may be a great many of these objects out there, floating around in the dark among the Sun's near neighbours.

"The object's feeble nature explains why it has only now been spotted, despite its proximity. It was found after surveying only a few per cent of the sky, which implies that many more brown dwarfs are lurking nearby undetected." (1)

Just twenty years ago, many astronomers would have dismissed the prospect of discovering failed stars like these.  These kinds of objects did not sit well with the prevalent theories of star and planet formation.  But here we are, finding sub-brown dwarfs in our celestial backyard.  As common as muck.

Andy Lloyd 19th April 2010

References:

1) Ken Crosswell, "'Dark sun' is one of our nearest neighbours", 9/4/10, http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18757-dark-sun-is-one-of-our-nearest-neighbours.html  with thanks to David, Ivan and John

2) arxiv.org/abs/1004.0317

 

Wide Binary Brown Dwarfs Reveal Their Secrets

Dark Star-like objects are starting to be discovered, in parts of the Milky Way thick with brown dwarfs.  One of these newly discovered companion objects, of between 5 - 10 Jupiter masses, lies in orbit around a brown dwarf at an equivalent distance to our Sun's gas giants.  Given that the parent star is only a brown dwarf star itself, this is a considerable distance - well beyond the parent's initial proto-planetary disk.  The companion sub-brown dwarf has also formed in less than one million years - a staggeringly short period of time.  The implications of this are huge, at least for the theory on this website.  It means that these large companion objects can form at a very wide distance from their parents, using unexpected planet-forming mechanisms. 

"Their investigations of the nature of this mysterious object and its companion brown dwarf have revealed a new mechanism that Nature can use to make orbiting planetary-mass objects. "Our research demonstrates that nature can make planetary-mass bodies through the same mechanism that builds stars -- and that the mystery object has both planet-like and star-like characteristics," said [Kevin] Luhman [of Penn State University].

""The most interesting implication of this result is that it shows that the process that makes binary stars extends all the way down to planetary masses -- so it appears that nature is able to make planetary-mass companions through two very different mechanisms.""

I've often discussed the likelihood that a Dark Star in our own solar system would have formed as part of a cluster in the very early days of the Sun's own birth.  In such a scenario, we simply don't need to consider how a part of the Sun's protoplanetary disk needs to extend out to comet distances to accrete enough matter for a gas giant/sub-brown dwarf to form.  A speckled cluster of adjacent star-forming material could create a wide-binary sub-brown dwarf at a great distance.  Possibly more than one!  This latest discovery adds weight to this concept, and opens up the potential for the discovery of a Dark Star object orbiting our own sun.

Andy Lloyd, 7th April 2010

References:

Ray Villard & Barbara Kennedy "Mysterious Planet-like Object Challenges Simple Definition, Reveals Its Surprising Identity", 6th April 2010, http://www.science.psu.edu/news-and-events/2010-news/Luhman4-2010, with thanks to Monika and David

 

Comets, and the End of the Ice Age

The dates of the return of Nibiru have been a controversial point for decades.  I have always favoured the model originally put forward by Zecharia Sitchin - that the visit by Anu in 3760 BCE was one definitive marker (it kick-started ancient calendars in the Levant region).  Another very likely marker was the catastrophe that brought about the collapse of the last glacial period, thought to be about 13,000 years ago.  This may have been the Biblical Flood, a story that is featured in a huge number of the world's comparative mythologies, and may have come down to historical writings through oral transmission across millennia.

Ice ages come and go, and the previous Ice Epoch lasting for some 4 million years was punctuated by interglacial periods.  We may, or may not, be in such a period now.  It's difficult to determine whether that marker around 11,000BCE was really the end of an Ice Epoch, or just the beginning of the current warm period attributable to various planetary and astronomical cycles.

An eminent astronomer, Professor Bill Napier, thinks that there was a multiple comet strike on Earth at that time, which brought about a catastrophic period of cooling:

"The cooling, by as much as 8°C, interrupted the warming which was occurring at the end of the last ice age and caused glaciers to readvance. Evidence has been found that this catastrophic change was associated with some extraordinary extraterrestrial event. The boundary is marked by the occurrence of a "black mat" layer a few centimetres thick found at many sites throughout the United States containing high levels of soot indicative of continental-scale wildfires, as well as microscopic hexagonal diamonds (nanodiamonds) which are produced by shocks and are only found in meteorites or impact craters. These findings led to the suggestion that the catastrophic changes of that time were caused by the impact of an asteroid or comet 4 km across on the Laurentide ice sheet, which at that time covered what would become Canada and the northern part of the United States.  The cooling lasted over a thousand years, and its onset coincides with the rapid extinction of 35 genera of North American mammals, as well as the disruption of the Palaeoindian culture."

He argues that a large comet, which had entered the planetary zone of the solar system some 20-30,000 years ago, has been breaking up ever since, and has left a debris field of rocky fragments in its wake.  In this model, the debris field crossed the path of the Earth's trajectory, and the North American continent was hit by a deadly shower.  There are no craters to mark the event because the comets struck the glacial sheet which covered much of the continent at that time.

Could such a debris field be attributable to a more transient event - like the movement of Nibiru through the planetary solar system?  It seems likely to me that any sizeable Planet X body would come with its own retinue.  Given that I believe a sub-brown dwarf lurks out there, moving along an elongated, elliptical trajectory, then there is scope for a whole planetary system to accompany it!  A swarm of comets seems a reasonable proposition as the Sun's planetary system plays host to the Dark Star's at perihelion.  Such an event would not occur during each transit - it would simply depend upon the positioning of the Earth in the solar system, and how that relates to the belts of Dark Star comets as they move through.

Dates?  Well, if we take Sitchin's 3600 year orbit at face value and work backwards from 3760BCE, then we get 7360BCE and then 10,960BCE.  The rough date of Napier's catastrophe is cited as 10,890BCE.   There are a number of possible scenarios for the Dark Star's orbit, but this date in particular is a very good candidate for a previous return.

Andy Lloyd, 6th April 2010

Reference: Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) (2010, April 1)  http://arxiv.org/abs/1003.0744. Was a giant comet responsible for a North American catastrophe in 11,000 BC?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 6, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2010/04/100401101527.htm  with thanks to John K

 

Dark Star discovery within 3 years?

It seems that we will have to wait until 2012-13 before we can get an answer to the question of whether a multiple-Jupiter-mass planet lurks out there unseen.  WISE, the powerful new infra-red survey, is hard at work hunting down brown dwarfs, and any Dark Star remaining to be discovered in the solar system should get spotted by this device.  But it won't be until 2012 or 2013 before we know for sure.  That's longer than I thought it would take, but makes sense given the fact that such an object would be very slow moving among the field of stars, and needs to be pinpointed by its relative motion in the sky, as well as by its bright infra-red signature. 

"“The great thing about WISE, as was also true of 2MASS, is that it's an all-sky survey,” said Kirkpatrick. “There will be some regions such as the Galactic Plane where the observations are less sensitive or fields more crowded, but we'll search those areas too. So we're not preferentially targeting certain directions.”
 

Our local neighbourhood brown dwarf population is expected to show up in the WISE data


"We may not have an answer to the Nemesis question until mid-2013. WISE needs to scan the sky twice in order to generate the time-lapsed images astronomers use to detect objects in the outer solar system. The change in location of an object between the time of the first scan and the second tells astronomers about the object’s location and orbit.  “I don't suspect we'll have completed the search for candidate objects until mid-2012, and then we may need up to a year of time to complete telescopic follow-up of those objects,” said Kirkpatrick."

For many reasons, I suspect that the Dark Star lies near to the galactic plane, in the constellation of Sagittarius.  This is one of the most difficult constellations to pinpoint solar system objects among the intense fields of background stars.  It would generally be avoided by astronomers hunting for, say, Kuiper Belt objects.  It sounds like the WISE team plan to take that constellation on, just like the rest.  But it won't be easy!
 

References:

1)Leslie Mullen "Getting WISE about Nemesis" 11th March 2010, http://www.astrobio.net/exclusive/3427/getting-wise-about-nemesis with thanks to David

2) This led to the following article in 'The Sun', which has a UK circulation of 7 million: Paul Sutherland "Earth under Attack from Death Star" 12th March 2010 http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2889372/Earth-under-attack-from-Death-Star.html#ixzz0i0dnpAm3 thanks to Mart

3) And this then propagated around the Globe, in the great spirit of churnalism: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/Earth-under-attack-from-an-invisible-star/articleshow/5676202.cms thanks to Rob (beware the pop-up adds on this one)

4) and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/7429335/Search-on-for-Death-Star-that-throws-out-deadly-comets.html thanks to Johan

 

Cometary composition infers a Dark Star companion

One of my editors, Lee, has been keeping an eye on the comet composition controversy.  Some of the scant data that has been made available indicates that the origin of outer solar system comets involves a birthplace much hotter than current theory allows.  The geological composition requires temperatures in the thousands of degrees  - and this is not possible in the outer solar system, even during primordial times when there was a proto-planetary disk. We think that this is due to the existence of an as-yet unconfirmed binary companion in the shape of a sub-brown dwarf.

Anyway, Lee sent me an on-line excerpt from the book 'The Electric Universe', copyright © 2002, 2007 Wallace Thornhill and David Talbott and published by Mikamar Publishing, which is no doubt already familiar material for many readers.  The relevant excerpt is entitled 'Comet Material Born in Fire', which can be found about half-way down the page in the Page 98 information panel.  It makes for some enlightening reading with respect to the possible existence of a Dark Star out there:

http://www.thunderbolts.info/thunderblogs/archives/special_edition/100201_se_teu3.htm#p98info

 

 Cool Brown Dwarf is both red and blue!

Perhaps the coolest brown dwarf yet!  At about 200 degrees Celsius, the new T-dwarf SDSS 1416+13B is the binary companion of a larger brown dwarf star.

"An international team, led by British astronomers using the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) in Hawaii, has discovered what may be the coolest sub-stellar body ever found outside our own solar system.  This object is technically known as a brown dwarf, but what has excited astronomers is its very peculiar colors, which actually make it appear either very blue or very red, depending on which part of the spectrum is used to look at it."

It's only detectable in infra-red light, and astronomers have been studying it using different infra-red telescopes.  What's odd is that depending upon which set of wavelengths are used to view it (Using either UKIRT or Spitzer), the quixotic object is either surprisingly red, or surprisingly blue.

"The fact that it is a binary companion to a warmer brown dwarf that also has an unusual spectrum is helping us to fill in some some gaps in our understanding", says Dr. Ben Burningham of the University of Hertfordshire. "It seems likely that both brown dwarfs are somewhat poor in heavy elements. This would be consistent with the pair being old, which in turn implies a high gravity for both dwarfs, which can further enhance the unusual colors seen for both dwarfs."

Old, cool brown dwarfs are in my Dark Star territory, so this object could teach us a lot about a potential Nemesis object orbiting our own sun at a great distance.  Already, it's proving puzzling!
 

Reference:  University of Hawaii Press Release "Astronomers Discover Cool Stars in Nearby Space"  29th January 2010 http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=30109  with thanks to David

 

Scientists Fret about Contact

This week a two-day conference is being held at the Royal Society in London, titled, 'The detection of extraterrestrial life and the consequences for science and society.' Professor Simon Conway Morris, a Cambridge University evolutionary biologist, will be talking at the Royal Society on 'Predicting what extraterrestrial life will be like – and preparing for the worst."

I heard about this conference on BBC radio this morning.  Here's the Today programme's piece about it. You'll need to move through to 1hr:24min into it (about halfway through the 3 hour programme):
 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00q2nhg/Today_25_01_2010/
 
It's absolutely true that the debate about ET life in the scientific community has changed in the last decade.  Not only the discovery of so many planets (and their frequency of discovery around target stars) but also the propensity for life to be found in the most unlikely places on Earth (extremeophiles). Clearly, life can find a way given the right conditions - and the right conditions seem common throughout our corner of the galaxy, at least.
 
Will the aliens be friendly?  Well, we certainly aren't, and nature is a cut-throat place.  There's every reason to suspect that nature works in the same way on other planets, given the tenets of evolution through natural selection.  If trying to second guess alien visitors we should ask ourselves what we would do if we discovered a planet nearby full of rich resources, and ripe for the taking.
 
Such considerations are at the heart of my fictional writing.  My new novel, "The Followers of Horus", explores the nature of the Anunnaki, and how their particular style of management, as it were, would impact upon an unsuspecting modern humanity.  I, for one, don't imagine them to be fun to be around.  It stands to reason that a species more advanced than us, and more evolved than us, would have developed a greater social complexity than us, and so be all the more damned difficult to deal with.

"Scientists searching for alien life should get governments and the UN involved lest we unwittingly contact hostile extraterrestrials, a British astronomer has warned.  Mr Marek Kukula, public astronomer at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, said "We might like to assume that if there is intelligent life out there it is wise and benevolent, but of course we have no evidence for this. Given the consequences of contact may not be what we initially hoped for, then we need governments and the UN to get involved in any discussions"." (1)

It seems that the likelihood of finding, and being found by, alien life is increasing rapidly.  Upon making contact, we would have to get our collective heads around these concerns pretty fast.


 
Reference:  "Aliens might not be friendly, warns astronomers" 24th Jan 2010 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/7066554/Aliens-might-not-be-friendly-warns-astronomer.html with thanks to Jadran

 

How near, how big?

It's been several years since astronomers discovered a number of Kuiper Belt Objects with inexplicably bizarre orbits (particularly Sedna and 2000 CR105).  In my 2005 book 'The Dark Star' I discussed how these anomalies provide evidence for a companion object located within 2000 Astronomical Units (where one A.U. is the distance from the Sun to the Earth).  At the time, the idea was also being seriously considered by serious scientists.  They performed calculations to work out what size a companion object would need to be to create the Kuiper Belt anomalies, and at what distance (1).  Their calculations indicated that a companion object was not only capable of creating these anomalous orbits, but was theoretically a better fit than the action of a passing star in the distant past.  Here's a section of the conclusion Gomes et al wrote in their scientific paper:

"We have demonstrated that a distant planetary-mass solar companion (i.e., a planet orbiting within the inner Oort cloud) would be capable of raising the perihelia of scattered disk objects and placing them on orbits similar to those of Sedna and 2000 CR105. The perihelia of the SDO's are raised by the Kozai mechanism, so the orbit of such a hypothetical companion would in principle need to be substantially inclined to that of the orbit of the scattered disk object that was produced by perturbations of the known planets in order for the type of perturbations that we are discussing to operate efficiently.

"Note, however, that a very eccentric Earth-mass companion with small perihelion (60 AU in the example that we studied) and low inclination could also produce low inclination Sedna-like orbits. The required minimum companion mass would be only about Neptune's mass if it orbited with semi-minor axis at 2000 AU, but would need to be a Jupiter mass at 5000 AU and 8 Jupiter masses at 10,000 AU.

"A significant advantage of the solar companion model is that it naturally produces the very massive inner Oort cloud that is suggested by observations to date. A brown dwarf's planetesimals captured by the Sun can amount to a large mass, but the inclination distribution could favor any arbitrary initial plane (including retrograde)."
(2, my emphasis)

Personally, I favour a sub-brown dwarf object located in the gap between the Kuiper Belt (which extends from Neptune out to about 50AU) and the Inner Oort Cloud (from about 2000AU outwards).  The scientists indicate that an object at these sort of distance would need to be about as massive as Neptune, as a minimum.  That still allows for an eccentric sub-brown dwarf within these parameters.  Such an object would have 'swept out' the area of space between the Belt and the Cloud.

Interestingly, NASA recently put forward the idea that this same 'space' is currently occupied by part of an interstellar gas cloud, which they have given the unusual moniker 'Fluff' (3).  This proposition is a response to the finding by the Voyager probes that the Heliopause (the sheath-like border between the solar wind and interstellar space ~75AU away) is misshapen.  It goes without saying (but I will say it anyway) that a companion object that has created the Kuiper Belt Object anomalies is also quite capable of manifesting a huge magnetic field, and of denting the Heliopause.

Written by Andy Lloyd, 7th January 2010

References:

1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/90377_Sedna, with thanks to David S

2) Rodney S. Gomes, John J. Matese, Jack J. Lissauer !A Distant Planetary-Mass Solar Companion May Have Produced Distant Detached Objects", Icarus 2006, http://web.archive.org/web/20070108051810/http://staff.on.br/rodneyg/companion/solar_companion.pdf

3) Tony Phillips, NASA "Voyager makes and Interstellar Discovery" 23/12/09 http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2009/23dec_voyager.htm  with thanks to Lee and Ivan

 

 

Spanish Researchers claim Dark Star discovery

I

A group of Spanish scientists have released details of a brown dwarf companion theory that is eerily reminiscent of the Dark Star theory.  I think these guys wrote to me a while ago, but I had trouble verifying who they were. They might be putting forward original research that simply corroborates much of what I've claimed, or they might be relying quite heavily on my prior work.  It's hard to say for sure.  They identify the sub-BD (of almost 2 Jupiter masses) as being in Sagittarius, which I agree with.  But at "60AU" this object is simply way too close.  That's only twice the distance of Neptune! 

They make the additional claim that the sub-BD, which they name G1.9, is a celestial object erroneously previously identified as a recent supernova.  Their claim is evaluated on the website viewzone.com: 

"G1.9 was first identified as a "supernova remnant" in 1984 by Dave Green of the University of Cambridge and later studied in greater detail with NRAO's Very Large Array radio telescope in 1985. Because it was unusually small for a supernova it was thought to be young -- less than about 1000 years old.  But in 2007, X-ray observations made with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed that the object was much larger than the last time it was observed! It had grown in size by 16%.

"Puzzled by this observation, the Very Large Array repeated its observations of 23 years ago and verified that it had increased in size considerably. Knowing that supernova do not expand this quickly, unless they have just exploded, they explained that G1.9 must be a "very young" supernova -- perhaps not more than 150 years old. But no record of a visible supernova has been found corresponding to that historical period (about the time of the American Civil War).

"Spanish astronomers have tracked this object with great interest because they were anticipating its appearance. Gravitational anomalies have been appearing in the Oort Cloud for some time, suggesting the perturbations were caused by a nearby object with considerable mass. The announcement that G1.9 had increased in size was no mystery to them. It is exactly what they would expect as the object moved closer to Earth." (1)

The article debunks their claim that the supernova is actually a brown dwarf star.  I also think at that distance we'd have a much better and clearer image of a spherical brown dwarf object.  Saying that, the possibility that a brown dwarf companion might be a misidentified catalogued object is a good one.  It might not be this particular object, but that's not to say that it might not be another one in the same vicinity.  It would be nice to know who the members of this Spanish 'scientific research team' are.  Perhaps cracks are appearing in the standard scientific consensus that a brown dwarf companion object is an impossibility.

Reference:

1) Gary Vey,  "Spanish Astronomers Claim Dwarf Sun Beyond Pluto" http://www.viewzone.com/browndwarf.html

 

Astronomers image distant Dark Star

It may be 50 light years away, but astronomers have succeeded in directly imaging a brown dwarf companion orbiting the sun-like star named GJ 758 (1).  At least, that's what they think it is.  The planet lies at 29 AU  from its parent star (about the same distance as Neptune from the Sun), and is only 600F - which is a very low temperature for a brown dwarf (2).  It may be as low as 10 Jupiter masses, which would bring it into the category of sub-brown dwarf.  Its distance is proving to be a headache for astronomers:

"The fact that such a large planet-like object might be orbiting at this location defies traditional thinking on how planets form, McElwain said. Astronomers think most large planets form either closer to or farther away from stars, but not in the location where GJ 758 B is now.

"This challenging but beautiful detection of a very low mass companion to a sun-like star reminds us again how little we truly know about the census of gas giant planets and brown dwarfs around nearby stars," said Alan Boss, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., who was not involved in the research. "Observations like this will enable theorists to begin to make sense of how this hitherto unseen population of bodies was able to form and evolve."" (1)

Sun, Earth, Jupiter and a Dark Star

 

But things may not be quite as they seem:

"Telescope images also revealed a second companion to the star, which the scientists have called GJ 758 C. More observations, however, are needed to confirm whether it is nearby or just looks that way.  'It looks very promising,' said Christian Thalmann, one of the team's lead scientists. If it should turn out to be a second companion, he said, that would make both of them more likely to be young planets rather than old brown dwarfs, since two brown dwarfs in such close proximity would not remain stable for such a long period of time." (2)

If confirmed, GJ 758 B and C might well bang a further hole in current brown dwarf theory!  Jacco van der Worp makes the excellent point that the problematic 'Kozai effect' would be an early casualty of such a finding (3).  Let's say that GJ 758 B and C are both confirmed as companions of the parent star 50 light years away from us.  Two brown dwarfs existing within 30AU would raise major issues about how such a system could have remained stable over any length of time.  This system does not appear to be very young, so it seems unlikely that the proposed brown dwarf B is in fact a much younger, smaller light-emitting planet.  This appears to be the 'get-out' clause if GJ 758 C was found to be a companion BD too. 

If GJ 758 B and C are both BDs, then the Kozai effect is in trouble.  The implication is that a BD could well move through the solar system regularly without causing chaos (which was Hills' judgement back in the mid-eighties, when the Nemesis concept was explored using supercomputer models).  That would open up the Planet X debate considerably!  I'm not saying that Planet X is here right now, but it would mean that it could have moved through the solar system in the historical past, as a visible object, without dismantling the orbits of the other planetary objects.

If a sub-brown dwarf is orbiting around our own Sun (which I believe is the case, based upon the anomalous evidence of the outer solar system), then it is a wide binary object that probably currently lies between the Kuiper Belt and the inner Oort Cloud.  Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are also interested in the question of whether a brown dwarf might exist at the edges of the solar system.  A plethora of new telescopes and probes look set to vastly expand our knowledge of the far-flung reaches of the solar system in the years to come, starting with the launch of the infra-red telescope WISE (4).

 

Written by Andy Lloyd, 7th - 11th December 2009

References

1) Space.com staff "First Photo Taken of Object Around Sun-Like Star, Scientists Say", 3rd Dec. 2009, http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20091203/sc_space/firstphototakenofobjectaroundsunlikestarscientistssay  with thanks to Lloyd and Mike

2) Claire Bates "Pictured: First direct image of planet orbiting a star similar to our Sun‏", 4th Dec. 2009 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1233263/Exo-planet-photographed-orbiting-star-similar-Sun-time.html#ixzz0YlV0mXLG with thanks to Mart

3) Correspondence from Jacco van der Worp, 7th Dec 2009

4) Alan Boyle "Hunt for new worlds goes into overdrive" 10th Dec. 2009 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34288724/ns/technology_and_science-space with thanks to Lee

 

Strange meteorites from unknown asteroid/dwarf planet

Here's a new mystery to consider. Two meteorites, known as GRA 06128 and GRA 06129, were discovered in the Graves-Nunataks region of Antarctica in 2006 (1).  They are unlike any other meteorites.  They date almost back as far as the birth of the solar system, some 4.5 billion years ago.  Scientists are puzzled by them because they appear to have come from a sizeable object that is large enough to retain its own heat and so undergo internal melting.  This process, common to planets and moons, causes a differentiation of the rocks and chemical composition of the body.  The mysterious body is likely to be at least 200 km in diameter, which rules out the vast majority of asteroids.

Here are some of the puzzling aspects of the case:  "Although initial oxygen isotopic compositions are consistent with an origin in the Earth-Moon system, numerous observations appear to eliminate both bodies,"  says Chip Shearer of the University of New Mexico (2).  So the meteorites originate from beyond the Earth-Moon system.  Additionally, the high sodium content of the meteorites implies that the body they originated from was rich in water (3).  Yet, it they are inconsistent with Martian meteorites.  Venus seems an impossible fit.

So, the problem is - which body in the solar system did the meteorites come from, and how did they get here?  Our knowledge of the composition of many planets and asteroids in the solar system is incomplete, and the data we have from our current collection of meteorites is limited:

"The contemporary flux of meteorites is biased and unrepresentative of Solar System materials; this is because of the complex sequence of events required to bring a meteorite from its parent body to Earth. These biases include, but are not limited to, longevity of the parent body in the asteroid belt, location of asteroids near dynamically favourable delivery zones/resonances, impact-excavation and preservation of the meteorite from its parent body and low-velocity collision with Earth." (4)

It may be that the originating body is one of the larger asteroids, but how did the asteroid manage to undergo these internal changes so quickly?  The solar system had barely had time to form before these fragments were separated from their parent body.  It has been suggested that the differentiation of the body was only partial - and that this would allow scientists to square the circle of the remarkable age of these meteorites against the timeframe needed for the parent body to properly differentiate (5). 

A more radical suggestion has been put forward by Lunar and Planetary Institute researcher Allain Treiman.  He thinks it probable that the source was a destroyed dwarf planet (6).  Under this hypothesis, fragments of the destroyed world remain in the asteroid belt, awaiting spectroscopic analysis for verification.  We know that the early solar system was a violent place.  We may be closer to understanding some of the detail of that early turmoil.

 

Written by Andy Lloyd, with research by Lee Covino, 7th December 2009

References:

1) Paul Rincon, "Antarctica's unique space rocks" 13th March 2008 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7294181.stm

2) Anne Minard, "Mysterious Meteorites Stymie Scientists" 12th March 2008 http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/080312-meteorites.html

3) Lester Haines, "Antarctic meteorite points to smashed dwarf planet" 13th March 2008 http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/03/13/lost_world/

4)  J.M.D. Day, et al "Making Crust In The Asteroid Belt: Evidence From GRA 06128/9 And Brachinites" 40th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (2009), http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2009/pdf/2012.pdf

5) PhysOrg.com, "Half-baked asteroids have Earth-like crust" 7th January, 2009 http://www.physorg.com/news150557683.html

6) Luke McKinney "Antarctica Yields Fossils of a Destroyed Dwarf", Planet 2nd Dec. 2009, http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2009/12/antarctica-yields-fossils-from-a-destroyed-dwarf-planet.html

 

WISE to Hunt for Dark Star says JPL

The new Infra-red sky survey telescope is scheduled for launch in mid December (1).  It's called WISE, and it is a modern and more powerful version of IRAS.  It has the capability of locating numerous brown dwarfs hidden in the constellations.  I've been saying for a long time that WISE is by far the best hope of finding the Dark Star - a sub-brown dwarf object orbiting the Sun at a great distance.  Now, as WISE launches, a spokesman from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has confirmed that looking for a distant Dark Star is actually part of the project's remit:

"Excitingly, [WISE] may also find a theoretical ninth planet in our own solar system (since Pluto is no longer counted as a planet, there are currently only eight). The patterns of comet orbits around our sun suggests that there may be a huge gas giant planet, about 25,000 times as far from the Sun as the Earth is, as yet undetected.
 
"The Wise telescope could spot a Jupiter-sized planet as far as 60,000 Earth-to-Sun-distances (called astronomical units, or A.U.s) from the Sun, according to one of the scientists behind it, Peter Eisenhardt of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and it will be actively looking for the distant giant." (2)

The idea of a Dark Star was first put forward by Richard Muller et al when they proposed a distant object that they named 'Nemesis' (3).  Lying at the very periphery of the solar system, among the distant comets in the outer Oort cloud, Nemesis was thought to be responsible for an observed extinction cycle in the fossil record.  A decade ago, I proposed that this object was located closer than the astronomers thought - between the Kuiper Belt and the inner Oort Cloud.  Because I don't believe that this object is responsible for an extinction cycle, I prefer to give it the title 'Dark Star'.  My hypothesis is that such an object is capable of providing a habitable environment on a moon/planet in its own planetary system, and thus life, which may be complex - even intelligent (4).  This more positive idea is not in keeping with the moniker 'Nemesis'.  I also believe that this object plays a part in ancient mythology.  Its proximity and irregular orbit may mean that it is occasionally seen from Earth during rare perihelion events.

Will WISE discovery this Dark Star?  If so, will it be found in the outer Oort Cloud as suggested by Muller? Or will it be found much closer, sweeping out the empty area beyond the Kuiper Gap, as I have suggested?  If WISE does its job, we will find out in the next couple of years.  We are living in exciting times!

References:

1)  http://wise.ssl.berkeley.edu/index.html, with thanks to Craig

2)  Tom Chivers "Nasa's Wise telescope to find brown dwarf neighbours and distant planets" 27th November 2009 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/6672068/Nasas-Wise-telescope-to-find-brown-dwarf-neighbours-and-distant-planets.html with thanks to David

3) Richard Muller "Nemesis: The Death Star" Weidenfeld & Nicholson 1988

4) Andy Lloyd 'The Dark Star: The Planet X Evidence' Timeless Voyager Press 2005

 

Water on Mars

A crater in the equatorial region of Mars has been found to contain exposed surface ice. That ice appears to be part of an extensive ice sheet which extends well beyond the polar regions of Mars.  The crater was caused by a recent meteor, and the exposed ice was eventually covered again by Martian surface dust.

So, it's now established that vast sections of Mars are ice sheets covered in regolith dust. The ice below the surface is exposed by meteorite impacts, then quickly covered again by the prevailing dust storms on the red planet.  I wonder whether the extent of the ice below the surface might be even greater still. Perhaps Mars is more like one of the Gallilean moons of Jupiter. Perhaps not as obviously ocean-friendly as Europa, but more like Callisto and Ganymede?  In those cases frozen sub-surface ice is gently warmed by the proximity to Jupiter (the same scenario for a warmed habitable world orbiting a Dark Star).  Mars does not have such a massive companion to warm the sub-surface ice into an ocean.  But...it is large enough to have volcanic activity, as the considerable calderas on Mars indicate. 
 
Surface features on Mars tend to bat down the idea of active recent vulcanism, because there are large swathes of ancient craters which should have been filled in long ago under that scenario.  But it certainly seems to be reasonable to paint a picture of subsurface ice sheets covering Martian oceans warmed by underground geothermal activity.  Meteorite impacts crunching through the surface ice and releasing underground water might explain some of the Martian anomalies of dried riverbeds.  If the meteorite that uncovered the ice in this case had been bigger, we might have witnessed just such an effect!

It seems increasingly likely that oceans covered much the of the low-lying surface of the Northern hemisphere of Mars: 

"Computerised analysis of satellite data shows that some regions of Mars had valley networks almost as dense as those on Earth. 'It is now difficult to argue against run-off erosion as the major mechanism of Martian valley networks,' said research leader Professor Wei Luo, from Northern Illinois University. The belt pattern of the valley network could best be explained if there was a large northern ocean, said the scientists writing in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Planets." (3)

That water had to end up somewhere.  Could it be that Mars more closely resembles one of the Galilean moons, with very significant quantities of deep sub-surface water ice?

 

References:

1)  Claire Bates "Now they find water on Mars: Meteorites uncover ice which could point to life" The Daily Mail, 25th September 2009, with thanks to Mart

2)  Andrea Thompson, "Water Ice Exposed in Mars Craters" 24th Sept. 2009, http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/090924-mars-crater-ice.html with thanks to David

3) The Daily Mail "The Red Planet was once blue... Giant ocean once covered third of Mars"  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1230278/Mars-Great-northern-ocean-covered-Red-Planet.html#ixzz0XiLQ6OdJ 23rd November 2009

 

Water Anomalies on the Moon - the implications

NASA's data about Moon rock composition over the last 40 years has been very consistent.  The non-polar regions of the Moon are dry, desiccated, dead.  Until yesterday.  NASA announced that data from the Indian Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbitor indicates that there is a relative abundance of lunar water - even in areas exposed to the Sun's rays.  At 750 parts per million, a ton of lunar rock would yield about a litre of water (1).  Helpful for future missions.

But, how on earth did NASA get this so wrong for the last 40 years? The Apollo astronauts brought back piles of Moon rocks, many of which were analysed for water.  Traces were found at the time, but NASA claimed that "most of the boxes containing the lunar samples leaked which led scientists to assume traces of water found came from Earth air that had entered the containers".  750ppm is not a trace. And how about the boxes which did not leak?  What of the water composition in them?

Then there are the NASA probes in the late 1990s,which deliberately set out to discover water on the Moon.  They found frozen water in deep polar craters.  But Clementine, and particularly Prospector, were set up with spectrometers capable of detecting water across the surface.  How did they miss it?  They certainly shouldn't have!  Here's the Mission guidelines for Prospector's spectrometers:

"Lunar Prospector (LP), which was launched on January 6, 1998, carries an integrated suite of three spectrometers. A Gamma-Ray Spectrometer (GRS) and a Neutron Spectrometer (NS) are providing global maps of the major and trace elemental composition of the lunar surface, with special emphasis on the search for polar water-ice deposits, implied by the H abundance...Global mapping of elemental abundances by the LP GRS and NS will impose major new constraints on the bulk composition of the lunar crust, on compositional variations over the lunar surface, and on the existence of lunar resources including polar water ice" (2)  [my emphasis]

The map opposite shows Prospector data from 1998 (3), which has still not been properly peer-reviewed over ten years on, according to the PDS website (4).  The equatorial map indicates that a fairly detailed, surface wide analysis was undertaken.  So - it begs the question:  Why is the Indian data (and also Deep Impact data, we learn) so radically different?  How is it that 40 years of scientific opinion about Moon soil and rock composition has been so fundamentally overturned?  Did God just pee on the Moon?  Or is there something fundamentally wrong with the data that NASA has been making public for the last 40 years?  The BBC news report about the discovery heard that NASA scientists were 'very sceptical' about the Indian finding at first, simply because it so comprehensively overturned their previously held beliefs about water on the Moon (5).

It beggars belief that two American probes sent to comprehensively survey the Moon just a decade ago could have come up with the wrong data - wrong data that is consistent with a scientific belief about the composition of Moon rock dating back to the 1960s.  Are we to believe that in the last decade the Indians have made a quantum leap forward in technology above and beyond NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense (which controlled Clementine)? I don't think so.

Notwithstanding that puzzling aspect of this story, there are other implications for the discovery.  Water is common throughout the solar system, it appears.  According to theories of planetary formation in the early solar system, inner worlds tend to have their water veneers driven off by the strong solar wind of the young vibrant Sun.  This is why Mercury and Venus are dry, and also why the Moon is supposed to be a desiccated shell.  Yet, now it is clear that the Moon is not that dry at all.  If the Moon was formed by an early collision between the early Earth and a Mars-sized planet, as is currently accepted, then why does the Moon have this water? It should have been driven off long ago.  NASA argues that this water 'comes and goes' with the long lunar day - and therefore is part of a continuing chemical process activated by the Sun's rays.

We return to the great water conundrum that features prominently in my book 'The Dark Star' (6).  Isotopic studies of solar system water are essential to understand the point of origin of any given water bearing object, as the ratio changes with distance from the Sun, roughly. This is complicated by collisions with comets which bring water from the outer solar system. The Earth is a puzzle in this regard, and I have suggested that this puzzle is best solved by the recognition that Earth began at a more distant orbital point, and then migrated in to its current position, perhaps due to a collision.  That the Moon still holds quantities of water in its surface soil and rocks strengthens that point.

The LCROSS Mystery

An essential next step is to establish whether the isotopic ratio for that Moon-water is more like a planetary object beyond Mars than one at Earth's current location.  The answer to that question would surely have been solved by the planned impacts of two parts of the LCROSS spacecraft into the lunar surface.  NASA expected a plume of dust and rock to result from the 5,600 mph collision, but there was no obvious sign of any plume from either collision (7).  However, closer scientific analysis eventually provided exciting news about ice on the Moon:

NASA confirms a "significant amount" of frozen water

Ice in large quantities on the Moon has been confirmed by NASA as a result of the LCROSS mission:

"A 'significant amount' of frozen water has been found on the moon, the U.S. space agency NASA said Friday, boosting hopes of eventually setting up a permanent lunar base. Preliminary data from a moon probe "indicates the mission successfully uncovered water in a permanently shadowed lunar crater," NASA said.  "The discovery opens a new chapter in our understanding of the moon," it added in a statement. The data was found after NASA sent two spacecraft crashing into the lunar surface last month in a dramatic experiment to probe for water. One rocket slammed into the Cabeus crater, near the moon's southern pole, at around 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) per hour. It was followed four minutes later by a spacecraft equipped with cameras to record the impact." (8)

Robert Massey of the Royal Astronomical Society speculated that the 'frozen water' was brought to the surface of the Moon by comet impacts. (9) The large debris plume rose at least one or two kilometres in altitude. It stayed just below the crater rim, which may have prevented astronomers from observing it from Earth. (10) Lee Covino, one of my editors, has a keen interest in data about water sources in the solar system. He and I agree that the returning data from comets and asteroid exploration in recent years has consistently pointed to anomalies which can be explained by planetary migration and catastrophism in the early solar system, involving a Planet X entity.  He points out that the NASA press release about the LCROSS findings hint at the prevalence of other volatile materials in the Cabeus crater.  Here are the excerpts themselves:

  • "In addition, water, and other compounds represent potential resources that could sustain future lunar exploration."

  • "The concentration and distribution of water and other substances requires further analysis, but it is safe to say Cabeus holds water."

  • "The LCROSS science team along with colleagues are poring over the data to understand the entire impact event, from flash to crater, with the final goal being the understanding of the distribution of materials, and in particular volatiles, within the soil at the impact site."

  • "Along with the water in Cabeus, there are hints of other intriguing substances." (11)

If water was deposited by comets, then there might also be present on the surface of the Moon organic material from the same source.  Given that the water ice is held within the lunar soil, then it seems reasonable to suppose that comet-sources organic material and volatiles might also be prevalent within the lunar soils.  Such a discovery would be even more profound than the confirmation of frozen water. The building blocks of life could be present within lunar soil, brought to the Moon over billions of years by comets.

All of which begs the question - why was this not realised when the lunar rocks, returned to Earth by Apollo, were analysed decades ago?  It's perhaps forgivable to mistake water in the lunar soil samples for contamination.  Would missing the presence of organic compounds on the Moon be an omission too far?

 

Written by Andy Lloyd, 25/9/09, and 13/11/09, author of 'The Dark Star' and 'Ezekiel One'

References:

1) Claire Bates  "'Widespread water' found on the Moon, opening the way for man to live there full-time" Daily Mail, 24/9/09

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1215721/Water-moon--Indias-lunar-mission-detects-it.html#ixzz0S1TxnrKX

2) Lunar Prospector Data Maps  http://lunar.arc.nasa.gov/dataviz/datamaps/index.html

3) The Los Alamos Built Spectrometers http://lunar.lanl.gov/pages/spectros.html

4) Lunar Prospector Reduced Spectrometer Data  http://pds-geosciences.wustl.edu/missions/lunarp/reduced.html

5) BBC Radio 4 News, 10pm 24/9/09

6)  Andy Lloyd, 'The Dark Star -The Planet X Evidence', Timeless Voyager Press 2005, see also http://www.darkstar1.co.uk/water.html

7) Ian Sample "Moon Crash Landing Fails to Raise Dust" The Guardian, 10/10/09, p5

8) "NASA finds frozen water on the moon" 13/11/09 http://www2.canada.com/nanaimodailynews/news/story.html?id=2219767

9)  'P.M.', BBC Radio 4, 13/11/09

10) 'Large Amounts of Water on Moon' BBC News, 13/11/09, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8359744.stm, includes a video clip of the LCROSS impact

11)  Jonas Dino, 'LCROSS' http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LCROSS/main/prelim_water_results.html with thanks to Lee

 

 

And there it is!

The Dark Star's IBEX Footprint


 

Telescopes pick out secret spy satellite

Lloyd Pye sent me an article describing how a secret satellite deployment was tracked by amateur astronomy sleuths.  He noted how close this was to the storyline in Ezekiel One.  Indeed!

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/atlas/av018/

 

New Infra-red telescope planned for South Pole by 2012

 Coldest and driest place on Earth will make best observatory for peering into space


with thanks to Mart

 

Is this Nibiru?

The image is authentic, but what is it of? And where did this information come from?  Visit my new webpages for details:

Is this Nibiru?  Candidate object from IRAS database

¿Es esto Nibiru? Un objecto candidato de la base de datos del IRAS

 

 

The Asteroid Belt's Twin Origin



Planet X researcher Shad Bolling recently sent me a piece about the complex origin of the asteroid belt.  Apparently, scientists are trying to figure out why asteroids from the outer asteroid belt vary significantly in composition from those in the inner asteroid belt.  Water ices, and heated processes demark the two types of asteroid studied by planetary scientists.  Writing in the journal 'Nature', Harold Levison of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, advocates the 'Nice Model' to explain how these, and other anomalies came about.  The summary from Space.com makes for fascinating reading:

The Nice model is "a model for the dynamical evolution for the orbits of the giant planets that we believe was a very violent event that happened roughly 700 million years after the solar system formed," when the solar system was in "its teenage years," Levison explained.  Models haven't been able to reproduce the formation of Uranus and Neptune in their current orbits, so Levison and other astronomers think that they formed much closer to Jupiter and Saturn, so that all the gas giants initially sat within 15 AU of the sun. (One AU, or astronomical unit, is the mean distance between Earth and the sun, about 93 million miles. Jupiter currently has a mean distance of 5.2 AU from the sun.)

We think [the gas giant planets] formed in a much more compact configuration than what we currently see," Levison said.   A protoplanetary disk of planetesimals stretched from just beyond that 15 AU boundary to about 30 AU, the thinking goes.  While this configuration was initially stable, objects leaking out from the disk caused slow changes in the orbits of the gas giants.

According to the model, about 700 million years after the solar system formed, these changes resulted in Jupiter and Saturn hitting a resonance with each other that caused the orbits of Uranus and Neptune to destabilize. The latter two planets gravitationally scattered off each other towards Jupiter and Saturn, which pushed back, sending their smaller siblings out to their current orbits.  Like a bowling ball hitting a set of pins, Uranus and Neptune plowed into the outer protoplanetary disk, whose objects "got scattered all over the solar system". (1)

This model might help to explain the late, great bombardment, and the bizarre distribution of Kuiper Belt Objects. The Nice model is gaining acceptance in the astronomical community, with its talk of migrating gas giants, even though it sounds like an unlikely game of planetary billiards.

The anomalies that the Nice model sets out to explain also offer rich pickings for Planet X advocates.  The catastrophic element to this period of solar system evolution is self-explanatory.  Add to that the dual nature of the asteroid belt, and one can piece together events that involve the catastrophic interloping of a usurper planet.  One wonders whether any of the academic researchers who crunch the numbers in their super-computers have also created models from this scenario as well?  Given the anomalous evidence for an as yet undiscovered massive planet beyond Neptune, it should surely be a good bet!

Reference:

(1) Andrea Thompson "Migrating Planets May Have Kicked Asteroids Into Orbit" 15th July 2009, http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/090715-asteroid-belt-diversity.html  With thanks to Shad Bolling

 

Dark Matter Dark Stars



On occasion people write to me advocating the possibility that a brown dwarf binary companion might be be constructed by 'electric fields' or plasma.  I generally reply that the Dark Star theory does not require a new theory of physics to work.  A sub brown dwarf built of regular elements would do nicely.  However, there is one intriguing possibility from new physics that might also fit.  Could a Dark Star binary companion be made up of 'dark matter'?  Dark matter is still largely theoretical, but its presence is required to explain the missing mass of the universe.  Given the quantity of mass missing, is seems likely that it clumps into Dark Stars.  It would also make sense that there are a huge number of low mass stars rather than extremely massive Dark Matter Stars which might be bending light, and creating other more noticeable effects.  So such a notion would fit with a multitude of missing low mass companions located at the peripheries of stellar systems.

 Here's a piece from 2007 sent to me by my astronomer friend Mattia which puts just such a possibility across:

"Before stars were fueled by nuclear fusion, they may have been fueled by dark matter. Researchers have theorized that "Dark Stars" may have been supported by the huge release of energy from dark matter annihilation (i.e. the release of energy that comes when matter and antimatter encounter each other) in the early universe. The physicists from UC Santa Cruz, UM Ann Arbor, and the University of Utah believe that despite many theories stating otherwise, dark matter did have an effect on the first stars in the universe.

"The release of energy from dark matter/anti-dark matter annihilation may have prevented the first proto-stars from collapsing and beginning fusion, but in turn could have heated a star¿s core enough to support it. This would change the time scale of the formation of second generation stars, the appearance of elements like nitrogen, carbon, and oxygen in our universe, and other aspects of stellar evolution.

"Products of the annihilation, such as neutrinos, gamma-rays, or antimatter may make these dark stars or their remnants detectable. Although stars composed of dark matter are likely to be much dimmer than normal stars, they may produce some light. The next step for researchers will be to determine how much visible light the dark stars give off, and how long they survive. Dark stars may have died out millions of years ago, or they may still exist today.

"The idea of dark stars relies on the Lightest Super symmetric Particle (LSP), a highly favored candidate for particles that make up dark matter. The properties of the LSPs are consistent with current information about dark matter in the universe. Many physicists are hopeful that new experiments in particle colliders will soon yield more discoveries on the nature of dark matter, and perhaps offer insight into the possibility of dark stars in the early universe."

Reference: "Dark Matter Stars" Douglas Spolyar, Katherine Freese, and Paolo Gondolo Physical Review Letters, 30th November 2007 http://www.innovations-report.de/html/berichte/physik_astronomie/bericht-99247.html with thanks to Mattia

 

Scientific American catches Dark Star Fever

 

Scientific American are leading with this brown dwarf planetary systems article, and accompanying image on the front of their June 2009 magazine which looks an awful lot like the cover of 'Dark Star'!  It's not just the cover either - 'Scientific American' speculates about the possibility of habitable planets existing around brown dwarfs, and mentions the potential for such objects to lie hidden between us and the nearest star.  Which is exactly what I've been advocating for some years.

"Unlikely Suns Reveal Improbable Planets - Astronomers are finding planets where there were not supposed to be any."

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=improbable-planets  With thanks to David

 

The Late, Great Bombardment

Many of my readers will be familiar with my description of the late, great bombardment.  After the formation of the solar system, there was a volatile period involving planets crashing about, and at some point very early in the system's history Earth took a hit from a Mars-sized body. This incredible impact eventually led to the formation of the Moon.  Things quietened down considerably, until a point when the Sun was over 600 million years old.   Then a new series of high impact events caused mayhem in the inner solar system.  This event, some 3.9 billion years ago, was the Late, Great Bombardment.  What created these catastrophes?  Astronomers don't know.  I have proposed that this is the point when the 'Celestial Battle' took place - the advent and close approach of the Dark Star binary companion and its system of planets.

Whether my explanation is correct or not, the catastrophe was certainly real enough.  Scientists working on this mysterious period of cataclysm have now found that life might have survived the multiple asteroid impacts, which would help with the modelling of the emergence of life on this planet.  The extent of the damage to Earth is also consistent with the damage sustained by 'Tiamat' as described by Sitchin:

Geologic evidence suggests that life on Earth was present at least 3.83 billion years ago, said Mojzsis. “So it is not unreasonable to suggest there was life on Earth before 3.9 billion years ago. We know from the geochemical record that our planet was eminently habitable by that time, and this new study sews up a major problem in origins of life studies by sweeping away the necessity for multiple origins of life on Earth.” 

Most scientists believe a rogue plan et as large as Mars smacked Earth with a glancing blow 4.5 billion years ago, vaporizing it self and part of Earth. The collision would have created an immense vapor cloud from which moonlets, and later our moon, coalesced, Mojzsis said. “That event, which preceded the Late Heavy Bombardment by at least 500 million years, would have effectively hit Earth’s re-set button,” he said. 

“But our results strongly suggest that no events since the moon formation were capable of destroying Earth’s crust and wiping out any biosphere that was present,” Mojzsis said. “In stead of chopping down the tree of life, our view is that the bombardment pruned it.”

 

Reference:  "Early cells might have thrived amid asteroid pummeling" 20th May 2009, http://www.world-science.net/othernews/090520_asteroid

 

Brown Dwarf Discoveries

There has been a rash of discoveries about small failed stars this week.  Some very young (and therefore still hot) sub-brown dwarfs have been found (1).  Their mass is in the region of what I expect for our binary Dark Star, although their youth makes them an awful lot more active as they have not yet used up their fuel.  They are not bound to parent stars, but have formed within stellar nurseries alongside more traditional suns.  Another recent discovery is of a binary object which is very cool by failed star standards.  At just 300 degrees Celsius, Wolf 940B is clearly an old brown dwarf, weighing in at between 20 and 30 Jupiter masses (2). 

The size and warmth of these discovered objects is dropping as detection methods improve.  But they remain difficult to find, and old objects of the order of ten Jupiter masses remain beyond current limits.  But it is only a matter of time.  Crucially, brown dwarfs are popping up despite their difficulty to be spotted, and this may show that they are far more abundant than has been thought, which may mean that scientists need to revisit their theories of star formation (3).

 

References

1) "Astronomers Discover Youngest And Lowest Mass Dwarfs" 22nd April 2009 http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Astronomers_Discover_Youngest_And_Lowest_Mass_Dwarfs_999.html With thanks to David

2) Anna Salleh "Coolest brown dwarf in universe found" 20th April 2009 http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2009/04/20/2547549.htm?site=science&topic=latest With thank to David

3) New Scientist "'Failed stars' may be common in our galaxy" 19th April 2009 http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20227044.900-failed-stars-may-be-common-in-our-galaxy.html With thanks to David

 

Habitable Planets around Dwarf Stars

There have been a couple of interesting articles recently about whether life could exist on planets orbiting red dwarf stars.  These small stars are common, but have been traditionally left out of the debate about life on extrasolar planets.  But more recently, planetary scientists have reconsidered this prior prejudice. 

Red dwarfs are much larger than the Dark Star object I discuss, which is more like the planet Jupiter.  Nevertheless, some of the considerations are interesting, and valid for both cases.  In particular, whether tidally-locked planets around parent dwarf stars could have reasonable atmospheres (1).  Another point raised by NASA is that data from protoplanetary disks around red and brown dwarfs shows a lack of hydrogen cyanide, which might be a problem for the evolution on life in such systems (3).  Also of interest is the need for a magnetic field on the candidate habitable world, which is a function of its spin and size (1). 

Here are the references:

1) Michael Schirber, Astrobiology Magazine, 9th April 2009 http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/090409-sm-reddwarf-life.html  With thanks to Brian, Pat and David

2) "Prospects for Red Dwarf 'Earths'" http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=6713  With thanks to David

3) Whitney Clavin, NASA JPL press release "Cool Stars Have Different Mix of Life-Forming Chemicals" 7th April 2009, with thanks to Monika

 

 

Written by Andy Lloyd, author of 'The Dark Star' (2005), 'Ezekiel One' (2009) and 'The Followers of Horus' (2010)


 

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