June 20, 2002 | David F. Coppedge

Hiding Comets Out of Bounds

51; There’s a new theory floating around about where most of the comets came from: other stars.  For many years, astronomers hid them in an unobservable region called the Oort cloud that was assumed to be partly a remnant of the sun’s primordial disk, and material that was ejected outward.  Now, according to the BBC News most comets may have an extra-solar origin.  “This contradicts the earlier theory that most comets were born in the Sun’s protoplanetary disk.”
    Why the change in thinking?  Dr. Harold Levison (Southwest Research Institute) and Dr. Ramon Brasser (University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis) revisited a old model of the origin of the Oort cloud that was rejected in the 1990s.  By assuming that the sun was born in a cluster, they used computer models to show that the sun could have grabbed disk material from other stars.  These became 90% of the sun’s comets, including the famous ones like Halley, Hale-Bopp and McNaught.  “For 60 years we have not known how the Oort cloud formed and for 60 years people have been looking for an answer,” Brasser said.  “It has been a missing piece and it might help understand the evolution and the formation of our Solar System.

If “it might help,” come back and tell us when it does.  In the meantime, your counterpart around another star that drifted away from the sun is falsifying your theory.  Brlxyzda Z0rls1+xb is saying that there’s no way Sol could have gotten 90% of its comets from other stars unless all the other stars in the clusters got 90% of theirs in the same way.  It’s not only illogical, it’s unethical.  Must have equality, you know.  Sol mustn’t be piggish and steal all the comets from everybody else.
    The perceptive reader notices that the Oort Cloud is taught as a fact to schoolchildren and on TV science programs, but here Brasser spilled the beans: “For 60 years we have not known how the Oort cloud formed and for 60 years people have been looking for an answer.”  That’s not surprising, since the Oort Cloud is entirely theoretical, and the origin of theoretical entities without benefit of observations is usually somewhat puzzling.  But rest assured: now Brasser and Levison have the answer!  Problem solved!  Never more will anyone ever wonder about this six-decade-long puzzle!  They just pushed the origin out to other stars that have long since left the neighborhood.  If you believe that, turn in your gullibility coupon for an all-expense vacation to the beautiful Isle of DeBris, where you can listen to the sea lions yodeling oort, oort, oort under nebulous theoretical clouds.

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Categories: Solar System

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