December 1, 2003 | David F. Coppedge

Vega Has a Neptune?

The BBC News and EurekAlert are pretty excited about a discovery at Vega, the sapphire-blue star that hangs overhead in summertime (from the Northern Hemisphere; Aussies see it at the horizon).  Astronomers think they see a clump of material that might be at the distance from the star similar to Neptune’s distance from the sun.  It might take 300 years for the clump to orbit.

Try not to get too excited, astronomers.  There is not much data to go on.  The articles are talking 95% model, 5% data.  This little clump is not going to save your theories (see 05/30/2003 headline).  EurekAlert exclaims that Vega has “a planetary system around it which is more like our own Solar System than any other so far discovered.”  Hold your horses.  Vega is not the kind of star you would want to live around unless you like getting cooked well done.  There is a need in modern science for judicious restraint.  Scientists need to learn to subdue the news reporters who are watering at the mouth for juicy manna from the gods.  Tell them if they went to Vega’s clump they would make a fine burnt offering.

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Categories: Solar System

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