January 17, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Dust Bunny Lays Planet Eggs

Where do planets come from?  The Dust Bunny.  That’s a line coming from a press release from the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy.  They measured spectra of gas and dust at radio and infrared wavelengths around a sunlike star, and concluded the dust was collecting.  “This suggests that the dust particles are sticking together, much as dust bunnies form under a bed,” said Dr. Jonathan Williams.  “This is the first, albeit tiny, step toward forming new solar systems.”  They had better form fast, though, because time is short.  The release says, “They found that the disks rapidly disappear and concluded that stars have only a few million years to get started on making planets, a far shorter time than conventional theories require.”

Did they watch dust collecting?  No – it was an inference based purely on seeing longer wavelengths than expected from the disk region.  Did they watch for millions of years to see what would happen?  Obviously not.  Did they see planets forming?  No.  Did they demolish conventional theories of star formation?  Yes.  Did they tell a fairy tale?  You decide.

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Categories: Dumb Ideas

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