Just smashing

A 1951 movie comes to mind when reading this news.

STARGAZERS have had a dramatic glimpse of what happens when planets smash into each other, the first time the results of such an event have been seen.

Two planets about 300 light years from Earth have slammed into each other recently, US astronomers say, the first time evidence of such a catastrophic collision has been seen by scientists.

Astronomers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the California Institute of Technology (CALTECH) said the crash involved two planets orbiting a star in the Aries constellation.

The collision was uncovered while astronomers were attempting to measure the star’s age, and found an unusually large amount of dust orbiting the star.

“It’s as if Earth and Venus collided with each other,” said Benjamin Zuckerman, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy.

“Astronomers have never seen anything like this before. Apparently, major catastrophic collisions can take place in a fully mature planetary system.”

Galactic events like this could justify those who support man exploring space. As A.E. Brain notes– “We need to hedge our bets. Not be stuck on a rock that, while a nice place to live, has no collision insurance.”

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  • Herman

    I would advocate colonizing Mars, but that’s probably the planet we’re most likely to collide with.

  • Herman

    “Two planets about 300 light years from Earth have slammed into each other recently” — quoted news article

    Actually, it seems to me that if the these planets are 300 light-years away, the collision would be around 300 years ago, hardly “recent.”

  • _Mike_

    Actually, it seems to me that if the these planets are 300 light-years away, the collision would be around 300 years ago, hardly “recent”

    Recent is a term used comparatively. That is, at least two things are being compared when one uses the term ‘recent’.

    In terms of the age of the universe, 300 years is very much ‘recent’. I’m guessing that the folks observing such events typically compare them on cosmological timescales not a 24 hour new cycle timescale…