View Full Version : Discussion: Asteroids Make Tau Ceti Lethal

2004-Jul-02, 04:59 PM
SUMMARY: Astronomers have found that a nearby star, Tau Ceti, is surrounded by 10 times as many asteroids and comets as our own Solar System. Even if there are planets orbiting Tau Ceti, they would be unlikely to support life because of the frequent and devastating impacts by these objects. This discovery will help astronomers narrow down their search when looking for distant worlds that may support life; ones which have a small number of comets and asteroids.

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

2004-Jul-02, 05:20 PM
Ok now, they can look at Tau Ceti and see evidence of comets and asteroids but don't know if Tau Ceti has any planets? :huh:


2004-Jul-02, 08:30 PM
Good point - anyone have any ideas why?

2004-Jul-02, 08:43 PM
Originally posted by VanderL@Jul 2 2004, 05:20 PM
Ok now, they can look at Tau Ceti and see evidence of comets and asteroids but don't know if Tau Ceti has any planets? :huh:

They can detect dust particle clouds, but not the tiny planets. I think that they (the Astronomers that detected the dust) are exaggerating the findings. For all we know, the particles detected are too small to cause harm to the extra-solar planets.

2004-Jul-02, 08:43 PM
What I don't understand is why they don't keep looking at it. Our Solar system must have had a lot of comets and asteroids at the beginning because that is where you find the basic building blocks of life. If we hadn't have been bombarded by all of those things we most likely wouldn't be here. ;)

2004-Jul-02, 08:49 PM
Originally posted by sarahnade_me@Jul 2 2004, 08:43 PM
What I don't understand is why they don't keep looking at it.
I'm sure they will look at it continually, just not continuously. Various astronomers will be looking at Tau Ceti off and on with different instruments from now until we get there in a few centuries.

Looking at it continuously would take instrument time away from other worthwhile projects.

2004-Jul-02, 08:52 PM
Yes, of course, I should have realised that LOL Tau Ceti has been known to have a disk around it for some time so the chances are we wouldn't be able to detect any planets because of the disk. (Assuming any gas giants had formed by this stage)

2004-Jul-03, 04:13 AM
Tau Ceti has been the most popular candidate for Life on a nearby star, this is very sad news indeed.

I would guess the absence of a gas giant or two is the reason the asteroid cloud posses such a risk.

On a lighter note, this does then suggest that stars with a gas giant orbiting them, have more chances of a tranquil solar like system.

I would guess that Alpha Centauri is still a strong candidate then. A binary star system is less likely, again to have any problems with asteroids. But with a seperation of 11 Au, there is no shortage of sunlight on any planets there.

2004-Jul-03, 11:21 AM
unlikely to support life

To me it seems it is proof life could very well be there, only not as we expect, ah well...

Life isn't created in a vacuum, but in a tumultious world with lots of explosions and radiation,
should be an interesting place to keep an eye on

2004-Jul-05, 06:21 AM
Fine. If there is no native life there, then it will be all the more easier for us to justify terraforming the system in a few tens of thousands of years.

2004-Jul-08, 06:46 AM
There are some interesting assumptions being made by the astronomers here.

They have apparently detected a large disk of dust around Tau Ceti (which is a sunlike G-class star that is twice as old as our Sun and so would be expected to be relatively clear of dust by now) and they are assuming it is being replenished by lots of comets and asteroids crashing into the planets (if any) and each other.

They have not directly detected the comets and asteroids, only the dust.

N.B. Construction sites are messy dusty places.

Perhaps an advanced civilization is pulling apart the system's planets and building something else (a ring of orbital habitats, a Dyson sphere or perhaps a Niven Ringworld) in their place and generating lots of dust in the process. They've had five billion years longer than us to develop the technology...

2004-Jul-17, 05:38 PM
How far away is Tau Ceti?