25 September 2008

When planets collide...

Two terrestrial planets orbiting a mature sun-like star some 300 light-years from Earth recently suffered a violent collision, astronomers... will report in a December issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

"It's as if Earth and Venus collided with each other... Apparently, major catastrophic collisions can take place in a fully mature planetary system. If any life was present on either planet, the massive collision would have wiped out everything in a matter of minutes — the ultimate extinction event..."

"The planetary collision in BD+20 307 was not observed directly but rather was inferred from the extraordinary quantity of dust particles that orbit the binary pair at about the same distance as Earth and Venus are from our sun... "

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