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Multiple Asteroid Belts Found Orbiting Nearby Star

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the no-word-on-asteroid-suspenders dept.

Space 135

Kligat writes "Scientists have found two asteroid belts around the star Epsilon Eridani, the ninth closest star to our solar system. Epsilon Eridani also possesses an icy outer ring similar in composition to our Kuiper Belt, but with 100 times more material, and a Jovian mass planet near the edge of the innermost belt. Researchers believe that two other planets must orbit the 850 million year old star near the other two belts. Terrestrial planets are possible, but not yet indicated."

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135 comments

Training Grounds... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25549273)

for future Earth Force pilots, before the civil war.

Assteroids, Or Are These Actually Hemorrhoids? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551225)

Plenty of Prep-H anyone?

Hemorrhoids are common. In the USA, the prevalence is about 4.4%.[1][2] It is estimated that approximately one half of all Americans have had this condition by the age of 50, and that 50% to 85% of the world's population will be affected by hemorrhoids at some time in their life. However, only a small number seek medical treatment. Annually, only about 500,000 people in the U.S. are medically treated for hemorrhoids, with 10 to 20% of them requiring surgeries. CausesThe causes of hemorrhoids include genetic predisposition (weak rectal vein walls and/or valves), straining during bowel movements, and too much pressure on the rectal veins due to poor muscle tone or poor posture. Similarly, sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause hemorrhoids. Hypertension, particularly in the portal vein, can also cause hemorrhoids because of the connections between the portal vein and the vena cava which occur in the rectal wall - known as portocaval anastomoses.[3]

Additional factors that can influence the course of hemorrhoids (mostly by increasing rectal vein pressure), especially for those with a genetic predisposition, are obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.

Increased straining during bowel movements, (e.g. constipation, diarrhea) may lead to hemorrhoids.

Pregnancy causes hypertension and increases strain during bowel movements, and thus hemorrhoids are often associated with pregnancy.

Excessive consumption of alcohol or caffeine can both cause hemorrhoids. Both can cause diarrhea. Alcohol can also cause alcoholic liver disease leading to portal hypertension. Caffeine on the other hand can cause general hypertension.
Food
Dehydration can cause a hard stool or chronic constipation which can lead to hemorrhoidal irritation. An excess of lactic acid in the stool, a product of excessive consumption of dairy products such as cheese, can cause irritation and a reduction of consumption can bring relief. Vitamin E deficiency is also a common cause.

Food considered "probiotic," such as yogurt with active culture, may help keep the gut functioning normally and thus help prevent flare-ups, as will the consumption of fruit. Types of hemorrhoids
Direct view of hemorrhoid seen on sigmoidoscopy(I84.3-I84.5) External hemorrhoids are those that occur outside of the anal verge (the distal end of the anal canal). They are sometimes painful, and can be accompanied by swelling and irritation. Itching, although often thought to be a symptom from external hemorrhoids, is more commonly due to skin irritation.
(I84.3) External hemorrhoids are prone to thrombosis: if the vein ruptures and a blood clot develops, the hemorrhoid becomes a thrombosed hemorrhoid.[4]
(I84.0-I84.2) Internal hemorrhoids are those that occur inside the rectum. As this area lacks pain receptors, internal hemorrhoids are usually not painful and most people are not aware that they have them. Internal hemorrhoids, however, may bleed when irritated.
(I84.1) Untreated internal hemorrhoids can lead to two severe forms of hemorrhoids: prolapsed and strangulated hemorrhoids:
Prolapsed hemorrhoids are internal hemorrhoids that are so distended that they are pushed outside the anus.
If the anal sphincter muscle goes into spasm and traps a prolapsed hemorrhoid outside the anal opening, the supply of blood is cut off, and the hemorrhoid becomes a strangulated hemorrhoid.
PreventionPrevention of hemorrhoids includes drinking more fluids, eating more dietary fiber (such as fiber supplements, fruits and vegetables, and cereals high in fiber), exercising, practicing better posture, and reducing bowel movement strain and time. Hemorrhoid sufferers should avoid using laxatives and should strictly limit time straining during bowel movement. Wearing tight clothing and underwear will also contribute to irritation and poor muscle tone in the region and promote hemorrhoid development. Some sufferers report a more comfortable experience without underwear or wearing only very lightweight panties, etc.

Fluids emitted by the intestinal tract may contain irritants that may increase the fissures associated with hemorrhoids. Washing the anus with cool water and soap may reduce the swelling and increase blood supply for quicker healing and may remove irritating fluid.

Kegel exercises for the pelvic floor may also prove helpful.

Many people do not get a sufficient supply of dietary fiber (20 to 25 grams daily), but small changes in a person's daily diet can help tremendously in both prevention and treatment of hemorrhoids.
Use of Squat Toilets
Based on their very low incidence in the developing world, where people squat for bodily functions, hemorrhoids have been attributed to the use of the unnatural "sitting" toilet.[5] [6] In 1987, an Israeli physician, Dr. Berko Sikirov, published a study testing this hypothesis by having hemorrhoid sufferers convert to squat toilets.[7] Eighteen of the 20 patients were completely relieved of their symptoms (pain and bleeding) with no recurrence, even 30 months after completion of the study. This chart summarizes the results.

No follow-up studies have ever been published. The American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons is silent regarding the therapeutic value of squatting. Examination
Endoscopic image of internal hemorrhoids seen on retroflexion of the flexible sigmoidoscope at the ano-rectal junctionAfter visual examination of the anus and surrounding area for external or prolapsed hemorrhoids, a doctor would conduct a digital examination. In addition to probing for hemorrhoidal bulges, a doctor would also look for indications of rectal tumor or polyp, enlarged prostate and abscesses.

Visual confirmation of hemorrhoids can be done by doing an anoscopy, using a medical device called an anoscope. This device is basically a hollow tube with a light attached at one end that allows the doctor to see the internal hemorrhoids, as well as polyps in the rectum.

If warranted, more detailed examinations, such as sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy can be performed. In sigmoidoscopy, the last 60cm of the colon and rectum are examined whereas in colonoscopy the entire bowel is examined.

A pathologist will look for dilated vascular spaces which exhibit thrombosis and recanalization. TreatmentsTreatments for hemorrhoids vary in their cost, risk, and effectiveness. Different cultures and individuals approach treatment differently. Some of the treatments used are listed here in increasing order of intrusiveness and cost.

For many people, hemorrhoids are mild and temporary conditions that heal spontaneously or by the same measures recommended for prevention. There is no medicine that will cure hemorrhoids, but local treatments such as warm sitz baths, using a bidet, extendable showerhead, cold compress, or topical analgesic (such as Nupercainal), can provide temporary relief. Consistent use of medicated creams during the early stages of a hemorrhoid flare-up will also provide relief and may stave off further development and irritation. However, creams containing steroid preparations weaken the skin and may contribute to further flare-ups. Keep the area clean and dry, with some lubrication provided by hemorrhoidal creams or a lubricant. Suppositories such as Faktu [8] can also relieve the symptoms.
Natural treatments
Some people successfully apply natural procedures for treatment or reversal of chronic conditions. These procedures largely echo the prevention measures. However, you should always inform your doctor of any self-care measures you have taken, including herbal or "natural" remedies, to avoid possible drug interactions. Although unorthodox, olive oil has been known to bring relief.

They include:
Reducing regional pressure in such ways as improving posture and muscle tone, or in severe cases, undergoing a profound psychophysical reeducation, by a method such as the Alexander Technique.
Taking herbs and dietary supplements that strengthen vein walls, such as butcher's broom, horse chestnut, bromelain, and Japanese pagoda tree extracts. Drinking 99% pure aloe juice can also relieve itching and swelling.
Topical application of natural astringents and soothing agents, such as Witch hazel (astringent), cranesbill, aloe vera, and honey
Drinking chamomile tea several times a day
Eating fiber-rich bulking agents such as plantain and Psyllium seed husks to help create soft stool that is easy to pass to lessen the irritation of existing hemorrhoids.
Using the squatting position for bowel movements.[9]
The combination of internal and external remedies is particularly recommended, e.g. witch-hazel suppositories combined with frequent cups of strong chamomile tea.[10]

Oral dietary supplementation can help to treat and prevent many complications of hemorrhoids, and natural botanicals such as Butchers Broom, Horse Chestnut, and bioflavonoids can be an effective addition to hemorrhoid treatment.[11]

Butcher's Broom: Butcher's broom extract, or Ruscus aculeatus, contains ruscogenins that have anti-inflammatory and vasoconstrictor effects. Supplementation with Butcher's Broom helps tighten and strengthen veins. Butcher's broom has traditionally been used to treat venous problems including hemorrhoids and varicose veins.[12][13][14]

Horse Chestnut: Horse chestnut extract, or Aesculus hippocastanum, contains a saponin known as aescin, that has anti-inflammatory, anti-edema, and venotonic actions. Aescin improves tone in vein walls, thereby strengthening the support structure of the vein. Double blind studies have shown that supplementation with horse chestnut helps relieve the pain and swelling associated with chronic venous insufficiency.[15][16]

Bilberry Bioflavonoid: Bilberry extract, or Vaccinium myrtillus, is an anthocyanoside bioflavonoid. Supplementation with this potent flavonoid protects and maintains venous strength and function.[17]
Medical treatments
Some people require the following medical treatments for chronic or severe hemorrhoids:
Rubber band ligation
sometimes called Baron ligation. Elastic bands are applied onto an internal hemorrhoid to cut off its blood supply. Within several days, the withered hemorrhoid is sloughed off during normal bowel movement.
Hemorrhoidolysis/Galvanic Electrotherapy
desiccation of the hemorrhoid by electrical current.
Sclerotherapy (injection therapy)
sclerosant or hardening agent is injected into hemorrhoids. This causes the vein walls to collapse and the hemorrhoids to shrivel up.
Cryosurgery
a frozen tip of a cryoprobe is used to destroy hemorrhoidal tissues. Rarely used anymore because of side effects.
Laser, infrared or BICAP coagulation
laser, infrared beam, or electricity is used to cauterize the affected tissues. Lasers are now much less popular. Infrared coagulation has been studied in comparison with RBL and found to be as effective in hemorrhoids up to grade III. These are the most readily available non-surgical procedures in the US.
Hemorrhoidectomy
a true surgical procedure to excise and remove hemorrhoids. Has possible correlation with incontinence issues later in life; in addition, many patients complain that pain during recovery is severe. For this reason is often now recommended only for severe (grade IV) hemorrhoids.
Stapled Hemorrhoidectomy
Also called the procedure for prolapse and hemorrhoids, it is designed to resect soft tissue proximal to the dentate line, which disrupts the blood flow to the hemorrhoids. It is generally less painful than complete removal of hemorrhoids and also allows for faster recovery times. It's meant for hemorrhoids that fall out or bleed and is not helpful for painful outside conditions.
Enema
This Practice is used to clean the rectum. While it is a simple procedure, it can be complicated by hemorrhoids, so in such cases, it should be done by a doctor. In an enema, water is injected into the rectum and then flushed out, cleaning the area.
Doppler Guided Hemorrhoidal Artery Ligation
The only evidence based surgery for all grades of hemorrhoids. It does not involve cutting tissues or even a stay at the hospital; patients are usually back to work on the same day. It is the best treatment for bleeding piles, as the bleeding stops immediately. [18]
HAL-RAR
Last few years have seen a lot of changes in management of hemorrhoids , Recto Anal Repair is a new procedure where in your hemorrhoids get cured and any prolapse of hemorrhoids or mucosa is managed without cutting any tissue [19]
Diseases with similar symptoms
Symptoms associated with rectal cancer, anal fissure, anal abscess, anal fistula, and other diseases may be similar to those produced by hemorrhoids and may be reduced by the topical analgesic methods described above. For this reason, it is a good idea to consult with a physician when these symptoms are encountered, particularly for the first time, and periodically should the problem continue. In the US, colonoscopy is recommended as a general diagnostic for those over age 50 (40 with family history of bowel cancers); a clear (normal) scope is good for 10 years.

Summary neglects the important news... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25549285)

It's one possible location for Star Trek's planet Vulcan!

Babylon 5 (4, Interesting)

wideBlueSkies (618979) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550069)

While talking about Sci-Fi, it might be worth noting that this system is the home of Babylon 5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epsilon_III [wikipedia.org]

Re:Babylon 5 (1)

BearRanger (945122) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550207)

Sci-Fi seems to have limited originality. It's also Vulcan's system.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulcan_(Star_Trek_planet) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Babylon 5 (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550515)

Vulcan's system is 40 Eridani (which is actually a triple system, including the first discovered white dwarf). This star is Epsilon Eridani. Not the same.

Re:Babylon 5 (1)

BearRanger (945122) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550847)

Interesting. I posted this from memory, based on the James Blish novelization of "Amok Time" that I read in the mid-70's. In the novelization he/she explicitly said Epsilon Eridani. I suppose the canon has moved on since then.

Re:Babylon 5 (1)

RoverDaddy (869116) | more than 5 years ago | (#25553383)

I am also quite confident that I've read a Star Trek novel that explicitly identified Vulcan as a planet of Epsilon Eridani. I recall the prologue or opening chapters of the novel referred to Earth as "Sol III" and Vulcan as "Eri (something)" for short, but it definitely mentioned Epsilon Eridani as the star.

Re:Babylon 5 (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#25554435)

Apparently there was some debate about it, but an episode of Enterprise finished it off when it explicitly gave the distance from Earth to Vulcan as 16 light years.

To me, neither one works very well. In TOS there are lots of references to Vulcan's big, hot, white sun. Vulcans have extra eyelids because of it, etc. I suppose a planet in close orbit of 40 Eridani's white dwarf companion could work, but the descriptions sound more like a star like Sirius.

Re:Babylon 5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25550955)

It's just Babylon 5 that has limited originality. http://sc2.sf.net/ [sf.net]

Re:Babylon 5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25550241)

According to your source, Vulcan orbits 40 Eridani A (16.5 light years away)--this is NOT Epsilon Eridani (~11 light years away).

Obligatory: (0, Offtopic)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550277)

... that's not a moon!!

Message to Tina Fey... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25550115)

Newsflash: the reason you're still single while your little ovaries wither away is that you are a shrill twat. No one gives a shit about your politics, so shut the hell up and dance for us, puppet. Most guys would just love to run up in your guts and then get their dash on, not actually listen to you.

Construction debris (2, Funny)

Flounder (42112) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549289)

Looks like the builders of The Great Machine inside Epsilon 3 are just dumping their debris in orbit.

SUCK MY DEAD DEBRIS BALLS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25549321)

You are NOT funny. I want you to flounder around like a DEAD FISH. GO AWAY before I track down your IP address and KILL YOU WITH A RUSTY WOOD SAW. If I am feeling angry, I will kill you with SYPHILIS.

Re:Construction debris (4, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549381)

Poor Zathras. Never any rest for Zathras.

Re:Construction debris (1)

shogun (657) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550723)

Unfortunately Zathras finally got some rest [variety.com] a few years ago.

Re:Construction debris (2, Funny)

Ramze (640788) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551459)

No, that was Zathras, not Zathras... Zathras has many family -- names sound very similar. Ah... poor Zathras. Zathras will miss him.

heresy! (4, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549317)

epsilon eridani only 850 million years old? there is no way a race as ancient and wise as the vulcan could have come from such a young star system

look, i am an avid supporter of scientific progress as much as the next slashdotter, but when these so-called astronomers report something that contradicts well-established star trek canon, i have to put my foot down and wonder at the agenda of these propagandizers

yours,
star trek fundamentalist

Re:heresy! (3, Informative)

Flounder (42112) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549421)

The canon home of Vulcan is 40 Eridani, not Epsilon Eridani. So, no scientific conspiracy.

Re:heresy! (2, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549425)

Frighteningly, I seem to be even more of a Trek geek than you are — Vulcan is in the 40 Eridani star system, aka Omicron Eridani, not Epsilon Eridani.

Re:heresy! (2, Funny)

servognome (738846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549601)

Vulcan is in the 40 Eridani star system, aka Omicron Eridani, not Epsilon Eridani.

This is Omicron Eridani. ... Epsilon Eridani exploded six months after we were left here. The shock shifted the orbit of this solar system and everything was laid waste. Admiral Kirk ...never bothered to check on our progress.

Re:heresy! (4, Funny)

jagdish (981925) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550361)

Hmmm, Omicron Eridani. Is that near Omicron Persei 8 [gotfuturama.com]

mod parent up (2, Interesting)

Digitus1337 (671442) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549477)

He's right, it'd have to be at least 851 million years old.

All kidding aside, it's very hard to try to figure out just how long it would take to come up with life (almost as we know it) under circumstances even marginally different than our own. That said, the Vulcan are very similar to us because humanoids originate from the same planet. For more on this, see TNG episode 6x20.

Re:mod parent up (1)

Teilo (91279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549801)

Interestingly enough, this was one bit of canon that originated in the Star Trek novels well before that episode was written. I wish I could remember which ones — it has been over 20 years since I read those things. They were called the Progenitors in a number of the books.

Re:mod parent up (2, Interesting)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550703)

that's the one where they find bits and pieces of code hidden in the DNA of various lifeforms on different planets, right?

does that mean that humans didn't actually evolve naturally, but instead were the result of genetic engineering (intelligent design)? if so, that was a dumb plot line. i mean, don't various humanoid civilizations in the Star Trek universe have vastly different ages? i know humanity isn't 851 million years old, not even by the 24th century. besides, there was also that episode where the Enterprise crew started to de-evolve, showing that all the different species evolved from more primitive non-humanoid lifeforms.

personally, i think that it's very likely that the humanoid body plan could evolve multiple times independently on different planets. even though evolution is driven by chance mutations, the evolutionary paths that life takes are not completely random. there are still certain physical attributes and biological designs that life inevitably evolves into. these are dictated by natural laws such as physics & chemistry.

for instance, the eye has evolves independently multiple times on earth. and it's no coincidence that most walking animals are quadrupeds, or that most species have an even number of limbs. having eyes near the top an organism provides an optimal field of vision. having fully articulated digits and an opposable thumb allows an organism to interact with its environment and manipulate objects and develop/use tools. vocal chords allow for verbal communication and more complex social interaction, therefore may also facilitate the development of advanced cultures. these rules hold true for life on any planet.

and although sexual selection may create arbitrary biological characteristics, the general humanoid body design probably isn't completely arbitrary. so even though there may be alien lifeforms that are drastically different from us, it's also possible that there humanoid species out there that evolved independently from us.

Re:mod parent up (1)

leomekenkamp (566309) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552177)

i know humanity isn't 851 million years old, not even by the 24th century.

That's right, everybody knows the Earth is only 6000 years old!

*ducks*

Re:mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25552947)

hahahaha, nice one.

Re:mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25552319)

Star Trek is fiction.

Re:mod parent up (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 5 years ago | (#25554113)

that's the one where they find bits and pieces of code hidden in the DNA of various lifeforms on different planets, right?

I think its the one where they reconstruct the formula for gasoline because Picard's dad wants him to enter a moped race.

We might be talking about the same episode, though; there might be some inaccuracies in the German dub.

Re:heresy! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549643)

epsilon eridani only 850 million years old? there is no way a race as ancient and wise as the vulcan could have come from such a young star system

Vulcans could have come from humanoid-like *settlers*. There was even an episode of NG where they met a holographic recording projection of the original humanoid race that gave rise to all the space races that resemble humans in cheap costumes because truly alien creatures are too expensive for a typical Hollywood budget. Kudos for turning cheapskate-ness into a story.
     

Re:heresy! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549925)

Vulcans could have come from humanoid-like *settlers*

Just another failed Pak colony [wikipedia.org] .

(sorry about crossing the streams, though Niven did write one animated Star Trek episode).

Re:heresy! (1)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551275)

Someone send a rescue message?

Re:heresy! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551505)

Uh no thanks. We are doing just fine without "protection".

Re:heresy! (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551585)

though Niven did write one animated Star Trek episode

Well, yes and no. It was an adaptation (which he did) of his earlier Known Space story, "The Soft Weapon", with Spock substituting for the Puppeteer Nessus in the animation (and other minor variations). (As I'm sure you knew.) Thus the Kzinti end up the Star Trek universe.

(Niven also did some episodes of "Land of the Lost", none based on his Known Space stories, AFAIK.)

Re:heresy! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551903)

Twenty years ago here in Melbourne there was this monthly Star Trek night. They mainly showed episodes of the original TV series. It moved from place to place and attracted a lot of regulars, including some very strange trekkies (who preferred to be known as "treckers") and didn't actually watch anything because they apparently knew it off by heart anyway.

One month they put on a few of these animated apisodes and I got a surprise when I recognised Niven's story.

I didn't think much of the episode, though I like the story. Characters can't be translated like that. William Gibson did an episode of The X Files and I didn't think much of that either, though I like his books.

Re:heresy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25550785)

epsilon eridani only 850 million years old? there is no way a race as ancient and wise as the vulcan could have come from such a young star system

look, i am an avid supporter of scientific progress as much as the next slashdotter, but when these so-called astronomers report something that contradicts well-established star trek canon, i have to put my foot down and wonder at the agenda of these propagandizers

yours,
star trek fundamentalist

It must be both sick and sad for you to be this retarded. I suppose you are 35 and still live in your Mom's basement too.

Re:heresy! (1)

Shashvat (676991) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551221)

Whoosh!

Hmm. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25549379)

For those of you who dont want to RTFA but want some reference on why this is important, let me put a quote for you:

"Studying Epsilon Eridani is like having a time machine to look at our solar system when it was young,"

Oh crap! (2, Funny)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549383)

Do we have time to assemble a crack team of oil-rig roughnecks to land on them and nuke them? More importantly, does this mean another terrible Aerosmith song?!?

Re:Oh crap! (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 5 years ago | (#25554329)

More importantly, does this mean another terrible Aerosmith song?!?

Screw the song, do we have to suffer another "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing"-level music video? When that video was released the Yangtze burst its banks, the ruble devalued by 70%, Iraq officially suspended all cooperation with UNSCOM teams and over 200 were killed and over 4,500 injured in US embassy bombings. And that's just one month.

I really hope the United Nations and/or NATO will make sure this tragedy doesn't happen again. I advocate surgical preemptive strikes in case a new Armageddon script is suspected.

More Informative Article (5, Informative)

tirerim (1108567) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549419)

This one [sciencenews.org] actually gives some information on how they detected the belts (short version: it's based on infrared emissions that could only come from rocky debris).

And here [arxiv.org] is the actual paper on arXiv, if you want the full technical details of their methods.

Re:More Informative Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25550403)

THIS is what I was wonering when I read TFA yesterday.

Thank you :)

Re:More Informative Article (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550893)

how they detected the belts (short version: it's based on infrared emissions that could only come from rocky debris).

I wonder if a bunch of orbiting solar panels would generate a similar signature? In other words, if another civilization was mining star-light via panels, their signature could resemble asteroid belts. Of course its hard to really know without knowing more about the technology they actually use, but we might find something unnatural about it upon further study.
     

Re:More Informative Article (1)

leomekenkamp (566309) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552205)

If we were to build a solar farm in the sahara (550 x 550 km), this would generate enough energy to fill the current need of the whole of humanity.

If at a distance of 10 light years we could detect solar panels and confuse them for an asteroid belt, there are some aliens with quite an energy bill.

This is off topic, but...(Fiction recommendation) (1, Interesting)

Hottie Parms (1364385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549479)

This star (rather, a fictional planet orbiting it) is a central feature in a very good series of books by Alastair Reynolds. I suggest people take a look at the Revelation Space series (although the first book is a bit dry, his writing matures quite nicely through the series.)

Sorry, I'm re-reading the series now, and this just jumped out at me. Word association = yay.

Re:This is off topic, but...(Fiction recommendatio (0)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549537)

Yeah, fire up your reefersleep casket, we're goin' .9999c for a while!

Re:This is off topic, but...(Fiction recommendatio (1, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549563)

To be fair, Epsilon Eridani is featured in quite a few [wikipedia.org] works of fiction.

Re:This is off topic, but...(Fiction recommendatio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25555013)

It was going to be part of at least one more that never got made.

Back in the 80's the team that produced the Galaxy Rangers cartoon was working on a new show called Eridani which was going to be set, guess where.

The show never got past the concept stage. A few feeler ads (high-tech police and ride-on dinosaurs from what I remember) were placed in trade magazines but the bottom had fallen out of cartoons and the show never got made.

Shrug. I bet nobody else remembers this but me. I should just forget it too and let the memory die in peace.

Re:This is off topic, but...(Fiction recommendatio (0)

geckipede (1261408) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549615)

Construction of the rustbelt is far ahead of schedule then. They've made incredible progress.

Little bit light on details? (0, Redundant)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549487)

What was the method they used for this discovery and how does it work?

Sounds like a great place to send a probe too. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549565)

In a hundred or so years when we have the technology to get there. Might even be the ideal place for a colony someday.

A couple decades more likely (2, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549821)

Research into ion engines is humming right along.

Re:A couple decades more likely (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552779)

The theoretical upper limit of an ion engine gets you there in about 100 years, and doesn't offer you any way to stop, your probe better snap very quick pictures.

Re:Sounds like a great place to send a probe too. (2, Insightful)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549863)

Yes, it would be a good candidate for a probe, especially since we could learn more about the early solar system.

But as for setting up a colony, that seems doubtful. The star is only 850 million years old, it doesn't seem likely that any rocky planets in orbit would be stable enough yet to support life (it would be a lot easier to set up camp on a planet teaming with at least primitive life, assuming an ecosystem compatible with life from Earth). Not to mention the increased likelihood of cometary impacts on planets in the inner system (a younger star system wouldn't have cleared out all the debris from the initial formation yet).

Re:Sounds like a great place to send a probe too. (2, Interesting)

arbitraryaardvark (845916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550351)

The place to put the colony is in the inner asteroid belt. Earthlike planets if any would be just a bonus. Based on what little we already know about the system, it's an obvious place to go.
Maybe just robots and nanites at first.

I wish I'd kept a copy of when I submitted this story earlier today, although the posted version is as good as mine.

see previous slashdot stories
http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/02/18/1359214 [slashdot.org] Interstellar Ark
http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/11/214248 [slashdot.org] Mission Could Seek Out Spock's Home Planet (re 40 eridani, not epsilon eridani)

Re:Sounds like a great place to send a probe too. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550649)

I don't see that life by age 850M is particularly improbable. There is a good chance that Earth had some sort of life by that age and photosynthesis not much later. It is not a great stretch to assume that things might have happened a bit faster elsewhere, especially if the late heavy bombardment happened earlier (or not at all).

An ecosytem compatible with Earth life, on the other hand, seems extremely unlikely (not that it would be necessary, as long as there was an oxygen atmosphere).

Re:Sounds like a great place to send a probe too. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25553305)

Or if it has C02, seed it with plants - if you feel it's OK to impose an "oxygen disaster" on an innocent planet.

Not to rain on this parade but... (4, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550385)

In a hundred or so years when we have the technology to get there. Might even be the ideal place for a colony someday.

Look, I agree that it's a nice place to go visit, but if you looked into things, you would find that it is 10.5 Light Years Away [solstation.com] from earth it would take close to an eternity to get there with current rocket technology [northwestern.edu] and certainly what is being developed. And not to rain on the parade again, but before anyone goes touting ION ENGINES will get us there, no, they really won't. You see Ion Engines [northwestern.edu] need large amounts of power to run. Really large amounts that are generally limited to the amount of juice that can be generated by huge solar panels. Short of putting a nuclear reactor on this ship to get us there, we simply won't have enough sunlight to make the engine run once is starts to fade away from the centerish part of our solar system.

In short, I would love to agree, but I really think that you would need to change the "hundred or so" part of your post to be "many hundreds or so".

That's assuming we can deal with the massive solar winds [wikipedia.org] that are 30 times as powerful as the ones in our system. Did I forget that part?

Re:Not to rain on this parade but... (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550543)

There's no real theoretical reason why we couldn't send a probe to a star even 10 light years away with current or near current technology. It would just take quite a while to get there. Yes, it would definitely carry a nuke of some sort.

Re:Not to rain on this parade but... (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552585)

"quite a while to get there"

yeah, like maybe 100,000 years.

Re:Not to rain on this parade but... (1)

CarbonShell (1313583) | more than 5 years ago | (#25553145)

Before we send a probe I think we should first extend our (read: world) space programs to more reachable goals.

No, I am not talking about Mars. Really, who's bright idea was it to want to build an outpost on a planet we have to travel 6 months to even reach?
Talk about jumping the gun.

IMHO first step should be the moon. It is reachable, maintainable and if something happens, the station can be evacuated and all personnel can back to earth in 2 days.

If we can reach that goal it would be a huge step.

This would already extend our reach into the universe by a handsome margin. Plus we also have a platform for further reaches into space.

Re:Not to rain on this parade but... (0, Flamebait)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25553377)

> IMHO first step should be the moon.

Um, we've already done that. It would be interesting to go back and we should do it, but it would be nothing new.

> Plus we also have a platform for further reaches into space.

It isn't a particularly useful platform.

Re:Not to rain on this parade but... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25552679)

If you use three different technologies, you could probably do it with a three-figure (years) travel time. 1. Ion engines with solar panels for near-solar acceleration; 2. some kind of nuke battery once you're too far from the sun for the solar panels; 3. solar sails for deceleration once you reach e Eridani (put that solar wind to work). No good for people, but fine for a probe.

Re:Not to rain on this parade but... (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552797)

we simply won't have enough sunlight to make the engine run once is starts to fade away from the centerish part of our solar system.

You don't need or want the engine to keep running, though. You build up your speed in the inner solar system, set your trajectory and turn the engine off.

The real problem with ion engines is that you'll be moving way too fast to gather enough sunlight to slow down in the destination solar system.

Re:Not to rain on this parade but... (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 5 years ago | (#25553119)

I don't understand why not use nuclear reactors to propel us to relativistic speeds. It's the only possible way to do it, unless there is a major physics breakthrough.

Re:Not to rain on this parade but... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25553243)

> I don't understand why not use nuclear reactors to propel us to relativistic speeds.

Mostly because we don't know how yet. We will.

> It's the only possible way to do it, unless there is a major physics breakthrough.

There are other ways (at least for the launch) such as laser rockets. Any starship will certainly carry a nuclear reactor (possibly fusion), though.

Re:Not to rain on this parade but... relativistic (1)

Markvs (17298) | more than 5 years ago | (#25554927)

We don't talk about relativistic speed, we talk about fractions of relativistic speed. Say we use "c" for the constant speed of light. If we can get to even .1 light speed (something which is pretty much impossible at this time, even with an Orion pusher-plate nuclear ship), we'd get to that star in 100 years. So you're talking either a probe or at best a multi-generational starship. And good luck getting data back over such distances!

Re:Not to rain on this parade but... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25553341)

> Short of putting a nuclear reactor on this ship to get us there...

Yes, of course a starship would carry a nuclear reactor.

Re:Not to rain on this parade but... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25553689)

Well since a hundred years ago we where lucky to fly at 45 MPH or shoot a rocket a few hundred feet it might be possible.
Notice that I said a hundred years or so. Also in a hundred years I would hope we would have fusion and possibly a pulse fusion drive.

Re:Not to rain on this parade but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25554821)

Well, you DID forget one thing. If we got there and encountered massive winds from the star, they would not be SOLAR winds.

Sol is here. Go outside during the day some time and look up. That's Sol. Everything Sol-ar comes from it.

So some other star's winds would need a new name.

Stop saying "our solar system" too. There's THE solar system. Just one. We live in it. Everything else is not solar, so there is no point in saying "our" -there simply isn't any other solar system to compare it to so "our" is the wrong word. There is no "other" one.

Re:Not to rain on this parade but... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25555195)

Any intersteller travel is idiotic at this point in our technology.

Due to how slow our probes travel, in all likelyhood, we'd get to the nearest star system much faster if we waited 50-100 years and then built a probe with some currently unavailable supertech with a higher velocity.

For example, Voyager 1 is currently our fastest object, at 17 km/second. Lets say we can increase that to 1700km/second with a dedicated intersteller probe. Alpha Centauri is about 3.78 × 10^13 KM away. That's still a 700 year travel time.

In 50 years, if we could make a probe that went 8% faster, we'd get there sooner.

In 100 years, if we could make a probe that went 17% faster, we'd get there sooner.

With the distances and time involved, any modern intersteller probe launched is, quite likely, going to only be useful as an example of early 21st century technology centuries or millenium down the road.

Re:Sounds like a great place to send a probe too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25552777)

Congress has just passed a tax increase that covers the new star system. The residents will owe huge penalties and interest when the tax collector arrives.

Just remember, (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549603)

never tell me the odds

3 rings - not 2 (4, Informative)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549827)

From TFA:

Astronomers have discovered that the nearby star Epsilon Eridani has two rocky asteroid belts and an outer icy ring, making it a triple-ring system.
The inner asteroid belt is a virtual twin of the belt in our solar system, while the outer asteroid belt holds 20 times more material. Moreover, the presence of these three rings of material implies that unseen planets confine and shape them.

Two rings of rocks, and one of ice.

Re:3 rings - not 2 (1)

natebarney (987940) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550471)

Two rings of rocks, and one of ice.

In the Land of Eridani where the Shadows lie.

Re:3 rings - not 2 (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550731)

No, that was Z'ha'dum. Waaay out on the rim.

Re:3 rings - not 2 (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550925)

What is this astrop0rn? 2rings1ice? :-)

Re:3 rings - not 2 (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551085)

That's so wrong.

Hang on, I mean, I totally have no idea what that reference means. I have never....

Re:3 rings - not 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25554815)

And One ring to bind them.

Astrologers thing they are so smart (0, Offtopic)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549829)

I bet they can't even accurately predict what the odds are of successfully navigating through this asteroid belt.

(It'd take me only 10 parsecs to figure it out. That's how good I am at).

Sometimes I amaze myself..

Re:Astrologers thing they are so smart (4, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25549943)

I bet they can't even accurately predict what the odds are of successfully navigating through this asteroid belt.

Easy. Just stay out of plane.

Re:Astrologers thing they are so smart (3, Funny)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550395)

I bet they can't even accurately predict what the odds are of successfully navigating through this asteroid belt.

Easy. Just stay out of plane.

Can't do that, chief, there's a star destroyer on my back.

Re:Astrologers thing they are so smart (1)

flewp (458359) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550725)

Do you know a few maneuvers to get away from it? Like maybe listing lazily to the left?

Re:Astrologers thing they are so smart (2, Informative)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551145)

(It'd take me only 10 parsecs to figure it out. That's how good I am at).

It would take you around 300 000 000 000 000 kilometers to work out if you can get through something roughly 8 975 880 000 km wide?

You too can read about what a parsec [wikipedia.org] and astronomical unit [wikipedia.org] is in the privacy of your own home.

Re:Astrologers thing they are so smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551603)

Geek card. Now. Leave it by the security exit.

Re:Astrologers thing they are so smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551759)

...and for you I'd recommend brushing up on popular culture [imdb.com]

Re:Astrologers thing they are so smart (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552639)

Hmmm, I thought the quote referred to a twelve parsec run?

Besides, how can you bring yourself to glorify such an obvious scientific error (whatever the context was)?

Re:Astrologers thing they are so smart (1)

Sibko (1036168) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552255)

This picture [wikimedia.org] shows how many asteroids there are in the inner solar system.

The high population of the main belt makes for a very active environment, where collisions between asteroids occur frequently. Collisions between main belt bodies with a mean radius of 10 km are expected to occur about once every 10 million years.

If you were to take a random picture of some place in the belt, you'd get nothing but blackness. If I recall correctly, the average distance between asteroids in the belt is around 100,000 miles. You have an extremely good chance of not hitting anything even by blindly going through.

Mighty Mighty Hulk! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25550203)

Hope there isn't any Veldspar in them thar rocks!

http://www.eve-online.com/ [eve-online.com]

The Planets (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25550375)

Hi,

I like blond, do you like blond?

That's not right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25550437)

Nowhere in the Halo novels do they mention these belts around Epsilon Eridani.

Blame Mars (1)

srothroc (733160) | more than 5 years ago | (#25550803)

Maybe those planets showed signs of dangerously uncivilized behavior and the Martians decided to off them [wikipedia.org] .

Suggestions for basic astronomy/cosmology book? (2, Interesting)

Nebulo (29412) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551065)

A co-worker and I were discussing this story today. He had a very poor education growing up and I had to explain a great deal for him to really 'get' what's going on at Epsilon Eridani.

Can anyone recommend a good basic astronomy/cosmology book that I can give him to bring him somewhat up to speed? For reference, I had to explain that all the stars in the sky are just like our sun; that's his level of understanding. He's very smart and motivated to learn, but has very little background in science.

Thanks!

Re:Suggestions for basic astronomy/cosmology book? (1)

rugatero (1292060) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552897)

How about this? [thespaceshop.com] :)
Seriously though, I've heard good things about Cosmology: The Science of the Universe, by Edward Harrison - although I can say no more than that.

Re:Suggestions for basic astronomy/cosmology book? (1)

Nebulo (29412) | more than 5 years ago | (#25554147)

Hah. It's a fine line - don't want to be condescending by giving him "Astronomy for Dummies", but on the other hand that's the level of understanding he's starting with.

Nebulo

CONCORD traffic reports (1)

HnT (306652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552917)

CONCORD reports heavy inbound jumpgate congestion caused by gangs of Hulks, Skiffs and haulers on their way to get some sweet, sweet ore out of those roids.

In other news... (0, Redundant)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 5 years ago | (#25553093)

Surak tells Kirk "Stop peeking!"

just FYI; in the Trek universe, Vulcan orbits Epsilon Eridani.

Harvester deployed. (1)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25553963)

Sorry, I'm full up on ore.

Can you point me toward a sizeable gas nebula?
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