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Two Earth-Sized Bodies With Oxygen-Rich Atmospheres

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the mission-of-gravity dept.

Space 111

tugfoigel writes "Astrophysicists at the University of Warwick and Kiel University have discovered two bodies the size of earth with oxygen-rich atmospheres — however, there is a disappointing snag for anyone looking for a potential home for alien life, or even a future home for ourselves. These are not planets, but are actually two unusual white dwarf stars." The objects, 220 and 400 light-years distant, are believed to be remnants of stars between 7 and 10 solar masses. Such stars, the largest that evolve to white dwarves, have been sought for years. If the stars were a little more massive they would collapse to neutron stars, or so the theory goes. Here is the paper on the arXiv.

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111 comments

That's okay. (3, Funny)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102458)

I bet life forms from these environments would be really hot.

Re:That's okay. (5, Funny)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102538)

And Captain Kirk would still find a way to pork it without spontaneously combusting.

Re:That's okay. (2, Funny)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102568)

[insert Chuck Norris joke here]

Re:That's okay. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30102640)

Steven Segall

Re:That's okay. (1)

rhyder128k (1051042) | more than 4 years ago | (#30105164)

Yeah, if the phenomenon of deep sea giantism can be used as any sort of guide, life forms from that planet will be bigger than Steven Segall is now.

Re:That's okay. (2, Insightful)

Virak (897071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102984)

Better yet, don't. Please.

Re:That's okay. (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103596)

And Captain Kirk would still find a way to pork it without spontaneously combusting.

I wondered where the Horta [wikipedia.org] got its eggs fertilized.

Re:That's okay. (0, Troll)

Antiocheian (859870) | more than 4 years ago | (#30104748)

SHATNEROLOGIST ALERT!

Mod parent down, he is an "OTS" believer from the FCOS. These people roam the world to spread their evil teachings from the First Church of Shatnerology, a corrupt organization that teaches masturbation to its disciples.

For those asking, "who the hell is OTS" -- here you can find the truths: http://www.shatnerology.com/ots.html [shatnerology.com]

Re:That's okay. (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30106822)

Only if Chuck Norris lets him.

The TOW-TURE truck: (-1, Offtopic)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102626)

Synopsis: The tow-ture truck is a vehicle operated by the fire department for the purpose of punishing those who work on their cars in public parking lots. It is driven by stoic surfer-dudes. It has an inverted bed on the back which is full of instruments of torture as well as a robot arm to pull people under for punishment.

Tow-ture truck operator :

This is the tow-ture truck.

[ Two men are tending to a beat-up Chevy Nova in a public parking lot. One of them is under the rear, fixing it, and one is standing to the side of the pickup. The tow-ture truck operator attaches the winch hook to the rear bumper. The man standing to the side of the Nova graps the cable and begins to spin it. When the cable is spun quickly, it smears to the various shapes of the hydrogen wave function [wikimedia.org] when seen from above. ]

Tow-ture truck operator :

First, don't spin my cable,
which is a solution to
the partial differential equations [wikipedia.org]
schroedinger knew

the direction field follows
a blurry twist
which is why, if you can't see it,
it dosen't exist. [wikipedia.org]

[ The winch on the tow-ture truck begins to pull the Nova upwards as the man under it, previously oblivious to the spectacle, says, "what the hell?" as a robot arm extends from under the tow-ture truck and grabs him by is ankle. He is being pulled under the tow-ture truck, enclosed on all sides by metal walls and the ground below. he is trapped under the towture truck when it begins to move slowly... ]

Tow-ture truck operator :

next, we back over you
till you're under the bed
if you cant keep up, the motorized tailgate
will crush your head.

as long as you keep crawling,
I'll go slow enough for you,
but if we vent the coolant plugs
we may turn you to stew.

One more thing --
there's no way...you can crawl out the sides,
50 Kilovolt volt lightning rods
will fry your fuckin' hide!

Re:The TOW-TURE truck: (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102702)

You definitely appear to be ethanol fueled this evening ;).

Re:The TOW-TURE truck: (1)

Alcohol Fueled (603402) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103742)

hmmmm perhaps i am :)

Re:That's okay. (1)

bcat24 (914105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102820)

Oh yeah? Well, your mom is an Earth-sized body with an oxygen-rich atmosphere. If you know what I mean. ;)

Re:That's okay. (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102968)

s/your mom/urmom/

Fixed that for ya ;). Urmom is kind of a cultish thing around my office.

Re:That's okay. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30103122)

Well, they're talking about two Earth-sized bodies, so I guess the other one is ur dad. Take that!

Re:That's okay. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30103082)

One thing that was never adequately explained to me is why can life only be very similar to us? In the sense that it needs oxygen, similar temperatures, and rely on the same energy pathways. For example extremophile, there are even examples that live near vents in the ocean at hundreds of degrees and rely on completely different metabolic pathways.

Re:That's okay. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30103400)

It's a matter of what is best to focus our efforts on. We looks for life in environment similar to ours for two reasons:

Short-term) Life that developed in an environment similar to ours may be similar to us, and therefore we may actually have a chance of noticing it.

Long-term) If we ever do spread out from this planet, then we will be focused on environments most suitable to us.

Posting AC because I've already spent mod points in this thread.

Re:That's okay. (2, Informative)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103604)

All known arrangements of life either consume oxygen or produce it, either way we will find free oxygen anywhere we find such life.

All known arrangements of life depend on liquid water, even in those under-glacier lakes or deep ocean thermal vents, liquid water is necessary. Therefore we will find liquid water anywhere we find such life.

Unless there is some arrangement for life than is fundamentally different from ours, on a molecular level, then oxygen and liquid water will be found anywhere life will be found.

Re:That's okay. (2, Interesting)

blincoln (592401) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103908)

Unless there is some arrangement for life than is fundamentally different from ours, on a molecular level, then oxygen and liquid water will be found anywhere life will be found.

There are a number of other options that have been theorized. I don't know about the alternatives to oxygen (some gaseous form of sulfur, maybe?), but the main ones I remember are substituting silicon for carbon, and ammonia for water. A quick Google search turned up sulfuric acid as another possible solvent. I'm not a chemist - is there a set of two gases based on sulfur that would fill the spots of oxygen and carbon dioxide in a respiration cycle if sulfuric acid were the solvent used by that form of life?

Re:That's okay. (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30106074)

You're wrong.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaerobic_respiration [wikipedia.org]

We have discovered forms of life on this planet that do not require oxygen to live. For some of them, oxygen is actually a poison, and they can't survive in Earth's surface atmosphere. The life forms found around sulfur vents at the bottom of the ocean are an example of anaerobic life, as are some of the species of bacteria found deep within the Earth's crust.

Water is still an important part of the equation, but there are substitutes for Oxygen that life can use instead.

Re:That's okay. (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 4 years ago | (#30107164)

So I am, are there examples of organisms that use anaerobic respiration? The linked article didn't provide any.

Re:That's okay. (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109404)

Yes... off the top of my head I can't give you specific species names, but I remember an episode of Quirks & Quarks on the CBC a few months ago where they interviewed a woman who was talking about the 5 greatest threats to the environment... in it, she mentionned that the so-called "dead zones" in the ocean, where there's a massive algae bloom that ends up dying and sinking to the bottom of the oceans... as it rots, all of the oxygen in the area is taken up by the bacteria doing the decomposing, causing the aquatic life to die off.

As an interesting sideline, they went on to discuss species that didn't need oxygen to survive, and named two specific anaerobic environments where species of bacteria are found that survive on anaerobic respiration, exactly as discussed in the wikipedia article. They did mention the specific taxonomic names, but I don't remember them. The first was a species of bacteria that's found around the sulfur vents at the bottom of the ocean. The second was a species of bacteria that has been found in deep core samples from the earth's crust... the sulfur vent bactera is able to survive in our oxygen-rich atmosphere, but the deep core species is allergic to oxygen and will actually die on contact with it.

They think that both of those species are examples of the kind of life that first evolved on Earth... way back in the beginning, we had an anaerobic atmosphere... it was only over the course of the first few billion years that species of bacteria respired enough oxygen as a waste product that species evolved to be able to take advantage of oxygen-based respiration.

Re:That's okay. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30104116)

...and I'm certain that the Tim Burtonesque animation character-for-a-head, one Heat Miser Al Gore is all ready to jump into this with "indisputable evidence" revealing an "increase of green house gases" on these bodies due to some comical human causation. ("An Inconvenient Distance" available now at book stores nationwide at $34.99 folks!")

bummer... (1)

adosch (1397357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102504)

Now that my future family dream to live on a white dwarf star has been crushed... my only hope is that black midget stars are better.

Re:bummer... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30102544)

my only hope is that black midget porn stars are better at cumming in my anus multiple times.

FTFY

Re:bummer... (3, Informative)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102562)

There's already one rule 34 [urbandictionary.com] response to your comment; I anticipate more are on the way.

Re:bummer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30103306)

There's already one rule 34 [urbandictionary.com] response to your comment; I anticipate more are on the way.

This reminds me of last week when I discovered two oxygen rich white dwarves on your mom!

nomenclature (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30102542)

In the image SDSS 1102+2054 looks blue. Shouldn't we call them blue dwarfs? Or should we call them smurfs?

Re:nomenclature (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102612)

Ach crivens! Whut aboot us, ye daftie?

Re:nomenclature (1)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103010)

Consider this the "Crossin' o' th' Arms."

Re:nomenclature (1)

Samrobb (12731) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103062)

Ach! Waily, waily! 'Tis the Tappin' o' th' Feet next!

Re:nomenclature (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103644)

Ach! An' me withou' me mod-points! I'll kick meself in the heid!

Re:nomenclature (4, Funny)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102768)

Shouldn't we call them blue dwarfs

That was the initial idea, but unfortunately there were already numerous related trademarks held by the porn industry.

Deceptive headlines (5, Insightful)

prakslash (681585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102550)

This is a perfect example of how deceptive headlines get created.

Original paper title: "Two white dwarfs with oxygen-rich atmospheres"
The newspaper headline: "2 Earth-sized bodies with oxygen rich atmospheres found- but they're stars not planets"
Slashdot headline: "Two Earth-Sized Bodies With Oxygen-Rich Atmospheres"

The submitter could have simply stated "Two white dwarf stars with oxygen-rich atmospheres" but then who would have clicked further.

Re:Deceptive headlines (4, Insightful)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102610)

Feel manipulated? Watch the news on TV or read a newspaper when you really want to be manipulated.

Re:Deceptive headlines (4, Funny)

ozbird (127571) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102880)

I prefer a chiropractor.

Re:Deceptive headlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30103476)

I prefer a masseuse, if you catch my drift.

Posting AC just in case my wife reads Slashdot today...

Re:Deceptive headlines (2, Informative)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30105856)

I prefer a chiropractor.

Try an osteopath - they've really studied their subject and are practically specialist doctors. Chiropractors are masseurs that like to take risks.

Re:Deceptive headlines (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30106096)

Osteopaths can be hard to find in some parts of the world... I'm seeing one right now for a shoulder that was dislocated, and he's very good... he's also the only one that's currently practicing in the city, possibly the province, and has a waitlist of several months in some cases.

You don't tend to find Osteopaths in North America.

Re:Deceptive headlines (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30106884)


Out of curiosity whereabouts are you, if you don't mind my asking? We actually have a, well, surplus is the wrong word but, we have a lot of upcoming osteopaths in the UK that are outpacing the number of practices in some regions. I'm just thinking that if there is a shortage over there, then it might be an opportunity for some. Though if people over there don't grasp the difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor, then that might hold things back...

Re:Deceptive headlines (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109454)

I'm in Ottawa, Ontario... and yeah, feel free to send them over... Pierre, the guy I'm seeing, trained in England and France, but is originally Canadian.

It's not that people don't understand the difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor... it's that most people haven't even heard of an osteopath. The fact that your private supplementary insurance will usually cover an osteopath in the same category that it covers physiotherapy and chiropractors is irrelevant... most people buying that kind of thing don't look at what they *could* get, they look to make sure it covers what they *want* to get.

I only found out about osteopaths because my mum took a cruise on a Cunard ship (the QM-2), and was having trouble with her knee... the ship had an osteopath on board to whom she was referred. If it hadn't been for that cruise, I probably never would have found out that osteopaths exist... they're just not something the public is aware of over here.

Re:Deceptive headlines (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103298)

Feel manipulated?

Remember the first rule of journalism: "It's always better to manipulate than never."

Re:Deceptive headlines (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30104544)

That manipulation does not make this manipulation any better.

Classic fallacy!

Re:Deceptive headlines (2, Insightful)

trytoguess (875793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30104786)

I watch the news on occasion. Problem is, this headline is on par with the worst sensationalism mass media has to offer.

Re:Deceptive headlines (5, Funny)

Alsee (515537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102832)

In related news SETI Has Detected Intelligent Radio Signals From Space.

They are currently working on better methods to filter out the earth TV broadcasts being reflected back from the moon.

-

Re:Deceptive headlines (4, Funny)

Gerafix (1028986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102966)

I don't see how TV broadcasts could be considered signs of intelligent life.

Re:Deceptive headlines (3, Funny)

Alsee (515537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103216)

It was a Fox News with a ShamWow commercial.

-

Re:Deceptive headlines (0, Troll)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103020)

This is a perfect example of how deceptive headlines get created.

Never underestimate the power of really stupid people who are profoundly ignorant of the subject they report on.

The "earth sized body" is a pure fiction, as near as I can tell. The radius is not explicitly stated in the paper, and the estimated masses are around one solar mass, which means they are no where near earth-sized. Some ignoramous just made that up, and the highly-paid /-tard editors passed it on, stripping the tiny bit of correct information from the original PR headline.

Re:Deceptive headlines (3, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103972)

the estimated masses are around one solar mass, which means they are no where near earth-sized

From the Wiki article [wikipedia.org] : "[White dwarfs] are very dense; a white dwarf's mass is comparable to that of the Sun and its volume is comparable to that of the Earth."

Be very careful about calling other people stupid when you're about to say something demonstrably false.

Re:Deceptive headlines (5, Interesting)

ericbg05 (808406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30104060)

The radius is not explicitly stated in the paper, and the estimated masses are around one solar mass, which means they are no where near earth-sized.

Wrong. WDs are *ridiculously* dense, with a rho of about 10^6 g/cm^3, so a 1M_sun WD has a volume of like 2*10^31 cubic meters, which means the radius is around 8000 kilometers. R_earth is about 6400 kilometers, so Earth is actually really useful to get an intuitive picture of how these guys look.

The cool thing about WDs is that they shrink in volume when you add mass. Which means they get denser the more mass you add. Even cooler is that lots of them are in a co-orbit with other stars in a binary system, and they steal mass from the other star, so it's not so strange to see WDs gaining mass and getting denser over time.

It turns out there is one special mass at which the electron degeneracy pressure [wikipedia.org] holding the star up is not enough to fight the force of gravity pushing it inward. (This mass is about 1.4 times the mass of the sun, depending on whether the star is rotating.) At that point the thing collapses from the size of earth to about the size of a soccer ball in less than a second, generating one of the most spectacular explosions in nature. I mean this thing is blown apart at around 3% of the speed of light and is 5 billion times brighter than the sun.

This is called a "type Ia supernova" -- a pretty boring name for what is, technically speaking, the awesomest thing in the universe.

Re:Deceptive headlines (1)

GNious (953874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30105260)

[..] it's not so strange to see WDs gaining mass and getting denser over time.

Ah, these are American in origin?

Re:Deceptive headlines (2, Funny)

pavon (30274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30105520)

Naw, dense would imply large amounts of muscle mass and little fat, so they can't be American :P

Schwarzschild radius (4, Informative)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#30105578)

At that point the thing collapses from the size of earth to about the size of a soccer ball in less than a second

Not quite so small, as the Schwarzschild radius [wikipedia.org] of the sun is about 3 km.

Actually, it's believed that type 1A supernovae do not reach gravitational collapse [wikipedia.org] , they explode in a runaway carbon fusion before reaching the Chandrasekar limit. It's type II supernovae [wikipedia.org] that explode the way you mention.

neutron star (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30105784)

Isn't there the neutron star between the white dwarf and the black hole?

Re:Deceptive headlines (3, Informative)

AniVisual (1373773) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103158)

Pish, putting a spin on things is old news. If you own a NIV Bible, congrats, you already own a book where theologians twist the source material to censor embarrassing verses.

Take Songs 5:4 for example:

Young's Literal Version
My beloved sent his hand from the net-work[probably something with threads], And my bowels were moved for him.
New International Version
My lover thrust his hand through the latch-opening; my heart began to pound for him.
The Interpretation
Read it yourself here [bible.cc] .

It's like taking "You idiot, you aren't wearing a condom!" and publishing it as "Dear, your pen is uncapped." on the virtue that "pen is" remotely looks like "penis" which, when substituted, gives a meaning similar to the original.

Re:Deceptive headlines (1)

FatherDale (1535743) | more than 4 years ago | (#30104460)

Exactly. I thought it was gonna be about fat chicks.

Re:Deceptive headlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30107098)

-1 No Sense of Humor

If there is intelligent life... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30102594)

given the gravity they're likely to be really short and with really bad backs.

Earth sized stars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30102598)

I thought that stars would have to be a lot heavier than that, even if a large part of them was blown away in a supernova.

Re:Earth sized stars? (2, Informative)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102698)

Do you mean bigger? White dwarfs are all fairly close to the earth in size. They are still far more massive, however A white dwarf probably retains 70-80% of the mass of the original star... 5-7 solar masses in this case. These are apparently near the border area, not quite massive enough to crush the space out of their atoms and become a neutron star. A neutron star is way smaller... with a radius of 10km or less.

Re:Earth sized stars? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30103578)

The upper limit on a white dwarf's mass is the Chandrasekhar limit (roughly 1.4 solar masses); The paper posits that the two dwarfs in question have masses of .9-1.2 solar masses.

Re:Earth sized stars? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30104028)

Reading the paper you can see these white dwarfs are a lot less massive than that. About 1 solar mass.
Chandrasekhar limit says the electron degeneracy pressure can only hold up a white dwarf of up to about 1.4 solar masses, anything bigger becomes a neutron star. At the range you're talking about (5-7 solar masses) you're probably looking at black holes.

White dwarfs are a lot heavier than earth, but due to their immense gravity they compress themselves into a size not much larger than a terrestrial planet. Interestingly, the more massive white dwarves can be smaller. There is a relation that holds over a reasonable range of masses in that mass multiplied by volume will be a constant.

Cough, Cough... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30102624)

Ever heard of the Smoke Ring??

Cough, cough.

Man...

white dwarfs not white dwarves (3, Informative)

AstroMatt (1594081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102650)

"White dwarfs" is the proper plural form when talking about more than one white dwarf star.

Re:white dwarfs not white dwarves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30102694)

Actually, I think you'll find it's "Whites dwarf"

Re:white dwarfs not white dwarves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30103882)

Heheh. Like "sergeants major" and "inspectors general" that nobody actually says ;)

Re:white dwarfs not white dwarves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30102748)

The real historical plural of dwarf is dwarrows. Dwarves is bad grammar, but is in common enough usage that it's pointless to argue. "Dwarfs" just makes you look illiterate, as if you spelled the plural of fish as "fishs."

Re:white dwarfs not white dwarves (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30103080)

The real historical plural of dwarf is dwarrows. Dwarves is bad grammar, but is in common enough usage that it's pointless to argue. "Dwarfs" just makes you look illiterate, as if you spelled the plural of fish as "fishs."

The preference for Dwarves instead of Dwarfs is actually fairly recent. In the foreword for The Hobbit, Tolkein comments that in English the only correct pluralisation of Dwarf is Dwarfs, but that he uses Dwarves "only when speaking of the ancient people to whom Thorin Oakenshield and his companions belonged".

So either Dwarves or Dwarfs would be correct, as both have been in common usage in living memory, but Dwarrows wouldn't exactly count as modern English.

Re:white dwarfs not white dwarves (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30103292)

No, astromatt's understanding of the rules of grammar is correct. Because "White Dwarf" refers to an entity unrelated to a "dwarf", it's pluralised as a proper noun (which generally ignores suffix manipulation). If you knew two people named "Dwarf", you wouldn't say "the two dwarves" (which would only be valid if Dwarf and Dwarf were very short and you were intentionally pointing it out), you'd say "the two Dwarfs".

Re:white dwarfs not white dwarves (2, Funny)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103684)

No, astromatt's understanding of the rules of grammar is correct. Because "White Dwarf" refers to an entity unrelated to a "dwarf", it's pluralised as a proper noun (which generally ignores suffix manipulation). If you knew two people named "Dwarf", you wouldn't say "the two dwarves" (which would only be valid if Dwarf and Dwarf were very short and you were intentionally pointing it out), you'd say "the two Dwarfs".

I'm not a master of the finer nitpicks of the English language, but "white dwarf" is not a name - it's a class like being a star, pulsar, planet, asteroid, meteorite, comet or whatever. Try reading something like a Star Trek science report to yourself "Three pulars, two supernovas, two neutron stars and five white dwarves." No way are those "White Dwarf", "White Dwarf", "White Dwarf", "White Dwarf" and "White Dwarf" as in the "five White Dwarfs".

Re:white dwarfs not white dwarves (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103718)

The real historical plural of dwarf is dwarrows.

You are aware that Tolkien was writing fiction when he wrote that, are you?

Re:white dwarfs not white dwarves (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103832)

You are aware Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon linguistics at Oxford, and wrote numerous papers on the Anglo-Saxon and earlier roots of just such words as Dwarf, aren't you. The quote you are characterising as fiction appears in his lecture notes to students and in substantially the same form in one of his scholarly publications. As one of the world's top half dozen leading experts in the field, it is to be hoped his instruction was not entirely fictional despite your claim.

Re:white dwarfs not white dwarves (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103906)

Yes, yes, Tolkien was a noted philologist with plenty of knowledge about real-world languages... who had a huge hobby of making up fictional ones.

In fact, middle-earth was something of an afterthought... a place to put all those interesting fictional languages and pair them up with other fictional cultures.

While "dwarrow" is a logical, grammatical way to pluralize "dwarf" I still maintain that the word is a Tolkien invention.

I would be very interested if someone could provide an citation of the word "Dwarrow" from a pre-Tolkien source. ...Oh, and English is my second language, so there's no need to go Grammar-nazi on me, eh?

Re:white dwarfs not white dwarves (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 4 years ago | (#30106764)

Middle Earth may have been a fictional place in Tolkeins works, but it was very real to the Anglo Saxons who originated the term. Heaven is above, the underworld is beneath - the place where we all live is in the middle, hence middle earth.

so can we gate to them? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102696)

so can we gate to them?

Re:so can we gate to them? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30102812)

Nearly all your comments are Stargate based. Seriously dude, you need a life.

Re:so can we gate to them? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102914)

He had, in his original planet. Now just try to find a gate back.

Re:so can we gate to them? (1)

Z1NG (953122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103078)

you're just mad you lost your DHD.

Re:so can we gate to them? (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103240)

The second you step through that stargate is the second you become "Chunky Salsa" on the gate ramp. Try again....

I for one... (1)

dandart (1274360) | more than 4 years ago | (#30102792)

hope there's adequate parking space!

White dwarfs' salvation lies in our hands (1)

cupantae (1304123) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103094)

It is man's destiny to save these stars from eternal, er, hellfire?

This... (1)

Braintrust (449843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103102)

...explains Kryptonian physiology.

Re:This... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103142)

I don't think a white dwarf can orbit a red giant. Rather the opposite, I would guess, if the configuration is at all possible.

Re:This... (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103460)

The red giant would tend to be more massive, so the white dwarf would orbit it.

Re:This... (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30106290)

Strictly speaking, since they're both exerting gravity on each other, and neither is stationary, they're actually orbitting each other... But that's getting pedantic.

But to the GP, it's worth pointing out that a White Dwarf has a theoretical upper limit on size of about 1.4 solar masses, whereas the Giant and Supergiant stars are typically between 10-80 solar masses, sometimes significantly bigger. The Pistol Star, for example, in Saggitarius, is estimated to possibly be as much as 150 solar masses. :)

Re:This... (1)

niktemadur (793971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30106518)

To be as precise as possible, any two objects orbit each other on an axis called the barycenter, which may lie within the more massive object, but it's there nonetheless.

When We Finally Find Them (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103110)

When we do find a planet fairly like Earth, will we then finally be able to stop having news stories that start off making noises about "Earth-like" but quickly devolve into "having one characteristic that can be compared to Earth, such as a particular element, but in all other respects are entirely unlike Earth"? This particular story was perfectly good without the bogus 'grabber'.

Re:When We Finally Find Them (2, Funny)

Exception Duck (1524809) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103266)

Yes, this is causing a huge strain on news stories and an overall problem to humankind.
Please let us find new planets so the stories about false positives can stop.

Suck it up Space Cowboy (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103194)

At least you got air to breathe and it's not a neutron star......

Never mind the bone pulverizing gravity and the extreme heat, 1 out of three earth like conditions is enough for anyone.....

Re:Suck it up Space Cowboy (1)

LtGordon (1421725) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103922)

At least you got air to breathe and it's not a neutron star......

Even if we found another planet whose atmosphere contained oxygen, human beings require a pretty specific concentration of oxygen to breathe unassisted. Too highly concentrated and you get oxygen poisoning [wikipedia.org] , not concentrated enough and you get lack-of-oxygen poisoning [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Suck it up Space Cowboy (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#30105544)

But at least, in an oxygen-containing atmosphere, it should be possible to create an inside atmosphere with just the right amount of oxygen with relatively simple technology. Especially if the oxygen level is too high, it should be trivial (assuming the air outside is not otherwise poisonous): Simply replace a smaller amount of inside air (with too little oxygen, because people consumed it) with outside air.

If you want to have a warm winter, (-1, Offtopic)

coolforsale132 (1678812) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103212)

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apartment on the sun (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103324)

"oh please do you know how much an apartment that size on the sun would cost?"

Why does this preclude life? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103426)

Why does this preclude alien life?

Re:Why does this preclude life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30103566)

> Why does this preclude alien life?

From TFA:

"These surface abundances of oxygen imply that these are white dwarfs displaying their bare oxygen-neon cores, and that they may have descended from the most massive progenitors stars in that class."

Well, for starters, as afar as this system is concerned, it would have had to evolve in a stellar core, and next up, it would have a hell of a time doing chemsistry in an atmosphere consisting of oxygen and a noble gas that doesn't react with anything.

Interesting question, though... how long does a white dwarf take to cool off?

Unlike the conventional carbon-core, hydrogen/helium atmosphere, this thing would have a gaseous atmosphere.

Given the mass and diameter involved, you're probably looking at degenerate matter, so it'd still be solid, but I wonder if an O2/Ne atmosphere could exist on such a body after a few billion (tens of billions?) years of cooling off?

If we learn anything from past experiences.. (1)

tangent3 (449222) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103698)

Do not colonize the planet after a terrorist sets off a nuclear device nearby.

Re:If we learn anything from past experiences.. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#30105570)

Do not colonize the planet after a terrorist sets off a nuclear device nearby.

I'd guess it's more dangerous to colonize a planet before a terrorists sets off a nuclear device nearby. Because in that case, you're there when the nuclear device is set off.

White Dwarfs are real. (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#30103708)

Gnome saying? [youtube.com]

Pssh you guys don't take anything. (1)

tengeta (1594989) | more than 4 years ago | (#30104498)

Give it a chance, let the shit cool off and were good to go. Get to work on the space ships, and we might need a ton of water bottles.
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