Sunday, September 24, 2006

Vega Star System

For the last 350 million years the Vega Star has beamed in our night sky, in Constellation Lyra only 25 lightyears away. It has survived, its planets however, have not. An extraordinary swirling cloud of debris and dust surrounds Vega, as observed by the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope. This disk of dust encircles the star, where once planets orbited smoothly.

Less than a million years ago, doom hit the vega system, which was to signal the end of the embryonic planet formation process and Mankinds forebears incidentally, the human and apelike equivilent on Earth (australopithecines) were no longer swinging through the trees looking for lunch because they had gone extinct. The image below depicts two embryonic planets impacting. This one collision had dire consequences for the neighbouring planets around the Vega star.


Image Credit: NASA / JPL - Caltech

These young planets spent millions of years growing. All was well in Constellation Lyra, until that fateful day, when an embryonic planet fell out of orbit, or a number of them smashed together which astronomers believe, the end result being the most destructive, explosive, collision ever to defeat Vega's planetary System since its creation.

Scientists believe that the first smash, set off a casscade of collisions, which created the disk. The debris from the first impact, collided with the remaining planets. It was like a doomsday machine, which once started, there was no stopping it. Today with the help of the Spitzer Telescope and the Vega Star, we can see the aftermath of the remaining wrecked planet debris and dust, which will in time spread and dissipate into the vast expanse of darkness. What took millions of years to create, will dissapear forever into the mysterious jaws of space.

Thanks for reading this far, keep on Trekking!

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