Star Tribune: NASA's new planet-hunting telescope finds two new mystery objects, unlike stars or planets (Hat tip: Fungus)
"The universe keeps making strange things stranger than we can think of in our imagination," said Jon Morse, head of astrophysics for NASA.Unlike stars or planets, planets, or stars?
The new discoveries don't quite fit into any definition of known astronomical objects, and so far don't have a classification of their own. Details about the mystery objects were presented Monday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington.
For now, NASA researcher Jason Rowe, who found the objects, said he calls them "hot companions."
How hot? Try 26,000 degrees Fahrenheit. That's hot enough to melt lead or iron.
There are two leading theories for what the objects might be and those theories cover both ends of the cosmic life cycle:
_Rowe suggests they are newly born planets. New planets have extremely high temperatures, and in this case Rowe speculates they might be only about 200 million years old.
_Ronald Gilliland of the Space Telescope Science Institute says they could be white dwarf stars that are dying and stripping off their outer shells and shrinking.
"This is shaping up to be one of those historic battles in science. There are people who believe one thing. There are people who believe another. There are people who believe everything, and people who don't know what to believe. It's quite a mess." -- Thomas Kaye, paleontologist, October 9th 2008