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A new planet? Whoa there.....

11 Dec 2015, 15:12 UTC
A new planet?  Whoa there.....
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ALMA array finds new member of our solar system?This is the big news hitting the web today: The ALMA array may have detected something big - an Earth sized planet big or bigger sort of big - on the edge of our solar system....but I really need to put the emphasis on 'may' and 'something': Firstly, a lot of people are pointing out that it's a huge coincidence for ALMA, which has a tiny field of view, to have detected this object by pure chance....so either ALMA has been very lucky,or there are a lot of these things, or it's not real - some kind of illusion caused by a problem with the array.Second, as the authors of the paper make clear themselves, it's not at all clear what this thing is, or even how big it is. It's literally just a point on a couple of their scans.Lastly, the paper is a preprint - that means it's a rough draft and hasn't been peer reviewed or accepted for publication by anyone. In other words no-one has independently fact checked it, and that's a HUGE part of good science. Scientific American has good write up on this aspect of it.So watch ...

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