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Re: "giant molecular clouds"

Subject: Re: "giant molecular clouds"
From: Steve Willner
Date: 14 Mar 2006 13:16:36 -0500
Newsgroups: sci.astro
In article <dv3est$9vp$1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>,
 spope33@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx (Steve Pope) writes:
> I'm particularly interested in
> whether there specific evidence that a GMC has passed by on
> average every 500 million years, or if this is an extrapolation
> of some sort.

I'd guess it's a statistical estimate from knowing how many GMCs
there are and how fast things are moving.  If so, it's probably good
to a factor of two or so unless there's a mistake.  ("Passed by" is
vague; one would have to have a precise definition to do a
calculation.  However, at first glance that encounter rate looks high
to me.)  It isn't obvious to me what evidence there would be for a
specific GMC passage.  Maybe there would be something in the
radioisotope record?  Absent some signpost, correlating GMC passage
with specific mass extinction events seems impossible.

Where did you read about all this?  Do they give any quantitative
information?  If not, I'd tend to place it in the category of
"speculation" rather than anything more substantial.

-- 
Steve Willner            Phone 617-495-7123     swillner@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA                 
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