Ant Attack! Insects Swarm Australian Ring-Hunting Telescope

A swarm of ants invaded the bRing telescope in Australia, temporarily shutting down observations of tens of thousands of stars. Credit: Ian Adams/Michael Kennedy/Siding Springs Observatory
A swarm of ants attacked a small telescope in Australia earlier this year, and when they died, their tiny corpses blew out the power supply.

By Nola Taylor Redd |

The Australian Beta Pictoris b Ring instrument (bRing-AU) was part of a fleet of instruments used last year to hunt for signs of rings or an exomoon around Beta Pictoris, a young star hosting at least one planet. While the hunt was unsuccessful, astronomers are continuing to monitor the star, along with tens of thousands of other stellar targets in the southern sky to obtain additional science.

The ants didn’t make waves climbing on the exterior of the instrument. According to Samuel Mellon, a doctoral candidate at the University of Rochester who is working with bRing, the telescope sits on a few bricks to elevate it off the ground, with an aluminum sheet attached to serve as a floor. That may have provided the point of entry for the insects. [Alien Comets of Star Beta Pictoris Explained (Infographic)]

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