Telescopes find evidence for asteroid belt around Vega

Jan 08, 2013
This artist's concept illustrates an asteroid belt around the bright star Vega. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

(Phys.org)—Astronomers have discovered what appears to be a large asteroid belt around the star Vega, the second brightest star in northern night skies. The scientists used data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory, in which NASA plays an important role.

The discovery of an asteroid belt-like band of debris around Vega makes the star similar to another observed star called Fomalhaut. The data are consistent with both stars having inner, warm belts and outer, cool belts separated by a gap. This architecture is similar to the asteroid and Kuiper belts in our own solar system.

What is maintaining the gap between the warm and cool belts around Vega and Fomalhaut? The results strongly suggest the answer is multiple planets. Our solar system's asteroid belt, which lies between Mars and Jupiter, is maintained by the gravity of the and the , and the outer is sculpted by the giant planets.

"Our findings echo recent results showing multiple-planet systems are common beyond our sun," said Kate Su, an astronomer at the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Su presented the results Tuesday at the meeting in Long Beach, Calif., and is lead author of a paper on the findings accepted for publication in the .

Astronomers have discovered what appears to be a large asteroid belt around the bright star Vega, as illustrated here at left in brown. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Vega and Fomalhaut are similar in other ways. Both are about twice the mass of our sun and burn a hotter, bluer color in visible light. Both stars are relatively nearby, at about 25 light-years away. The stars are thought to be around 400 million years old, but Vega could be closer to its 600 millionth birthday. Fomalhaut has a single candidate planet orbiting it, Fomalhaut b, which orbits at the inner edge of its cometary belt.

The Herschel and Spitzer telescopes detected emitted by warm and in discrete bands around Vega and Fomalhaut, discovering the new around Vega and confirming the existence of the other belts around both stars. Comets and the collisions of rocky chunks replenish the dust in these bands. The inner belts in these systems cannot be seen in visible light because the glare of their stars outshines them.

This false-color composite image, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, reveals the orbital motion of the planet Fomalhaut b. Based on these observations, astronomers calculated that the planet is in a 2,000-year-long, highly elliptical orbit. The planet will appear to cross a vast belt of debris around the star roughly 20 years from now. If the planet's orbit lies in the same plane with the belt, icy and rocky debris in the belt could crash into the planet's atmosphere and produce various phenomena. The black circle at the center of the image blocks out the light from the bright star, allowing reflected light from the belt and planet to be photographed. The Hubble images were taken with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph in 2010 and 2012. Credit: NASA, ESA, and P. Kalas (University of California, Berkeley and SETI Institute)

Both the inner and outer belts contain far more material than our own asteroid and Kuiper belts. The reason is twofold: the star systems are far younger than our own, which has had hundreds of millions more years to clean house, and the systems likely formed from an initially more massive cloud of gas and dust than our solar system.

The gap between the inner and outer debris belts for Vega and Fomalhaut also proportionally corresponds to the distance between our sun's asteroid and Kuiper belts. This distance works out to a ratio of about 1:10, with the outer belt 10 times farther from its host star than the inner belt. As for the large gap between the two belts, it is likely there are several undetected planets, Jupiter-size or smaller, creating a dust-free zone between the two belts. A good comparison star system is HR 8799, which has four known planets that sweep up the space between two similar disks of debris.

"Overall, the large gap between the warm and the cold belts is a signpost that points to multiple planets likely orbiting around Vega and Fomalhaut," said Su.

If unseen planets do, in fact, orbit Vega and Fomalhaut, these bodies will not likely stay hidden.

"Upcoming new facilities such as NASA's James Webb Space Telescope should be able to find the planets," said paper co-author Karl Stapelfeldt, chief of the Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

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baudrunner
1.8 / 5 (20) Jan 08, 2013
Bingo! Fomalhaut has a planet in a long elliptical orbit with a period of 2,000 years, and an asteroid belt. For the sake of discussion we will say that Sol also has a planet with a long elliptical orbit of 3,600 years (Nibiru), and an asteroid belt. The discussion then turns to intelligent design with respect to the formation of our solar sytem, in that the process is given an assist by colliding Earth with Nibiru's moon while the solar system is still in a nascent stage. Earth is given a favorable orbit for nurturing life, so we can presume that Fomalhaut also has a world which has been given a favorable orbit for nurturing life - if we can accept that intelligent design only pushes the odds in favor of life, then continues to nurture it with the occasional assist. That's a tough call, but I'm actually beginning to like the idea.

What motivates the intelligent designers is probably greed. Here it is power and gold. Probably everywhere else, too.
ekim
4.6 / 5 (10) Jan 09, 2013
The universe is a vast, cold, inhospitable emptiness. Intelligent design created all that emptiness? Why not create a more hospitable environment? There exists 7 other planets in our solar system alone. Why not make life on those? There are many environments on our planet, in which humans cannot live. That much wasted space seems less than a intelligent use of resources. The only greed that exists is that of religions trying to convince their followers that theirs is the one true path, out of hundreds of religions, worthy of devotion and donations.
kevinrtrs
2.1 / 5 (26) Jan 09, 2013
The reason is twofold: the star systems are far younger than our own, which has had hundreds of millions more years to clean house, and the systems likely formed from an initially more massive cloud of gas and dust than our solar system.


The millions of years so happily strewn about here is pure fiction.
There is no scientifically justifiable supporting evidence that the star system is so much older than our own.
WHY? Because no one has been around that long to observe that it is indeed so much older. Any statement therefore regarding age of any kind is purely theoretical speculation which has no observational support whatsoever.
ASk yourself this - firstly, how does one determine the age of anything? Unless one has an eye-witness account e.g. in the form of a birth certificate for human beings or recorded observations by a reputable person, any other way to determine age is speculative.
Secondly, how does one determine the age of something that is light years away?
antialias_physorg
4.6 / 5 (11) Jan 09, 2013
ASk yourself this - firstly, how does one determine the age of anything? Unless one has an eye-witness account e.g. in the form of a birth certificate

Eyewitness accounts are the worst/least trustworthy form of evidence. Ever had a book of optical illusions? Or played the telephone game? There you go.
WHY? Because no one has been around that long to observe that it is indeed so much older.

By that 'logic' you shouldn't believe in god or creation. Because no one was around back then to see either.

Secondly, how does one determine the age of something that is light years away?

We know how the funamental forces work. It's a simple excercise in energy conversion. You look at the light and you know the composition (via absorption/emission lines). You look at the size and the brightness and you can figure out the mass.
From that point it's just a matter of extrapolating backwards.

Laws of physics don't change willy-nilly (unlike eyewitness testament)
alfie_null
4.5 / 5 (8) Jan 09, 2013
Unless one has an eye-witness account ...

This is not how science works. This is not, in fact, how many things work.

Kevin doesn't understand science. He doesn't seem to be willing to understand science. From his previous posts, his view is driven by his particular interpretation of the Christian Bible. His purpose here seems to be to sow confusion and doubt among other participants.
gmurphy
2.6 / 5 (12) Jan 09, 2013
Kevin's intellectual cowardice prevents him from perceiving the universe as a mechanical uncaring construct. His is the reaction of a child struggling to cope with the realisation that Santa is not real.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (2) Jan 09, 2013
Creationists shouldn't comment on science, it is hilarious and makes deconverts from religion, see Dawkins's Convert's Corner.

Of course these science results are testable and without speculation, that is precisely why they are published. Of course we observe systems that have been around for cosmological times, the CMB for example, and geological times, the U/Pb radioisotopes for example, so are direct observational data. For some systems there is even no constraints at all, such as the Sm isochron clock system, so are highly certain eye-witness accounts.

_Evereyone_ should know that cosmological redshift of light correlates with relative age. If not, they can read Wikipedia on it, it's cosmology 101.
VendicarD
3 / 5 (8) Jan 09, 2013
First one observes tens of thousands of stars, classifies them and notes how their luminosity and color changes over time.

Then one uses spectroscopy to measure the relative abundance of elements in the star's composition.

One then creates a physics model of a star with such elemental composition and computes it's lifetime.

One does so for stars of differing mass and compositions.

Then one applies to results of the model to the real world to estimat the age of the star in question.

"Secondly, how does one determine the age of something that is light years away?" - KevinTard

Kevin will never understand science.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (21) Jan 09, 2013
There is no scientifically justifiable supporting evidence that the star system is so much older than our own.
YEAH there IS but you just refuse to accept it. It is as very clear as a footprint in the mud.

I am starting to think that you are just not very clever kev. After all, who rejects evidence in favor of faith? Who believes that faith will allow them to walk through traffic even though the evidence tells them this is a bad idea?

Faith kills you know. This is actually why it was invented, to get people like you to do things that they would normally avoid at all costs. Like kill strangers, and line up to be killed by strangers, on the battlefield.

Your recalcitrance is only a less extreme expression of this cleverly-devised insanity.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.8 / 5 (20) Jan 09, 2013
Unless one has an eye-witness account e.g. in the form of a birth certificate for human beings or recorded observations by a reputable person, any other way to determine age is speculative.
We come across a tree in the wilderness. We are sure that nobody was around to see that tree grow. But we can tell how old it is by cutting it down and counting the rings, because others who HAVE watched similar trees grow have told us that tree rings are reliable EVIDENCE of the age of a tree.

This is similar to the way that scientists determine the age of things.

How about that kev? That make any sense to you at all? (silence)
Unless one has an eye-witness account e.g. in the form of a birth certificate for human beings or recorded observations by a reputable person, any other way to determine age is speculative.
You have got to realize by now that this is a lie. Why do you keep foisting it?

The hallmark of sanity is the ability to learn new things. Time for a checkup I think.
VendicarD
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 09, 2013
Why would God put an asteroid belt around Vega?
Lurker2358
1.6 / 5 (7) Jan 09, 2013
Why would God put an asteroid belt around Vega?


Why wouldn't he?!
Wjones
3 / 5 (3) Jan 09, 2013
How can it be that such learned individuals are so completely incapable of recognizing when they are being manipulated by a troll?
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.2 / 5 (26) Jan 09, 2013
How can it be that such learned individuals are so completely incapable of recognizing when they are being manipulated by a troll?
Hello noob

Religionists regularly show up here and try to assert that science is dangerous and should be abolished in favor of whatever sect they belong to and its particular vision of the cosmos. Kevin is a stellar example.

It is very important that this activity be addressed as it is a danger to science and to our survival.
Why wouldn't he?!
Because he doesnt exist.
Phil DePayne
1 / 5 (3) Jan 12, 2013
At least he agress the sun is a star
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.2 / 5 (17) Jan 12, 2013
At least he agress the sun is a star
Little does he realize that his religion is only one of many conceived in honor of that particular star. Jesus is one of many son/sun gods.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.2 / 5 (17) Jan 12, 2013
The evidence is pretty conclusive
http://www.youtub...a_player
thematrix606
1 / 5 (1) Jan 15, 2013
The universe is a vast, cold, inhospitable emptiness. Intelligent design created all that emptiness? Why not create a more hospitable environment? There exists 7 other planets in our solar system alone. Why not make life on those? There are many environments on our planet, in which humans cannot live. That much wasted space seems less than a intelligent use of resources. The only greed that exists is that of religions trying to convince their followers that theirs is the one true path, out of hundreds of religions, worthy of devotion and donations.


By your logic, all our games(or anything else for that matter) should include some super efficient model of space. Yet they don't. Ponder on that for a second, and rethink that argument.

It's quite funny to see people support such stupid ideas.

Your argument is pretty much saying: intelligence is simple, logical and understandable by a lesser creature, and MUST follow certain patterns (in your case structure).
ekim
not rated yet Jan 15, 2013
Your argument is pretty much saying: intelligence is simple, logical and understandable by a lesser creature, and MUST follow certain patterns (in your case structure).

My argument is that the universe is simple, logical and understandable by intelligent creatures, and DOES follow certain patterns (in all cases structure).
As humanity pushes the boundaries of our understanding, from the smallest to the largest the universe has to offer, we find structure on all levels. This structure, large and small follows rules that intelligent beings comprehend (ie. E=mc2). This is the study of the natural world through science. Religion relies on the supernatural and lack of structure or rules. As science expands our knowledge of the universe, religion retreats to the fringes of our current understanding in order to survive. Luckily, this expansion has brought prosperity to our species allowing us to thrive.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Jan 15, 2013
As humanity pushes the boundaries of our understanding, from the smallest to the largest the universe has to offer, we find structure on all levels.

Careful. We are evolved to make use of PERCEIVED patterns. Whether these patterns are there or not is another thing. That is a view that has served us well, but that ONLY is reliable on a certain order of magnitude. Go to quantum mechanical levels and it starts to fail. The universe isn't deteministic on those levels.
Another example is our perception of linear time. Since Einstein we know that is a highly unreliable notion (and contingent on your frame of reference)

Going from "all we see is logical/understandeable" to "the universe MUST be logical/understandeable" is not a conclusion that is certain (it's not out of the question, either).

Science over religion, to be sure - but never forget that science is a tool, not a philosophical road to 'truth'.

baudrunner
3.3 / 5 (7) Jan 15, 2013
I propose an intelligent design scenario and all of a sudden I'm preaching religion; intelligent design of the entire universe; creationism..?!?!

No, I'm just saying that the possibility exists that intervention gave rise to life on some other worlds, without which there might not be life there. Not the whole universe, not religion, no creator. Jeeze!