Rocky Finding -- Evidence of Extrasolar Asteroid Belt

January 6, 2007

Providing the best evidence yet for an asteroid belt beyond the solar system, new measurements pinpoint the location of such a disk of warm dust surrounding the star Zeta Leporis. As the January 6, 2007 issue of Science News reports, this dust lies about the same distance from Zeta Leporis as the solar system’s asteroid belt lies from the sun. Margaret M. Moerchen and Charles M. Telesco and their colleagues at the University of Florida in Gainesville report these findings in an upcoming Astrophysical Journal Letters.

According to Ron Cowen, in “Rocky Finding”, most other observed disks have been cool and located much further from their parents stars. Assessing this research, Charles Beichman of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California finds that “we now have direct evidence for structures around other stars that are directly analogous to the asteroid belt in our solar system.”

Further observations of Zeta Leporis have enabled researchers to precisely gauge the size of this dust dusk. Additionally, according to Cowen, research finds that the location of the dust is at a distance of 3 astronomical units (AU) from Zeta Leporis, quite similar to the location of the solar system’s asteroid belt, stretching from 2.1 to 3.3 AU from the sun.

Noting that asteroids are leftovers from the planet-making process in the solar system, Cowen reports that, while still a young star, Zeta Leporis is old enough to have formed planets. These new studies and findings “support the thought that Earthlike planets may exist” according to Michael Jura of the University of California, Los Angeles who observed the dust in the disk surrounding Zeta Leporis to find its radius.

Further research will attempt to reveal the shape of the Zeta Leporis’ disk as well as providing insight into its possible formation, continuing efforts to understand the inner territory of our skies.

Source: Science News Magazine

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Brown dwarf detected in the CoRoT-20 system

July 16, 2018

An international group of astronomers has discovered a new substellar object in the planetary system CoRoT-20. The newly identified object was classified as a brown dwarf due to its mass, which is greater than that of the ...

South Africa unveils super radio telescope

July 13, 2018

South Africa on Friday unveiled a super radio telescope, a first phase of what will be the world's largest telescope in a project to try to unravel the secrets of the universe.

'X'-ploring the Eagle Nebula and 'Pillars of Creation'

July 13, 2018

The Eagle Nebula, also known as Messier 16, contains the young star cluster NGC 6611. It also the site of the spectacular star-forming region known as the Pillars of Creation, which is located in the southern portion of the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.