Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Dust-enshrouded star looks similar to our sun

21.07.2005


Astronomers report tremendous quantities of warm dusty debris surrounding a star with luminosity and mass similar to the sun’s, but located 300 light-years from Earth. The extraordinary nature of the dust indicates a violent history of cosmic collisions between asteroids and comets, or perhaps even between planets. The discovery is published July 21 in Nature.



"What is so amazing is that the amount of dust around this star is approximately 1 million times greater than the dust around the sun," said Eric Becklin, a UCLA professor of physics and astronomy, member of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, and co-author of the Nature paper. "It’s likely there was a cosmic catastrophe, and a time of heavy bombardment, where large asteroids collided in the last few thousand years or less. It’s incredible what must be going on."

Unlike hundreds of other stars with dust, where the dust is far from the star -- equivalent to beyond the orbit of Pluto -- this dust is orbiting in close to the star, where Earth-like planets are most likely to be, said Inseok Song, a former UCLA research scientist who is now an astronomer with the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii, and lead author of the paper.


Was Song surprised to see so much dust so near to the star, which is known as BD+20 307, and is in the constellation Aries? "Definitely," he said. "I expected to find a much weaker excess because dust close to the star can’t survive long."

"The amount of warm dust near BD+20 307 is so unprecedented I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the result of a massive collision between planet-size objects, for example, a collision like the one which many scientists believe formed Earth’s moon," said Benjamin Zuckerman, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy, member of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, and a co author of the paper. "According to this model, the early Earth was struck by a Mars-size object that generated an immense fountain of hot magma, some of which condensed to form the moon. But if even a small percentage of this magma escaped into orbit around the sun, it could have led to a condition such as we now witness at BD+20 307."

"This looks similar to our own solar system, and may well lead to a greater understanding of how our solar system formed," said Becklin, who is chief scientist for NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy project. "It is very likely there are planets orbiting this star."

The team of astronomers used the 10-meter Keck I and the Gemini North telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii to measure the heat radiation coming from the dust.

Very young stars, 10 million years old or younger, may have this much dust around them, but the evidence presented in Nature points to an age of at least a few hundred million years for BD+20 307. For stars that are hundreds of million years old, "this is the dustiest star, far and away," Zuckerman said. Typically, small dust particles get pushed away by radiation or wind, and larger dust particles often get destroyed in collisions or clump together to form larger objects.

"For 98 percent of the stars that have dust around them that have been found, the dust is far beyond the terrestrial planet region and wouldn’t tell us anything about Earth," Zuckerman said. "Not more than 1 percent of stars of this age exhibit this kind of warm dust close to the star; the dust is radiating at about room temperature."

"The dust we see is similar in composition to dust in the solar system, but has been pulverized into tiny particles," said Alycia Weinberger, a former UCLA postdoctoral scholar who is now with the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "The Earth may have received lots of similar material in its first 600 million years, during a time when the inner solar system was bombarded by asteroids, comets and other debris."

"There are very few systems like this one that any astronomer has seen, just a tiny handful; you can count the examples on one hand," Zuckerman said. "My interpretation is that our solar system may be quite unusual. I expect this star to be studied over and over again. Many stars closer to Earth with an age comparable to that of our solar system during the era of heavy bombardment have been studied carefully and do not show this pattern."

"Since the early ’80s," Song said, "many astronomers have eagerly searched for an analogy to our solar system’s asteroidal belt at other stars. Our finding is a bona fide example of dust at the exo-asteroidal zone and it is chilling to see dust at the Earth-sun separation around a young solar analog -- like seeing our own sun back in time."

Stuart Wolpert | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.college.ucla.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New NASA study improves search for habitable worlds
20.10.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods
19.10.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>