Astronomers have glimpsed dusty debris around an essentially dead star where gravity and radiation should have long ago removed any sign of dust -- a discovery that may provide insights into our own solar systems eventual demise several billion years from now.
The results are based on mid-infrared observations made with the Gemini 8-meter Frederick C. Gillett Telescope (Gemini North) on Hawaiis Mauna Kea. The Gemini observations reveal a surprisingly high abundance of dust orbiting an ancient stellar ember named GD 362.
"This is not an easy one to explain," said Eric Becklin, UCLA astronomer and principle investigator for the Gemini observations. "Our best guess is that something similar to an asteroid or possibly even a planet around this long-dead star is being ground up and pulverized to feed the star with dust. The parallel to our own solar systems eventual demise is chilling."
Stuart Wolpert | EurekAlert!
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