Astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered the nearest and youngest star with a visible disk of dust that may be a nursery for planets.
The dim red dwarf star is a mere 33 light years away, close enough that the Hubble Space Telescope or ground-based telescopes with adaptive optics to sharpen the image should be able to see whether the dust disk contains clumps of matter that might turn into planets.
"Circumstellar disks are signposts for planet formation, and this is the nearest and youngest star where we directly observe light reflected from the dust produced by extrasolar comets and asteroids - i.e., the objects that could possibly form planets by accretion," said Paul Kalas, assistant research astronomer at UC Berkeley and lead author of a paper reporting the discovery.
Robert Sanders | EurekAlert!
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