dec 062013
An Exoplanet Discovered That Shouldn't Be There

  The discovery of a giant planet orbiting its star at 650 times the average Earth-Sun distance has astronomers puzzled over how such a strange system came to be. This is an artist’s conception of a young planet in a distant orbit around its host star. The star still harbors a debris disk, remnant material [continue reading]

jul 152013
Herschel Discovers Cosmic Dust Belts without Dust

  International Research Team of Astrophysicists Discovers Six Ultra-Cold Debris Disks   Planets and asteroids, red giants and brown dwarfs – there are all kinds of objects in our Universe. Debris disks are among them. These are belts consisting of countless dust particles and planetesimals, circling around one central star. “At least one fifth of [continue reading]

apr 102013
Planets and Debris Disk Found Around Retired Star

  ESA’s Herschel space observatory has provided the first images of a dust belt – produced by colliding comets or asteroids – orbiting a sub-giant star known to host a planetary system. Kappa Coronae Borealis, based on Herschel PACS observations at 100 μm. North is up and east is left. The star is in the center of the frame [continue reading]

nov 292012
Dust Grains in Protoplanetary Disks Form Fully-Grown Planets

  An international team of researchers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and the Japanese universities of Kobe, Hyogo, and Saitama used the Subaru Telescope to capture a clear image of the protoplanetary disk of the star UX Tauri A. The team’s subsequent, detailed study of the disk’s characteristics suggests that its dust [continue reading]

nov 272012
Solar Systems Without Jupiters Mean Massive Comet Belts

  Using ESA’s Herschel space observatory, astronomers have discovered vast comet belts surrounding two nearby planetary systems known to host only Earth-to-Neptune-mass worlds. The comet reservoirs could have delivered life-giving oceans to the innermost planets. Artist impression of the debris disk and planets around the star known as Gliese 581, superimposed on Herschel PACS images [continue reading]

nov 142012
Mystery Dust Around a Dead Star with a Close Companion Found

  Astronomers using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, have discovered dust in an unusual place–just outside the reach of a binary star system with a short 3-hour orbit. The binary consists of a white dwarf with a red dwarf companion separated by a distance slightly larger than the radius of the [continue reading]