Stardust discovered in far-off planetary systemsSeptember 30, 2011
The debris discs are remnants of the formation of the planets. "We are dealing with enormous accumulations of chunks of matter which create dust when they collide", Alexander Krivov says. This dust is of greatest importance for the astronomers, because it helps to draw conclusions about the planet formation. There are even two debris discs in our solar system, the asteroid belt and the Kuiper belt amongst whose bodies the dwarf planet Pluto belongs.
What makes the Jena discovery so special is the tremendous distance from our solar system to the stars with the debris discs. "These stars are hundreds of light years away from the Earth", according to Krivov. The particular focus is on TrES-2 in the Draco constellation and XO-5 in the Lynx constellation. Planets orbiting these stars can only be detected with the help of the transit method. It sounds like a simple principle: The night sky is photographed in regular intervals. Special software then checks the brightness of the stars on the images. If, in regular intervals, there are differences in brightness it is likely that a planet passes between the star and its observers.
The astronomers found evidence for the stardust with the help of photometric analysis. At first the characteristics of the stars can be analysed with it. If there are irregularities in the invisible infrared range, they point to the existence of stardust. Krivov says: "The dust is warmed up by the star and radiates heat. We see that radiation curve is above the radiation curve of the star as a clear sign of the existence of stardust."
Professor Krivov draws an impressive comparison for the search of debris discs in the vastness of the universe: it is as if you would detect an ice-cream cooled down to minus 130 degrees with a heat detector in a 5,000 kilometer distance from Jena.
Alexander Krivov's team of scientists concentrated its search for debris disc candidates on about 100 known extra-solar systems with transiting planets. Of these systems, they found 52 in the observational results of the US-American space telescope WISE published in April this year. The Jena scientists got lucky with two systems. As early as 1 June Alexander Krivov, Martin Reidemeister, Simone Fiedler, Dr. Torsten Löhne und Professor Ralph Neuhäuser submitted their paper to the science magazine 'Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society' for publication in the 'Letters' section. Meanwhile the paper has been published under the title 'Debris disc candidates in systems with transiting planets' (doi:10.1111/j.1745-3933.2011.01133.x).
Related Stardust Current Events and Stardust News Articles
Research shows that comet impacts may have led to life on Earth -- and perhaps elsewhere
Comet impact on Earth are synonymous with great extinctions, but now research presented at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Prague shows that early comet impact would have become a driving force to cause substantial synthesis of peptides - the first building blocks of life. This may have implications for the genesis of life on other worlds.
Comet Wild 2: A window into the birth of the solar system?
Our solar system, and other planetary systems, started as a disk of microscopic dust, gas, and ice around the young Sun. The amazing diversity of objects in the solar system today - the planets, moons, asteroids, and comets - was made from this primitive dust.
More than a million stars are forming in a mysterious dusty gas cloud in a nearby galaxy
More than a million young stars are forming in a hot, dusty cloud of molecular gases in a tiny galaxy near our own, an international team of astronomers has discovered.
Scientists discover interstellar stardust
We may joke about looking for a needle in a haystack, but that's nothing compared to searching for stardust in a foil! A new paper published in Science reveals that such work has led to the discovery of seven dust particles that are not only out of this world, they're out of this solar system.
Mysteries of space dust revealed
The first analysis of space dust collected by a special collector onboard NASA's Stardust mission and sent back to Earth for study in 2006 suggests the tiny specks, which likely originated from beyond our solar system, are more complex in composition and structure than previously imagined.
New Milky Way maps help solve stubborn interstellar material mystery
An international team of sky scholars, including a key researcher from Johns Hopkins, has produced new maps of the material located between the stars in the Milky Way.
Berkeley Lab Develops Nanoscope to Probe Chemistry on the Molecular Scale
For years, scientists have had an itch they couldn't scratch. Even with the best microscopes and spectrometers, it's been difficult to study and identify molecules at the so-called mesoscale, a region of matter that ranges from 10 to 1000 nanometers in size.
New Technique Could Be Used to Search Space Dust for Life's Ingredients
While the origin of life remains mysterious, scientists are finding more and more evidence that material created in space and delivered to Earth by comet and meteor impacts could have given a boost to the start of life. Some meteorites supply molecules that can be used as building blocks to make certain kinds of larger molecules that are critical for life.
Strathclyde take the lead in space research
Academics at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow are set to investigate the removal of space debris and deflection of asteroids - leading the first research-based training network of its kind in the world.
University of Hawaii scientists analyze a tiny comet grain to date Jupiter's formation
Particles from comet 81P/Wild 2 brought to Earth in 2006 by NASA's Stardust spacecraft indicate that Jupiter formed more than three million years after the formation of the first solids in our Solar System.
More Stardust Current Events and Stardust News Articles