First Asteroid Belt Found Around Star Like Our Sun
An asteroid belt may have been found surrounding a star much like our own Sun, according to Dr. Charles Beichman of CIT. His team used NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to make the discovery. If confirmed, this would be the first asteroid belt detected around a star that is about the same age and size as our Sun. If true, it could offer a rare look at a star system that closely resembles our own.
(From Star HD 69830 Zodiacal Disk Spectrum)
The graph of data shown above shows the the dust around the nearby (about 41 light years) star HD 69830 has a composition that is very similar to that of the recent comet Hale-Bopp. The hills and valleys seen in the data demonstrate the presence of various minerals. These spectra show that a silicate mineral called olivine (in this case, forsterite - see inset box) is present. This mineral is found on Earth - and in comets and asteroids.
(From Star HD 69830 Asteroid Belt (artist concept))
The above artist's conception of the system shows the view from a planet that might exist in the system. Note the asteroid collision in the foreground - this replenishes the dust detected by the Spitzer telescope.
Science fiction writers like Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle assumed that other stars would also have asteroid belts. In their excellent novel The Mote In God's Eye, they wrote about an alien civilization that had expanded into space to colonize (and move) the asteroids into the stable Trojan points of a large gas giant planet. ("Trojan points" are points sixty degrees ahead of and sixty degrees behind a large planet; a zone of stable equilibrium is created in which space rubble accumulates.)
"Either this whole system is cluttered with asteroids from edge to edge or there is a new principle at work. There's more junk in Mote Beta's Trojans than has ever been reported in another system."
As it turned out, the asteroids in the Trojan points were inhabited; the Moties had moved asteroids from throughout their system. There is no word from Dr. Beichman and his colleagues about (possibly inhabited) Trojan points.
However, a second theory (somewhat less likely) will need to be checked out. According to the astronomers, it is possible that a giant comet, as big as the planet Pluto, got knocked into the inner solar system and is slowly boiling away, shedding dust in the process. "The 'super comet' theory is more of a long shot," Beichman said, "but we'll know soon enough." Future observations of the star using Spitzer and ground-based telescopes are expected to conclude whether asteroids or comets are the source of the dust.
Science fiction writers also have the "super comet" possibility covered. In his dated (but still cool) 1936 novel The Cometeers, Jack Williamson writes about a "comet" that is twelve million miles long! As it turns out, it wasn't a comet, but that's another story entirely.
Read more about the Alien Asteroid Belt press release; see more Alien Asteroid Belt images and videos.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/21/2005)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )
Related News Stories -
Autonomous 'Fiberbots' Weave Large Structures
'It extrudes material like a spider.' - Charles Sheffield, 1979.
How Do You Put An Asteroid Into Earth Orbit? Carefully!
'...she would have to be coaxed by another series of pats into a circular orbit.' - Robert Heinlein, 1939.
PD Aerospace Space Plane By 2023
'The sleek, tapered space shuttle lay immobile upon the private landing field...' - Frederic Arnold Kummer, Jr., 1940.
International Space Station Leak Plugged - With Finger
'These tag-alongs search out stray leaks' - Robert Heinlein, 1948.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Jaguar I-Pace Audible Vehicle Alert System For EVs
'Of course not a vehicle moved by means of internal explosions of a derivative of rock oil...'
Autonomous 'Fiberbots' Weave Large Structures
'It extrudes material like a spider.'
Birds Aren't Real - Wake Up, California! (With Bird Watching Guide)
'When he had first built them, they had been crude indeed, flying mechanisms with little more than a reflex-response unit.'
Self-Healing Material Pulls Carbon Out Of The Air
'... could seal the punctures.'
IRL Glasses Block Screens, Limit Vision To Real Life
'If you couldn't see the ads, how would you know what was fashionable?'
Testing The Single-Person Spacecraft
'...the lower part of the suit was simply a rigid cylinder.'
Shapeshifting Materials Transform By Light
'Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed.'
Fully Automated Farm Iron Ox Hydroponics
'Had these machines in some incredible fashion been provided with brains?'
BrainNet Social Network Of Brains
'I used my implant to tell MILLIE what we wanted and she took care of it'
Phil Nuyttnn's City Under The Sea
'Under the lower roof there was no water, but a clear and luminous atmosphere...'
IONITY Opens First 10 Fast-Charging Stations
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'
Superstrong Multilayer Metal-Graphene Composite Material
Negligible increase in weight increased material strength by hundreds of times.
Deepfakes Imperil Democracy (George Orwell, Right Again)
'All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.'
String Art Courtesy Of Robot Artist
The number of different ways to span a thread between a larger number of hooks is astronomical.
Still Wondering If You'd Work For A Robot Boss?
'This is all coming to you courtesy of the simstim unit wired into your deck, of course.'
World's First Autonomous Tram In Germany
What's it like for autonomous trams when they're turned off at night?
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories