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 |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Tyson Says Asteroid Miners Will Be First Trillionaires
'...Come together here under the influence of their mutual gravitation, and formed a little metallic planet.'- Garrett P. Serviss, 1898.

Zap Space Debris With Telescope Laser On ISS
'... their lasers vaporized the smaller satellites...'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1978.

Spacex Sticks Landing! But Neglects Lateral Forces
Elon Musk and Spacex engineers will not be denied!

Asterank Database Identifies Profitable Asteroids
'Now it was a huge, charted, floating ore deposit for the entire Solar System.'- Nelson S. Bond, 1941.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Walker Robot Helps The Elderly
'The robant and the tiny old woman entered the control room slowly...'

What's Another Word For The Army's Handheld Ray Guns?
'I was holding my Blaster pointing ahead of me...'

Tyson Says Asteroid Miners Will Be First Trillionaires
'...Come together here under the influence of their mutual gravitation, and formed a little metallic planet.'

Zap Space Debris With Telescope Laser On ISS
'... their lasers vaporized the smaller satellites...'

Moran Cerf, When Will We Get Neuro Tech For Ourselves?
If brainwave-sensing consumer products tickle your fancy...

Velkess Energy Storage System (It's A Flexible Flywheel!)
'The kinetic man unjacked Lalji’s kink-springs from the winding treadmills...'

Performance Enhancing Drugs - In Gaming?
'A faint smell of rachag stimulant wafted down the table.'

Automated Treadmill Adjusts To Your Pace
'The auto-treadmill's bumps and gullies matched...'

Mr. Anderton, Beware This Long-Range Iris Scanner
Try keeping your eyes shut, Mr. Anderton.

Mini Statues Of You From 3D Images
'...A three-dimensional simulacrum of himself six inches high took form.'

'Forever' Camera Powered By Its Own Images
'What I have in this camera is not a record of what you did just now but what will go on here in the next half hour...'

Robot Chef Makes Thousands Of Dinners
'I got one of those new electronic cameras... and I could construct this one to do it exactly right down to the thousandth of a second.'

Revault Wearable Private Cloud Is Too Vaporous
'A man or woman could carry AIs or complete planetary dataspheres...'

Spacex Sticks Landing! But Neglects Lateral Forces
So close!

Lumo Projector Turns Kids Rooms Into Bradbury's Veldt
'The walls began to purr and recede... and presently an African veldt appeared...'

Ground Control Space Beer
Ninkasi Brewing Co. has its own space program.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.