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 ")

Astronaut Tim Peake Completes Space Marathon
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses...' - Murray Leinster, 1953.

Aerojet Rocketdyne 'Ion Drive' To Reach The Asteroids? (Update!)
'It has its own ion drive...' - Jack Williamson, 1947.

Is Social Media Saving Space Travel?
'Officially, they were delighted to share their experiences with the public.' - Michael Swanwick

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module Attached to ISS
'John Endlich and his wife were setting up an airtight tent...' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.

 

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

Turing's Nose - Was That Scent Real Or Artificial?
'Rippling arpeggios of thyme and lavender...'

Xian'er Buddhist Monk Robot
'Getting to his feet he crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth...'

AnBot Security Robot WILL Tase You, Bro
Michael Crichton right again.

Hover Camera - Unfold Drone, Shoot Selfie
'He set his camera to follow him...'

A Baker's Dozen Of Autonomous Car-Related Revolutions
'Old people began to cross the continent in their own cars.'

Would You Date A Robot? 1 in 4 Say 'Yes'!
'My hands touched a great keyboard, whence, perfect through long practice, I could direct lifelike motion.'

Sophia, The Personable Robot From Hanson Robotics.
'The de luxe model... has fifty different facial expressions...'

Swimming, Slithering Snake Robot
John Connor, how do you feel about swimming snakes?

The First 'Drone Cafe' Started By Dutch Students
'It was a smooth ovoid floating a few inches from the floor...'

Astronaut Tim Peake Completes Space Marathon
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses...'

Aerojet Rocketdyne 'Ion Drive' To Reach The Asteroids? (Update!)
'It has its own ion drive...'

Beatie Wolfe's Album Is A Deck Of NFC Cards
'The greater trumps ready to step right out through those glistening surfaces.'

Is Social Media Saving Space Travel?
'Officially, they were delighted to share their experiences with the public.'

iBubble Scuba Drone Follower
'Hovered behind him like a large tame bee...'

Ironing Robot May Fulfill Russian Science Fiction Dreams
Sometimes, the old inventions are the best.

Organic Photonic Skin Display
'A strip of readout skin on my wrist...'

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.