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 ")

Humanity Star LEO Advertisement?
'Everyone has noticed those enormous advertisements...' Jules Verne, 1889.

Bigelow Prepares Inflatable Lunar Hotel
'Suddenly, hitherto unheard-of sums of money became available for investment in civilian orbital stations.' - Carl Sagan, 1985.

NASA SEXTANT First With X-Ray Nav In Space
'You need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.' - Harry Harrison, 1956.

Subsurface Martian Ice Slabs Piece Of Cake For Miners
'One shy little fellow with bloodshot eyes of old-time drillman stood up. 'I'm an ice miner,' he said.' - Robert Heinlein, 1966.

 

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

A 'Genuine Nanorobotic Production Factory'
'Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically, purposefully - constructing something...'

Neuromorphic Computer Offers Non-von Neumann Architecture
Fires faster than brain at 1/10K energy.

Evorus Your Crowd-Powered Conversational Assistant
'...the DS [Daily Schedule] was suddenly transformed into a valued confidante.'

Mealworms Food Of The Future
Get your grubs on.

Alibaba's AI May Read Better Than You
'Mike ... could accept other languages and was doing technical translating - and reading endlessly.'

Musk's Boring Flamethrower
'Skeletons in tatters. Burned by a flesh gun'

Humanity Star LEO Advertisement?
'Everyone has noticed those enormous advertisements...'

Nissan ProPILOT Slippers Are Self-Parking, Autonomous
Beyond science and fiction.

Atomristors - Atomic Memristors - Using Thin Nanomaterials
'I could almost feel those little tunnel junction neuristors working, forming their own interconnections as I operated it.'

Bigelow Prepares Inflatable Lunar Hotel
'Suddenly, hitherto unheard-of sums of money became available for investment in civilian orbital stations.'

Drunk Driver Of Tesla Claims Autopilot Was In Charge
'Mr. Garden, you are in no condition to drive.'

Medical Exoskeleton From Cyberdyne Gets FDA Approval
It's been a long road for HAL-5; I started writing about it in 2005.

Fungi-Infused Concrete Repairs Itself
'I noticed that curious mottled knots were forming, indicating where the room had been strained and healed faultily.'

Shiftwear Display Shoes
'He unlaced her shoe and glanced at its readout.'

NASA SEXTANT First With X-Ray Nav In Space
'You need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.'

GM Introduces Cruise AV With No Steering Wheel
'How about the steering wheel?' ... 'I do not need one.'

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.