The Nature of Life

The same nature that creates
the exquisite web of conscious living creatures
also creates the galaxies, solar systems
and planets on which we thrive.
Everything is connected to everything else.

©David A Hardy/AstroArt - used by permission

Astronomy Picture of the Day

2002 October 11

Fomalhaut Dust Disk Indicates Planets

Explanation: One of the brightest stars on the sky likely has planets. Fomalhaut, actually the 17th brightest star in the night sky, is a mere 22 light-years away but only a fraction of the age of our Sun. Recent observations in far infrared light with a detector cooled to near zero kelvins indicate a dust disk surrounding Fomalhaut that has both a hole in the center and a warped edge. Now the hole in the center indicates that dust has fallen onto interior planets—possibly like the Earth—while the warp at the edge indicates the gravitational pull of a planet like Jupiter or Saturn. The discovery image was taken with the SCUBA instrument through the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii, USA. The above illustration shows what the Fomalhaut dusty planetary system might look like from near the large planet.

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC & Michigan Tech. U.

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