February 28, 2024

NASA Lights: Fomalhaut’s Star and Rings is the astronomical picture of the day

The star Fomalhaut and its debris disks in an image highlighted by NASA on Thursday (11). This star is about 25 light-years away from us and is surrounded by rings of particles, some of which were first spotted by the James Webb telescope.

During the 1980s, astronomers noticed extra infrared emissions that helped reveal the disk’s presence. Now, with James Webb, it was possible to observe the Hulk and the others in detail never seen before.

paying off:

The image above was obtained from observations in infrared light, carried out by the MIRI instrument. The component detected a large cloud of dust in the disk’s outer ring, which could mean a collision of objects there. The inner disk of dust appears to have a gap, possibly opened and preserved by the presence of as-yet-unseen planets.

The scale in the lower left corner helps you understand the dimensions of the structures in the image. Taking that as a basis, we can say that the outer belt has a scale twice that of the Kuiper Belt, the region that harbors icy bodies beyond Neptune’s orbit.

Dust rings of the star Fomalhaut

Fomalhaut is located 25 light years from Earth and is one of the brightest stars in the sky. It can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation of Piscis Austrinus and is considered a Vega star, which means that it emits extremely infrared radiation from its surrounding disk of debris.

The disk was discovered in 1983, but only now have scientists been able to observe it in detail. The James Webb Telescope detected two belts of dust around the star that extend up to 23 billion kilometers from it.

The outer belt has already been observed by other telescopes, but no other structures outside have been identified. The secret this time was Webb’s high infrared sensitivity, which revealed the thermal glow of the dust that makes up the inner belts.

source: APOD