May 25, 2022

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A giant cloud of debris detected by a NASA telescope after colliding with celestial bodies

Astronomers had the opportunity to observe when a large, star-sized cloud of debris from such a collision passed in front of a nearby star and blocked some of its light. Transient light fading is a method used to detect the presence of exoplanets around stars outside our solar system. But this time, observations revealed evidence of a potential collision the size of a large asteroid or smaller planet between two celestial bodies, scientists said.

A team of astronomers began to observe the 10 million-year-old star HD 166191, which is 388 light-years away from our Sun. In 2015. Astrologically, it is the youngest star – 4.6 billion years old considering our Sun. At this age, smaller planets often form around stars. These dust remnants from stellar formation and the rock bodies that surround it, unlike the asteroids that remain from the formation of our solar system. Small planets orbiting other stars will accumulate matter, increase in size and eventually become planets.

The gas essential for star formation is scattered between asteroids over time – so these objects are at high risk of colliding with each other.

There was the study group They thought they could see such an event if they constantly monitored HD 166191. Spitzer Space TelescopeAstronomers made more than 100 observations of the star between 2015 and 2019 (Spitzer discontinued in early 2020).

Debris provides clues about the formation of planets

Small planets can be very small to see through telescopes, but when they collide with each other, the dust clouds are so large that they can be observed.

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Based on observable data, the researchers initially believed that the debris cloud had become very rectangular, occupying an area three times larger than the size of the star – a very low estimate. But Spitzer’s infrared observations showed that only a small part of the cloud passed in front of the star, while the entire debris cloud spread hundreds of times the size of the star.

To create such a massive cloud, two objects the size of Vesta could collide, with one large asteroid approximately 330 miles (530 km wide) the size of a dwarf planet. Together in the main asteroid belt, located between Mars and Jupiter in our solar system.

When these two celestial bodies collided, they produced enough heat and energy to evaporate some debris. Parts of this collision may have collided with other small objects orbiting the HD 166191, which contributed to the dust cloud seen by Spitzer.

Leading research writer Kate Su, a research professor at Stewart Labs at the University of Arizona, said in a statement. “In learning about the effects of collisions in these systems, we can also get a better idea of ​​how often rocks form around other stars.”

The first eyewitness to seeing the aftermath of the conflict

By mid-2018, the brightness of the HD 166191 has increased, indicating functionality. Spitzer noticed an infrared light invisible to the human eye and spotted a cloud of debris as it moved in front of the star. This observation was compared to the light captured by underground telescopes, which revealed the size and shape of the cloud and the speed of its evolution. About 142 days ago, during a gap in Spitzer’s observations, ground-based telescopes witnessed a similar phenomenon.

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“For the first time, we have captured the infrared light of the dust and the fog that the dust enters as the cloud passes in front of the star,” said co-author Everett Slaven. Observatory. A permit.

Spitzer’s previous attempts to detect collisions around young stars have not revealed many details. New notes were released last week Astrophysical Journal.

George Rick, a professor of astronomy and planetary science at Regents University, said “there is no substitute for being an eyewitness to an event.” Stewart Observatory, University of Arizona, in a report. “With the theoretical hypotheses about the form of the actual event and the garbage cloud, not all of Spitzer’s previously reported cases have been resolved.”

As the researchers continued their observations, they saw that the dust cloud was expanding and becoming more apparent as the dust spread faster.

The cloud is unknown in 2019. However, there was twice as much dust in the system compared Spitzer notes before the collision.

The research team is continuing to observe the star using other infrared laboratories and is looking forward to new observations of these types of collisions using the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope.