Home > Astronomy, Astrophysics, General Astronomy > Comet Crystals Found In A Nearby Planetary System

Comet Crystals Found In A Nearby Planetary System


Olivine crystals. Credits: J. Debosscher, KU Leuven

Pristine material that matches comets in our own Solar System have been found in a dust belt around the young star Beta Pictoris by ESA’s Herschel space observatory.

Thanks to the unique observing capabilities of Herschel, the composition of the dust in the cold outskirts of the Beta Pictoris system has been determined for the first time.

Of particular interest was the mineral olivine, which crystallises out of the protoplanetary disc material close to newborn stars and is eventually incorporated into asteroids, comets and planets.

“Thanks to Herschel, we were able to measure the properties of pristine material left over from the initial planet-building process in another solar system with a precision that is comparable to what we could achieve in the laboratory if we had the material here on Earth,” says ESA’s Herschel project scientist Göran Pilbratt.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMSLRERI7H_index_0.html

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