Dead Star Tears Apart Asteroid To Form Saturn-like Disk

Posted: Nov 11 2015, 10:38pm CST | by , Updated: Nov 12 2015, 11:03pm CST, in News | Latest Science News


Dead Star Tear Apart Asteroid to Form Saturn-like Disk
Credit: Mark Garlick/University of Warwick

The collision resulted in the creation of a glowing debris ring.

Scientists have captured the first ever image of an asteroid being torn apart by a dead star and creating a glowing ring of debris.

Dead star’s gravity ripped apart the asteroid and particles of dust and debris produced by the collision formed a dark red illuminating ring.

The glowing ring is similar to planet Saturn’s ring but greater many times in size. The diameter of the gap inside the ring is so massive that it can fit both Saturn and its ring.

There are very few white dwarf stars that have debris ring around them like this one that has been named SDSS1228+1040.

"We knew about these debris disks around white dwarfs for over twenty years, but have only now been able to obtain the first image of one of these disks.” Lead researchers Christopher Manser from University of Warwick’s Astrophysics Group.

The image was not possible to be captured in a single go. It was created by combing scans of different angles and converting them into a single image. The disk is moving so slowly around the white dwarf that it took researchers twenty years to create the whole picture.

"The image we get from the processed data shows us that these systems are truly disc-like, and reveal many structures that we cannot detect in a single snapshot. The image shows a spiral-like structure which we think is related to collisions between dust grains in the debris disc."

So far over thirty debris disks have been discovered and most of them are in a stable condition. Only a handful displayed some changes including SDSS1228+1040.

"When we discovered this debris disk orbiting the white dwarf SDSS1228+1040 back in 2006, we thought we saw some signs of an asymmetric shape.,” said Manser. “However, we could not have imagined the exquisite details that are now visible in this image constructed from twelve years of data - it was definitely worth the wait."


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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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