Hubble Discovers Comets Plunging Onto A Young Star

Posted: Jan 7 2017, 6:39am CST | by , Updated: Jan 7 2017, 6:45am CST , in Latest Science News


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Hubble Discovers Comets Plunging onto a Young Star
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered comets plunging onto the star HD 172555, which is a youthful 23 million years old and resides 95 light-years from Earth. Credits: NASA, ESA, A. Feild and G. Bacon (STScI)
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The above illustration image shows several comets speeding across a vast protoplanetary disk of gas and dust and heading straight for the youthful, central star. These "kamikaze" comets will eventually plunge into the star and vaporize. The comets are too small to photograph, but their gaseous spectral "fingerprints" on the star's light were detected by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The gravitational influence of a suspected Jupiter-sized planet in the foreground may have catapulted the comets into the star. This star, called HD 172555, represents the third extrasolar system where astronomers have detected doomed, wayward comets. The star resides 95 light-years from Earth.

Hubble space telescope from NASA detected comets that plunged into HD 172555 that’s 23 million years old and lives at 95 light years from the earth.

Hubble did not detect the exocomets (the comets outside the solar system) directly, but detected them through gas, the vaporized remnant of icy nuclei.

Scientists revealed that HD 172555 shows the third extra solar system where astronomers detected comets. The systems are young, though they are 40 million years old. All of the systems are young, under 40 million years old.

Scientists discovered that the comets were formed as a process of gravitational stirring when comets reside in the stars. The events also show the past history of solar system when the comets sent water to earth, and other inner planets of the solar system.

NASA astronomers found that similar comets in extra solar system are also common in young stars, stated leader Carol Grady of Eureka Scientific Inc. in Oakland, California, and NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The event showed the early period of the solar system. The result was presented on 6 Jan by Gary at the winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Grapevine, Texas.

The discovered comet star is from a group named Beta Pictoris Moving Group that emerged from similar stellar group. Scientists think that it’s easy to study the stellar group because it is located very close to the earth.

For the first time in 2004 and 2001, some French astronomers discovered exocomets around HD 172555. They observed them through a data collected by The European Southern Observatory's HARPS , i.e. High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher, planet-finding spectrograph.

The spectrographs create different colors light that help astronomers detect the chemical properties of the object. Like, the HARPS spectrograph detected calcium fingerprints in the starlight that showed that the stars had comets.

A spectrograph divides light into its component colors, allowing astronomers to detect an object's chemical makeup. The HARPS spectrograph detected the chemical fingerprints of calcium imprinted in the starlight, evidence that comet-like objects were falling into the star.

To follow the research study, Grady’s team used Hubble's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph ,STIS and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph ,COS in 2015 to analyze the spectrograph in ultraviolet light that helps Hubble detect different elements.

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