12May2017

‘Remarkably Similar’ Planetary System Just 10.5 Light Years Away

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Epsilon Eridani System by TheVocoderGuy

NASA has discovered a nearby planetary system it says is ‘remarkably similar’ to our own.  Located 10.5 light-years away in the Southern Hemisphere of the constellation Eridanus shows great promise.

The star Epsilon Eridani, eps Eri for short, is the closest planetary system around a star similar to the early Sun. It is a prime location to research how planets form around stars like our Sun, and is also the storied location of the Babylon 5 space station in the science fictional television series of the same name.

NASA’s flying observatory, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, made the discovery.  Previous studies indicate that eps Eri has a debris disk, which is the name astronomers give to leftover material still orbiting a star after planetary construction has completed. The debris can take the form of gas and dust, as well as small rocky and icy bodies.

Debris disks can be broad, continuous disks or concentrated into belts of debris, similar to our Solar System’s asteroid belt and the Kuiper Belt – the region beyond Neptune where hundreds of thousands of icy-rocky objects reside.

Furthermore, careful measurements of the motion of eps Eri indicates that a planet with nearly the same mass as Jupiter circles the star at a distance comparable to Jupiter’s distance from the Sun. Iowa State University’s Massimo Marengo said the findings are important because they confirm epsilon Eridani is a good model of the early days of our Solar System and can provide hints at how our solar system evolved.

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NASA has discovered a nearby planetary system is says is ‘remarkably similiar’ to our own. Located 10.5 light-years away.

“This star hosts a planetary system currently undergoing the same cataclysmic processes that happened to the Solar System in its youth, at the time in which the Moon gained most of its craters, Earth acquired the water in its oceans, and the conditions favorable for life on our planet were set,” Marengo wrote in a summary of the project.

Determining the structure of the disk was a complex effort that took several years and detailed computer modeling. The astronomers had to separate the faint emission of the disk from the much brighter light coming from the star. “’But we can now say with great confidence that there is a separation between the star’s inner and outer belts,” Marengo said. Source: Daily Mail.com

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