Washington, May 3, 2017: A nearby planetary system star could be a good model of our early solar system as it has an architecture remarkably similar to that of our own, astronomers have confirmed.
Located 10.5 light-years away in the southern hemisphere of the constellation Eridanus, the star Epsilon Eridani, eps Eri for short, is the closest planetary system around a star similar to the early Sun.
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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.
“It really is impressive how eps Eri, a much younger version of our solar system, is put together like ours,” said one of the researchers, Kate Su of the University of Arizona in the US.
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This study, based on data from NASA’s flying observatory, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, was published in the Astronomical Journal.
Massimo Marengo, Associate Professor at Iowa State University, and other astronomers have been studying the star and its planetary system since 2004.
In a 2009 scientific paper, the astronomers used data from NASA’s Spitzer space telescope to describe the star’s disc of fine dust and debris left over from the formation of planets and the collisions of asteroids and comets.
They reported the disk contained separate belts of asteroids, similar to the asteroid and Kuiper belts of our solar system.
Subsequent studies by other astronomers questioned that finding.
The new study used SOFIA and Spitzer data to confirm there are separate inner and outer disk structures. (IANS)