Baby photos of a scaled-up Solar System

10. November 2014

A group of scientists led by Kate Su of the University of Arizona has reconstructed „baby photos“ of the planetary system around the young star HD 95086. The system looks very similar to what we expect our own Solar System to have looked like between 10 and 90 million years after its birth – only larger. In particular, the researchers found that HD 95086 has two dust belts, analogous to the asteroid and Kuiper belts in our Solar system, surrounded by a large dust halo that is only found in young planetary systems.

One set of images used in the analysis was taken with the PACS camera aboard ESA's Herschel Space Telescope – an instrument to which the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) has made key contributions. MPIA's Zoltan Balog, who was a member of the PACS instrument team and used his detailed knowledge of the instrument to help with the HD 95086 image analysis, says: „It's exciting that we have found what could be a young version of our own Solar System. And we will definitely need to look closer – our results suggest there should be several young planets in HD 95086, waiting to be discovered.“

Background information

The results were announced at the Monday, November 10, 2014 press conference at the 46th Meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the International Astronomical Union in Tucson, Arizona. More detailed information can be found in this University of Arizona press release

University of Arizona press release:

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