Space Research

Hubble space telescope finds a huge, complex debris ring around star HR 4796A

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has found a huge, complex debris ring around a young star HR 4796A.

According to the scientists behind the reported find, the star in question is encircled by a bright white ring of debris. The debris ring is known to be 77 astronomical units in radius, that’s almost twice Pluto’s average distance from the sun. HR 4796 is around 8 million years old and is in its formative years of planet construction.

On using Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) to probe and map the small dust particles surrounding HR 4796A, the astronomers have found that the debris structure surrounding the star is much larger in size and more complex than it was previously thought. They have found that it’s pretty big and weird-shaped.

“The resulting images unambiguously reveal the debris ring embedded within a much larger, morphologically complex, and biaxially asymmetric exo-ring scattering structure,” the researchers noted in the paper.

According to the astronomers, collisions among developing infant planets near the star might have resulted in the debris field of fine dust that looks like a bright ring as seen from 7 billion miles away from the star. The star’s starlight pressure, which is 23 times more luminous than the Sun, might have scattered the dust far into space.

The outer dust structure appears to look like a puffed donut-shaped inner tube. It seems to be much more extended in one direction as compared to the other side. While researchers aren’t sure about how the system got its shape, it may be due to the host star’s motion of plowing through the interstellar medium.

There are also chances that the star’s binary companion (HR 4796B), which is located at least 54 billion miles from HR 4796A, is influencing the shape of the debris structure with its gravitational pull.

The research paper has been published in The Astronomical Journal.

About the author

Megha Kedia

Megha Kedia

Megha is a seasoned reporter with over six years of experience covering news in technology, science and related fields. At The Space News, Megha covers space research & technology news.

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