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James Webb discovered new asteroid belts around a star that are among the brightest in our sky |  Sciences

James Webb discovered new asteroid belts around a star that are among the brightest in our sky | Sciences

Webb’s observations revealed a more complex system around Fomalhaut. Image: NASA/Discover

New, high-resolution images captured by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) show previously unknown details of one of the brightest stars in the night sky.

Scientists have been able to use Ultra Telescope images to find two new asteroid belts around the star whale’s mouth And they point to evidence of what could be a complex and possibly active planetary system, according to an article published in the scientific journal Nature Astronomy.

Located 25 light-years from Earth, Fomalhaut isn’t the brightest in the night sky (a feat that falls to Sirius, a.k.a. the Dog Star). However, Fomalhaut is easily identifiable with the naked eye and is often used as a reference point by amateur astronomers. It is in the constellation Piscis Austrinus.

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The presence of a debris belt around Fomalhaut was first noted in 1983, but now, observations from the James Webb Super Telescope have revealed two additional rings closer to the star – a bright inner ring and a narrow middle ring.

What is the significance of this new discovery?

In an interview with g 1These disks of debris could help launch a long-term goal of astronomy, which is to understand the formation and evolution of planetary systems, especially those like them, explains astronomer András Gáspár of the University of Arizona and lead author of the new paper describing these findings.

In the case of Fomalhaut, we already know that its disks contain similar components to those here in our solar system: their dust belts are made up of debris from the collisions of large bodies, similar to asteroids and comets like we have here in our own. Ocean.

“James Webb’s observations revealed a system far more complex and exciting than our wildest dreams could have imagined,” says Gáspar.

Despite this, no planets have been discovered around the star. The researchers only suspect that these belts may have been sculpted by the gravitational forces exerted by planets we still cannot see.

Our solar system, for example, has two such belts – the main asteroid belt between Mars and the gas giant Jupiter, and the Kuiper belt, beyond the ice giant Neptune.

And here, it is precisely the influence of Neptune’s gravity that forms the inner edge of the Kuiper Belt, which, in turn, is home to the dwarf planets Pluto and Eris.

So, in the case of Fomalhaut, astronomers suspect that we also have an ice giant that formed in the vicinity of the star.

“There are many open questions about how dust in these disks coalesced to form planetary embryos, how planetary atmospheres form, etc,” added Schuyler Wolf, co-author of the study.

“Planets form within the primordial disks that surround young stars,” Wolf said. “Understanding this formation process requires a comprehensive understanding of how these disks form and evolve.”

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Understand in the video below why James Webb is indeed a super telescope.

Compare images from the James Webb Telescope to its predecessor