Astronomers have discovered an ice belt of circling comets around a young sun-type star. This discovery can provide insight into the evolution of our own solar system.
The star, known as HD 181327, is about 23 million years old and is located about 160 light-years from Earth in the constellation Painter.
The star is surrounded by a dust ring, which scientists believe is formed from comets, asteroids and other bodies. A star may have exoplanets in its orbit, but they cannot be detected using modern technology.
Using data from the Atakamsky Big Millimeter / Submillimeter Lattice (ALMA) located in northern Chile, scientists found low concentrations of carbon monoxide in a dust disk HD 181327. The amount of gas turned out to be similar to what is found in comets in our own solar system. (Color image of a ring of comets around a Sun-like star HD 181327). The white contour represents the size of the Kuiper belt of our solar system).
“The system has an annular ice structure similar to our own, so this is a good example to find out how our solar system looked at the beginning of its existence,” said Sebastian Marino, a student at Cambridge University.
Earlier, carbon monoxide was found only around stars that are much more massive than the sun. HD 181327, by contrast, is only 30 percent larger than the Sun.
The study was presented at an astronomy conference in Santiago, Chile, on Wednesday and will be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.