Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recorded dust tails of 6 exocomes, revolving around a star that is 800 light years away from us. These icy and stone balls reached the parameters of Halley's comet and moved at a speed of 100,000 miles per hour before they evaporated. These are some of the most tiny objects found outside our system.
This discovery confirms for the first time the possibility of transit photometry — a method with which it is used to observe stellar luminescence. Dips allow you to track the events of transits - the passage in front of the star of the planet or other objects.
A specific event led to the discovery of a comet's tail, blocking 1/10 of a percentage of starlight. It is surprising that such tiny bodies could be noticed only due to the presence of a huge number of fragments.
Data from the Kepler space telescope launched in 2009 was used for detection. For 4 years, the unit monitored 200,000 stars to search for transit events. Today there is a list of 2400 exoplanets found by this review. The smallest reach 1/3 of earth size. Comets take the length of several football fields.
But on March 18, one of the amateur astronomers viewed Kepler’s pictures and noticed several remarkable features. In January, he sent to scan all the data for 4 years of review to check every star. Unprecedented
It was important for the astronomer to find something unusual that the computer algorithms had missed. Most of all he was disturbed by single transits in starlight, which occur only once, which excludes the case of the planet.
When searching, we managed to reveal three single passes around KIC 3542116 - a weak star distant by 800 light years. I had to spend a lot of time realizing what I saw, because earlier scientists hadn’t come across this.
With a typical planetary span, the resulting light curve resembles “U”. However, the new curves turned out to be asymmetric with a sharp drop and a gradual rise. The researchers realized that this picture resembles a decaying planet with long paths of debris. But the planet still had to go again, but this was not observed.
Then they came to the conclusion that this could be an object that approaches a star and evaporates. The only known option is the comet. Calculations showed that comets blocked 1/10 of a percentage of starlight. It is believed that 6 exoplanets were extremely close to the star over the past 4 years, breaking up a few months before approaching.
This discovery led to interesting questions: “Why are there so many comets in the internal systems?” And “Are they not representatives of the era of extreme bombardment?”. Scientists plan to respond to them with the help of the future mission of TESS.