Scientists discovered a young star system which could offer us a perspective on the formation of our own solar system. The system revolves around star Epsilon Eridani (eps Eri), is 800 million years old, and lies 10.5 light-years away from Earth.
The star system teaches us more on the formation of our solar system
This planetary system bears a striking resemblance to our own. Researchers discovered a disk made of leftovers orbiting around the star. This leftover material, called debris, remained around the star even after the planets were formed. Besides the debris, researchers found a planet the size of Jupiter orbiting the star at the same distance that Jupiter orbits our sun.
The images were captured with the help of the 2.5-meter telescope at the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a common project of the German Aerospace Center and NASA. This telescope uses more advanced technology than any other NASA equipment, as it allowed them to see much smaller images than the Spitzer Space Telescope, for example.
Scientists are impressed by the similarities this young planetary system has with our solar system. They identified a warm zone around the Jupiter-like planet, as well as another planet which plays the role of Neptune. They are both meant to stop the dust coming from the outer zone.
Further observations need more technology
Also, the debris revolving around the star is distributed in two narrow belts, rather than being a uniform mass. One of these looks like the asteroid belt situated in the area between Saturn and Uranus. However, the scientists could not distinguish clearly the two belts in the young planetary system.
In 2018, NASA will launch the James Webb Telescope, which will make use of the most advanced technology ever used by a telescope. This is when NASA hopes they will obtain more information on this star system, as well as on many other exoplanets.
Image Source: NASA