Hungarian astronomer discovers hidden asteroid belts: are they dangerous for the Earth?
András Gáspár, an astronomer at the University of Arizona, discovered two new asteroid belts in the closest solar system. And he was able to take some photos of them in infrared light.
Formalhaut is a nearby young star, and astronomers led by the Hungarian Mr Gáspár could make an image using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope of its asteroid belt in infrared light. That is why you can see Formalhaut, the star of that solar system, in black. However, Formalhaut’s dust belt proved to be much more complex than previously thought, 24.hu wrote.
Our solar system has two asteroid belts. One is between Mars and Jupiter, while the other is outside the Neptune. The latter’s name is Kuiper Dust. Formalhaut has three belts, but we knew about only the outer one until Mr Gáspár’s image was published. According to Nasa.gov, the “three nested belts extending out to 14 billion miles (23 billion kilometres) from the star; that’s 150 times the distance of Earth from the Sun.” Meanwhile, “the scale of the outermost belt is roughly twice the scale of our solar system’s Kuiper Belt of small bodies and cold dust beyond Neptune.” Clicking on THIS link, you may download the full-resolution image from the Space Telescope Science Institute.
Here is an image with explanation about the new discovery:
Interestingly, you can see Formalhaut from Earth with the naked eye as the brightest star in the southern constellation Piscis Austrinus. The asteroid belts are the result of large celestial collisions. “I would describe Fomalhaut as the archetype of debris disks found elsewhere in our galaxy, because it has components similar to those we have in our own planetary system,” said András Gáspár of the University of Arizona in Tucson and lead author of a new paper describing these results. “By looking at the patterns in these rings, we can actually start to make a little sketch of what a planetary system ought to look like – If we could actually take a deep enough picture to see the suspected planets.”
The newly discovered asteroids are not dangerous to Earth since they are far. The closest asteroid field to the Earth is between Mars and Jupiter. And that is not dangerous either.