Like sun, a star may have family of planets

  • PTI, London
  • |
  • Updated: Jan 11, 2013 00:06 IST

Astronomers have discovered that Vega - the second brightest star in the northern night sky - may have a family of planets similar to the Sun's.

Astronomers have discovered evidence of an asteroid belt surrounding the star which suggestes Vega is likely to have a solar system containing rocky planets similar to Earth or Mars.

In our own system, the asteroid belt beyond the orbit of Mars is maintained by the gravity of rocky planets and gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn.

Scientists believe Vega has an inner asteroid belt and outer belt of debris separated by a gap.

The discovery was made using the Herschel and Spitzer space telescopes. Detectors on the telescopes measured infrared light emitted by warm and cold bands of dust around the star.

Scientists suspect hidden planets are sweeping the region between the bands free of dust. Vega may have several planets up to the size of Jupiter.

 

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