Scientists Spotted New Hot Dust Rings Around Stars: What Should You Know


The phenomenon of so-called hot dust rings (an aggregation of submicrometer-sized particles in the vicinity of stars) was first found outside our Solar System back in 2006. The unique rings form so close to stars that they can reach some of the highest temperatures, up to 1,000 degrees Celsius.

However, the dust particles are challenging to track due to their small size, and their nature is still a mystery.

Thanks to a team of researchers, the phenomenon has now been analyzed in a new wavelength range using a instrument dubbed MATISSE (the Multi AperTure mid-Infrared Spectro Scopic Experiment). Here is what you need to know.

Hot Dust Rings in the Spotlight!

Dust rings or “debris belts,” are a result of collisions of small bodies and debris that remain after the formation of planets. In our Solar System, for instance, that aggregation can be spotted between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, the well-known “asteroid belt.”

The hot dust rings discovered in 2006 are quite the mystery. 

Researchers wonder: How could they develop and survive for billions of years under severe conditions? New research tries now to answer that question and find more about the phenomenon. 

Sebastian Wolf, a professor of astrophysics at the Kiel University, led a team of researchers, part of an international consortium of scientists from France, Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands who have developed the observing instrument MATISSE, released the first statements about the hot dust rings.

The Team’s Findings

MATISSE, the most powerful mid-infrared interferometric instrument, began operating at the VLTI (the Very Large Telescope Interferometer) of the ESO.

Four telescopes can be utilized to track the infrared radiation of cosmic bodies, a method known as interferometry. So the researchers don’t get direct images of the objects, but all the conclusions can be drawn about their features and appearance from the technical measurements. 

With MATISSE’s unprecedented accuracy, insights into the earliest expansion of planets, and ultimately the Solar System’s evolution are possible. The team observed the star Kappa Tucanae, located in the constellation Tukan. The star is estimated to be two billion years old and approximately 69 light-years away from Earth. 

Based on the new data, the team was able to determine the precise position of the dust ring around Kappa Tucanae and the dust traits. 

“[…] the observational data now collected and evaluated form the basis for our further research on an explanatory model for the hot dust rings,” stated Wolf. 

We should expect more details to be released in the coming months.

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