Reading aloud Like a flying saucer, the cloud of dust that surrounds a star 500 light-years away at the edge of the dark cloud Rho Ophiuchi looks like. "The new object is a perfect example of a young star with a dust disk in which planets will form or soon emerge, " reports the European Southern Observatory Eso, whose observatories discovered the previously unknown nebula. Unlike most freshly baked planetary systems, the approximately one million year old saucer nebula is not in the middle of a star-born region, but on the edge of the Rho Ophiuchi cloud, which is considered a star nursery. This situation gave the astronomers around Nicolas Grosso of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, on the one hand, a relatively clear view of the young solar system. On the other hand, the dust mist is far enough away from massive, short-lived stars whose strong radiation often sweeps dust around other stars.

From the observations, Grosso and his colleagues, who have submitted their findings in the journal "Astronomy & Astrophysics", conclude that the cloud weighs about 600 Earth masses and is five times larger in diameter than the orbit of the planet Neptune. From the ground you can see almost exactly from the side of the fog, so its shape resembles a flying saucer.

Because of this situation, the fog is even visible: the starlight, which would normally outshine the fog, is scattered by the dust particles. In the middle of the disc is also due to the scattering of light a dark stripe to see.

Since many details of the planet's formation are still in dispute, the saucer nebula offers itself to clarify these questions. "The star in the center of the fog is a long and quiet life surrounded by planets - much like in our own solar system, " it says in the press release of the Eso. display

Ute Kehse

© science.de

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