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HubbleSite Beta Pictoris Disk Hides Giant Elliptical Ring System

  • Thread starter Space Telescope Science
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Space Telescope Science

The planetary dust disk around the nearby star Beta Pictoris is dynamically "ringing like a bell," say astronomers investigating Hubble telescope images. The "clapper" is the gravitational wallop of a star that passed near Beta Pictoris some 100,000 years ago. The surprising findings show that a close encounter with a neighboring star can severely disrupt the evolution and appearance of thin disks, which are the nurseries of planetary systems. Similar fly-bys of our solar system long ago may have reshuffled the comets that now populate our Oort cloud and Kuiper belt.

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