New Solar System Spotted
Comparison of Epsilon Eridani Solar System to the Sun (credit: NASA)
Like an episode straight out of Star Trek, a new solar system has been discovered spinning around its star. It potentially has three planets. NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has just completed a detailed study of the new planetary system, Epsilon Eridani. The planetary system looks remarkably similar to the architecture of our own solar system but it is still forming. According to NASA's announcement,
"Epsilon Eridani is ~10 light-years away, is the closest system around a star similar to the early Sun, is ~80% the brightness of our Sun, and is less than 1 billion years old. Previous studies determined the Epsilon system has a debris disk of leftover material still orbiting the star after planetary construction occurred. Debris disks can be broad and continuous disks, or concentrated into belts of debris, similar to our solar system’s asteroid belt and the Kuiper Belt. The motion of the Epsilon's star indicates a planet with nearly the same mass as Jupiter circles it at a distance comparable to Jupiter’s distance from the Sun."
The study was published in Astronomical Journal.