Press Release 05-122
Dustiest Star Could Harbor a Young Earth
July 20, 2005
A young star located about 300 light-years away may greatly improve our understanding of the formation of Earth-like planets.
Known as BD +20 307, the object is shrouded by the dustiest environment ever seen so close to a Sun-like star—or at least, to such a star that has already passed through its earliest birth pangs. Indeed, astronomers believe the thick, warm dust clouds around BD +20 307 are quite new by galactic standards, and are being fed by ongoing collisions among rocky bodies that orbit the star at distances comparable to that between the Earth and Sun.
The findings, published in the July 21 issue of the journal, Nature, were based on observations done at the Gemini Observatory, which is partially funded by the National Science Foundation, and at the W.M. Keck Observatories. The observations support the idea that comparable collisions of rocky bodies occurred in our own solar system about 4.5 billion years ago, at a time when the Earth itself was forming. So, more discoveries of this sort would indicate the rocky planets and moons of our inner solar system are not as rare as some astronomers believe.
For more information, see the Gemini Observatory news release.
M. Mitchell Waldrop, NSF (703) 292-7752 firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Michaud, Gemini Observatory (808) 974-2510 email@example.com
Inseok Song, Gemini Observatory (808) 974-2609 firstname.lastname@example.org
Gemini Observatory: http://www.gemini.edu/
W. M. Keck Observatory: http://www2.keck.hawaii.edu/
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