Saturday, March 15, 2008

Embryonic Star System Reveals Glimpse of our Past

Scientists have been studying new-born binary star system, 2,400 light years away in the constellation Monoceros, and their research is beginning to give us an idea of how our own star system developed. This according to a column at the NY Times this week.

The binary stars (referred to as KH 15D) are surrounded by a vast, cloudy disk of sand-size material. What's fascinating is these particles aren't the remains of destroyed planets or comets. Researchers at Wesleyan University believe these particles came together from "infinitesimal dust particles over the three million years that the star has been in existence." Basically, what we're seeing is a star system being built from scratch.

There's a good chance that the sand-sized particles are literally the building blocks of rocky planets and asteroids. "These grains were about the same size as those found in many meteorites," reports the Times.

Previously at Pound360,
we discussed a similar star system GD 362. While the star in this system is also surrounded by a sprawling disk of matter, it's a star near the end of its life cycle (a white dwarf) and the disk is made up of the pulverized remains of planets (some that may have been Earth-like), asteroids and everything else that made up the system in its prime.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.