March 7, 2014
The disc of debris around the young star Beta Pictoris shows a potentially life-supporting system in the making, a hidden exoplanet and icy comets colliding at a rate of one every five minutes.
Beta Pictoris, visible to the naked eye in the southern sky, is offering astronomers a great look at the evolution of a young planetary system. The star is know to have one planet orbiting around 1.2 billion kilometres from it and was one of the first found to be surrounded by a large disc of dusty debris.
That disc is now the source of a multitude of new findings using observations captured by the European Southern Observatory‚Äôs (ESO) Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array telescope (ALMA).