ALMA Explores Fomalhauts Debris Disc

Eso_potw1721a_500

eso_potw1721a May 22nd, 2017

Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/L. Matrà/M. A. MacGregor

Fomalhaut is one of the brightest stars in the sky. At roughly 25 light-years away the star lies especially close to us, and can be seen shining brightly in the constellation of Piscis Austrinus (The Southern Fish). This image from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) shows Fomalhaut (centre) encircled by a ring of dusty debris this is the first time this scene has been captured at such high resolution and sensitivity at millimetre wavelengths. Fomalhauts disc comprises a mix of cosmic dust and gas from comets in the Fomalhaut system (exocomets), released as the exocomets graze past and smash into one another. This turbulent environment resembles an early period in our own Solar System known as the Late Heavy Bombardment, which occurred approximately four billions years ago. This era saw huge numbers of rocky objects hurtle into the inner Solar System and collide with the young terrestrial planets, including Earth, where they formed a myriad of impact craters many of which remain visible today on the surfaces of planets such as Mercury and Mars. Fomalhaut is known to be surrounded by several discs of debris the one visible in this ALMA image is the outermost one. The ring is approximately 20 billion kilometers from the central star and about 2 billion kilometers wide. Such a relative narrow, eccentric disc can only be produced by the gravitational influence of planets in the system, like Jupiters gravitational influence on our asteroid belt. In 2008 the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope discovered the famous exoplanet Fomalhaut b orbiting within this belt, but the planet is not visible in this ALMA image. Link: NRAO press release

Image Source: https://www.eso.org/public/images/potw1721a/

Curator: European Southern Observatory, Garching bei München, Germany

Image Use Policy: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Fomalhaut
Subject - Milky Way
Star » Circumstellar Material » Disk » Debris
Eso_potw1721a_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 22h 57m 39.1s
DEC = -29° 37’ 18.5”
Orientation
North is 90.0° CW
Field of View
0.5 x 0.7 arcminutes
Constellation
Piscis Austrinus

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_orange Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (Band 6) Millimeter (230.538 GHz) 1.3 mm
Spectrum_ir1
Arrow_top_orange
Eso_potw1721a_1280
×
ID
potw1721a
Subject Category
B.3.7.2.3  
Subject Name
Fomalhaut
Credits
ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/L. Matrà/M. A. MacGregor
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
https://www.eso.org/public/images/potw1721a/
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Distance Notes
Facility
Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
Instrument
Band 6
Color Assignment
Orange
Band
Millimeter
Bandpass
230.538 GHz
Central Wavelength
1300000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
344.412728387, -29.6218084824
Reference Dimension
2064.0, 3191.0
Reference Pixel
1595.0, 1032.5
Scale
-3.63563211306592E-06, 3.63563211306592E-06
Rotation
-89.960000000000022
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Position
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
European Southern Observatory
URL
http://www.eso.org
Name
Bill Saxton
Email
bsaxton@nrao.edu
Telephone
434-296-0268
Address
Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2
City
Garching bei München
State/Province
Postal Code
D-85748
Country
Germany
Rights
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Publisher
European Southern Observatory
Publisher ID
eso
Resource ID
potw1721a
Metadata Date
2017-05-18T12:45:42+02:00
Metadata Version
1.1
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

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There is no distance meta data in this image.