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An eccentric debris disk circling a nearby star

Eccentric debris disk around star.

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, astronomers have discovered that the debris disk surrounding a star about 60 light years away, discovered in 2006 by the Hubble Space Telescope, is not circular, but instead forms an eccentric ring about the star.

The photo to the right combines the Hubble data (the blue background) and the ALMA data (the orange-yellow ring). The star is the bright spot in the ring, not in its center but at one of the ellipse’s two foci.

This level of eccentricity, MacGregor said, makes HD 53143 the most eccentric debris disk observed to date, being twice as eccentric as the Fomalhaut debris disk, which MacGregor fully imaged at millimeter wavelengths using ALMA in 2017. “So far, we have not found many disks with a significant eccentricity. In general, we don’t expect disks to be very eccentric unless something, like a planet, is sculpting them and forcing them to be eccentric. Without that force, orbits tend to circularize, like what we see in our own Solar System.”

In other words, there must be at least one hidden planet, maybe more, orbiting the star, its gravity forcing the disk into this shape.

Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

2 comments

  • If the ring forms an ellipse — and the star visible within that ring is deemed to be located at (one of) the focus(es) of that ellipse — then for that to be true, the ring-ellipse must actually be angled toward (or away) from us at a considerable angle. It can be nowhere close to face-on.

  • If it takes a star to form one focus of the ellipse, could a co-orbiting brown dwarf be at the other focus? Also curious about the color rendition. If the colors correspond to energy, then the debris ring appears to be as energetic, if not more so, than the visible star.

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