The Herschel Space Observatory has studied the dusty beltz around the nearby star Fomalhaut.
As said scientists the dust appears to be coming from collisions that destroy up to thousands of icy comets every day. Fomalhaut is a young star, just a few hundred million years old, and twice as massive as the sun. Fomalhaut’s comet belt arrangement is similar to the Kuiper beltz of icy objects beyond the orbit of Neptune in our own solar system. Scientists have known about a dust cloud surrounding Fomalhaut since the 1980s, though now the Herschel observatory has revealed the ring in greater detail than ever before. Herschel’s new images of the belt show it in much more detail at longer infrared wavelengths than ever before.The results indicate the grains in the dust belt are fluffy and tiny, only a few millionths of a meter across (one meter is about 3 feet). They are similar to dust particles released from comets in our own solar system. Bram Acke of the University of Leuven in Belgium led the observations. He and his colleagues say the dust is being regenerated in the belt through continuous collisions between comets. Depending on comets‘ sizes, there could be between 260 billion and 83 trillion comets in the dust belt around the star, the researchers found. If you combined the amount of material in Fomalhaut’s dust belt, the mass would be the equivalent of 110 Earths, they added. Herschel observations found that the dust belt’s temperature ranges between minus 382 and minus 274 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 230 and minus 170 degrees Celsius) on average.