Imprimir Republish


Astronomers identify 30 exocomets in Beta Pictoris

Artist's depiction of the star Beta Pictoris, its planets, and the comets

Nasa / Fuse / Lynette Cook

Beta Pictoris, a young extrasolar system formed just over 20 million years ago, is located roughly 63 light-years from Earth. Its star, which is nine times brighter than the Sun and has 75% more mass, is orbited by two planets, as well as smaller objects and a disk formed of gas and dust. Based on observations made between October 2018 and February 2021 by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), an international group of astronomers, which included Brazilian scientist Eder Martioli of the National Astrophysics Laboratory (LNA) in Minas Gerais and the Astrophysics Laboratory in Paris, France, identified the presence of at least 30 exocomets orbiting Beta Pictoris. The team’s analysis revealed that the cores of these objects range from 3 kilometers (km) to 14 km in diameter. They also found for the first time that the proportion of exocomets—which vary in size—is similar to our Solar System and corresponds to the number expected for a population of objects resulting from collisions and fragmentation (Scientific Reports, April 28).