Printer Friendly

Star sockets spark dusty theories.

Star sockets spark dusty theories

Two years ago, a NASA astronomer found something missing when he began reviewing photographs and computer images of certain stars, many of them located in the Orion constellation. The stars appeared to be surrounded by empty space, as if they were sitting in "sockets," as wide as 0.1 light-year, observed Walter A. Feibelman of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. He speculated the mysterious sockets might have been formed by stars that exerted enough radiation pressure to push away dust and gas.

Intrigued by the Feibelman's finding, Michael W. Castelaz of the University of Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory decided to investigate further. But Castelaz reached a different conclusion. He theorized that the sockets might be shells of matter, envelopes of warm dust that should glow in the infrared. When Castelaz consulted a star catalog, he found infrared intensity measurements for 17 of Feibelman's 36 socket stars in the Orion constellation. Fourteen of the 17 emitted unusually intense infrared light, supporting the dust theory, he now reports. Castelaz suggests the dust may be left over from the material that formed the apparently young stars.

Taking this idea a tantalizing step farther, he speculates the dust cloud may be a younger version of the Oort cloud, a shell of comets believed to encircle our solar system. If that theory is confirmed, the regions around socket stars may be prime candidates in the search for planetary systems, he says.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Cowen, Ron
Publication:Science News
Date:Jan 27, 1990
Previous Article:Magnetic star attracts astronomers.
Next Article:Birth defects jump when mom needs insulin.

Related Articles
The strings at the heart of Orion.
The winds of starbirth: stellar winds may play a crucial role in the formation of sun-like stars.
Probing a dusty theory of star formation.
A dozen new planets ... and still counting.
Dusty disks may reveal hidden worlds; on the trail of extrasolar planets.
Enigmatic eruption: the strange case of V838 Monocerotis.
Two suns in the sky.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |