NASA Just Found A Nearby Planetary System, All Thanks To SOFIA

planetary system

SOFIA, one of NASA’s associates, helped find a nearby planetary system, very similar to ours.

A NASA-affiliated telescope project captured hyper-detailed images that reveal a nearby planetary system remarkably similar to our own, only much younger at only 500 million-years-old.

Parked 10.5 light years away, in the constellation Eridanus, is a star called Epsilon Eridani, eps Eri, for short. All signs point to it being a doppelgänger of the Sun, complete with a similar planetary scheme.

Epsilon Eridani: Our Planetary System, Only Younger?

So, why do scientists believe this nearby planetary system mirrors the Solar System? For starters, a “Sun” seemingly anchors both areas. Moreover, the cluster is home to a Jupiter-esque planet that orbits the same distance from eps Eri as Jupiter does from ou Sun.
It also features an asteroid belt, like Jupiter. Additionally, the Epsilon Eridani architecture includes a comet belt that appears to hold the same properties as the Kuiper Belt, which sits on the far side of Neptune.
SOFIA, which stands for Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy, is a modern scientific marvel. It is a Boeing 747SP jetliner modified to accommodate a 2.5-meter telescope. This is specially developed to observe long infrared wavelengths.Previously, scientists relied on feedback from NASA’s Spitzer telescope that featured a 33.5-inch lens diameter. Thanks to it, they were able to cull significant data from Spitzer. Still, SOFIA’s large 100-inch lens allows researchers to observe details with greater precision.

Astronomers have been studying eps Eri since 2004. The last major news about the system came in 2009. This touched on dust and debris clusters that presumably formed in the wake of comet collisions and planet formation.

Researchers are confident that Epsilon Eridani will give insight into some of our still unanswered questions. For example, “How and when, exactly, do planets form?”. Or “In what order do planets take shape in a galactic system?”

Kate Su, whose research team is studying eps Eri at the University of Arizona, summed up the simple, yet fascinating, findings, opining the following.
“It really is impressive how esp Eri, a much younger version of our Solar System, is put together like ours.”
Image Source: Wikimedia
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Roxanne Briean

I am a geek, a gamer and a writer. I have always been fascinated with the online community. At the moment I work as a full-time writer and study interior design. When I'm not scouring the net in search of interesting new gadgets and software I spend my time in MOBAs or drawing.