Astronomers have solved one of the mysteries of our nearest star system

Astronomers have announced the discovery of the rings of cold cosmic dust surrounding a nearby star to the solar system - a dim red dwarf Proxima Centauri. Opening says that this star, among other things, is home to the nearest Earth-like planets that scientists have found in the past year, may be part of a much more complex planetary system than it seemed before.

Astronomers have solved one of the mysteries of our nearest star system

Using data from the Atacama large antenna array millimeter-wave (ALMA), a complex of radio telescopes located in Chile's Atacama Desert, the research team was able to identify the dim glow that appeared to create a belt of dust around Proxima Centauri, at a distance of several hundred million kilometers . Scientists say that the belt consists of different kinds of outer material (stone dust) as well as ice and has an extremely low temperature of about -230 degrees Celsius, which makes it as cold as Kuiper belt in our solar system.

Because usually these cosmic belts are over the matter of the accretion disk orbiting the star and served as the source material for the formation of new planets, it would be logical to assume that within this star system can be significantly more planets than we have been able to date detect.

"Dust around Proxima is a very important indicator, since it is the first sign indicating the presence of more complex planetary systems and not just one planet" - said the head of the research project Guillem Anglada, an astronomer at the Astrophysical Institute of Andalucia.

A further data collection has forced scientists to make another assumption, according to which the system can surround extra, even colder times of cosmic dust around a star located at a distance ten times further. After collecting and analyzing all the data, the astronomers created a small sketch of how to actually might look like Proxima Centauri system (image below). Most researchers intrigued by the fact that there is a distance of about 1, 6 astronomical units from the star.

Astronomers have solved one of the mysteries of our nearest star system

"According to one alternative models on the boundary of an inner ring, approximately 1 and 6. e. from the star is an unknown source of interference, which can be a planet. Giant planet "- the researchers report in the published results of their work.

This "unknown source" marked by the number 3 in the image above. Despite the fact that the earlier long-term observations of Proxima Centauri did not show any signs of such a planet, researchers are not ready to rule out this possibility.

"to confirm or refute this hypothesis will be carried out additional monitoring of the system" - they add.

So far, the system Proxima Centauri confirmed the presence of only one planet. The presence of Proxima b (so-called planet) was confirmed in August 2016 by scientists of the European Southern Observatory. At the same time it was announced that Proxima b is the nearest to Earth exoplanet located in the so-called habitable zone. Just a couple of months scientists have made a new statement, reporting completion of calculations, which showed that Proxima b can be covered with liquid water and have thin gaseous atmosphere, which certainly would increase the potential of its potential habitability. Earlier this year, we found that, despite its initial appeal, at Proxima b has a serious drawback. And this deficiency is a red dwarf star that is the star around which this planet. Unstable behavior and dwarf stellar wind, which he throws to the side of the planet is likely to make it a pretty harsh place to live. Moreover, some astronomers believe that the power of this stellar wind is so strong that literally blows away the thin atmosphere Proxima b, making this the world is completely lifeless. Not all agree with these conclusions. There are, however, and those who believe a paradise planet and our future habitat.

Definitive conclusions about Proxima b do not yet possible. And most likely, the true state of affairs around it we will not know until then, until you send to the spacecraft, which would be able to collect more scientific data. But we now know about the presence of several rings around the system, which can be an indicator of the presence of a greater number of planets in it. This, in turn, makes the space mission to get even more desirable.

"These results hint at the existence of the present system, Proxima Centauri planets with a long history of interaction with each other, turning the formation of the dust ring", - says Anglada.

At the same time, scientists add that constant monitoring of the closest systems increases our understanding of the birth of our own solar system.

"These observations, combined with studies of protoplanetary disks around young stars can reveal to us many details about the processes which led to the formation of the Earth and the solar system about 4, 6 billion years ago," - says one of the team of researchers of the Astrophysical Institute Andalusia, astronomer Pedro Amado.

Conclusions research described today will soon be published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.