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Exoplanet Collision at BD +20 307?

25 Oct 2019, 14:45 UTC
Exoplanet Collision at BD +20 307?
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NASA collaborates with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) on one of our more interesting observatories. SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, is a Boeing 747 aircraft that flies an infrared telescope with a 2.7 m diameter mirror. Located on the port side of the fuselage near the tail, the telescope houses a number of instruments for infrared astronomy at wavelengths from 1–655 micrometers (μm). One of these is FORCAST (Faint Object Infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope), which has now spotted an intriguing phenomenon, one that may be flagging a collision of two exoplanets.
The stars in question form a double system called BD +20 307, some 300 light years from Earth. Note the age of this system, about one billion years, an important consideration in what follows. About ten years ago, observations from the Spitzer instrument as well as ground observatories produced evidence of warm debris here, whereas from age alone, we would have expected warm circumstellar dust to have disappeared, just as it has in our own system.
What SOFIA brings to the table is a new set of measurements that shows the infrared brightness from the debris at BD +20 307 has increased by more than ...

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