PIA12336: A Picture of Unsettled Planetary Youth

A Picture of Unsettled Planetary Youth


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Debris Disk around Star HR 8799
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NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope captured this infrared image of a giant halo of very fine dust around the young star HR 8799, located 129 light-years away in the constellation Pegasus. The brightest parts of this dust cloud (yellow-white) likely come from the outer cold disk similar to our own Kuiper belt (beyond Neptune's orbit). The huge extended dust halo is seen as orange-red.

Astronomers think that the three large planets known to orbit the star are disturbing small comet-like bodies, causing them to collide and kick up dust. The extended dust halo has a diameter of about 2,000 astronomical units, or 2,000 times the distance between Earth and the sun. For reference, the size of Pluto's orbit is tiny by comparison, with a diameter of about 80 astronomical units.

This image was captured by Spitzer's multiband imaging photometer at an infrared wavelength of 70 microns in Jan. 2009.

Cataloging Keywords:

Name Value Additional Values
Target HR 8799 Earth, Neptune, Pluto, Sun
System Earth, Neptune, Pluto
Target Type Earth Comet, Dwarf Planet, Planet, Sun
Mission Spitzer Space Telescope
Instrument Host
Host Type
Instrument MIPS
Extra Keywords Color, Dust, Infrared
Acquisition Date
Release Date 2009-11-04
Date in Caption
Image Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Ariz.
Source photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA12336
Identifier PIA12336