Debris Disk Rings, No Planets Needed

Debris Disk Rings, No Planets Needed

Debris disks form rings.jpg

Beautiful rings forming in the debris disks around distant stars were thought to be a sign that exoplanets were present. New research has now shown that these rings can form without the need for exoplanets. It turns out in simulations that you only need roughly equal parts of dust and gas to form the rings.

How do the Rings Form?

The theory is that the rings form when electrons are knocked off the dust atoms by the  high energy ultraviolet light from the nearby star. This causes the gas to increase in temperature which in turn creates a drag force on the dust which makes it clump together. It's the clumping of the dust that forms the rings like the ones in the picture above.

This new information could make finding exoplanets that little bit harder.

Image credit: NASA Goddard/JPL-Caltech

More information and the full scientific paper in Nature can be found here:


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