PIA12336: A Picture of Unsettled Planetary Youth
Target Name: HR 8799
Mission: Spitzer Space Telescope
Instrument: MIPS
Product Size: 1100 x 1100 pixels (width x height)
Produced By: California Institute of Technology
Full-Res TIFF: PIA12336.tif (1.213 MB)
Full-Res JPEG: PIA12336.jpg (40.46 kB)

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Original Caption Released with Image:

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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.

Image Credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Ariz.

Image Addition Date:
2009-11-04