Evidence of zodiacal light on other habitable worlds

Details in the dust

The team’s illustrations portray a poetic sense of possible views. On Kepler-1229b and Kepler-395c, the red host stars would render an almost volcanic zodiacal light. On Kepler-69c, the planet’s Venusian environment could turn its zodiacal light into a white spotlight in a dark, muted sky.

These results are not only aesthetic. The presence of dust suggests that there could be – especially in the two younger systems – active formation of small objects like moons and minor planets. This perspective may help foster future research into how these smaller objects can both collide with and stabilize exoplanets.

“Younger planetary systems experience more activity (such as comet activity and asteroid collisions),” Ge said. Astronomy. But “we cannot rule out that some older systems are experiencing occasional activity.” For example, the oldest system, Kepler-69, may have experienced increased activity — such as collisions or cometary activity — near the star while Kepler was observing it, Ge says.

As for anyone – or anything – looking up from these planets to see the zodiacal light, well, theoretically it is.

Although Ge says astronomers have found debris disks around other systems before, none of them were considered habitable. “Our work is the first ever on zodiacal light and debris disks around habitable planetary systems,” says Ge.

So the next time you seek the zodiacal light here on Earth, you may be able to stretch your imagination to other worlds where the eyes also look.

Comments are closed.