NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
What may be another solar system 50 light years away is seen in this charge-coupled device (CCD) picture of a circumstellar disk of material, viewed edge-on (red & yellow), around the star Beta Pictoris. The disk probably consists of ices, carbonaceous organic substances and silicates, the same materials from which our planets are formed. It extends 60 billion km from the star, which is hidden behind a circular occulting mask at the centre of the picture. The fine dark lines that intersect in the middle of the picture & the black arcs around Beta Pictoris itself are artefacts of the imaging technique. Image taken on the 2.5m telescope at Las Campanas Observatory, Chile.
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