Powers of 60 Multimessenger Astronomy Exhibition

Powers of 60 Exhibition

First milestone: 60 light years from Earth

Beta Pictoris

TV and radio signals from the Queen's coronation - spreading outwards through the galaxy at the speed of light - will soon reach our near-neighbour Beta Pictoris, about sixty light years from Earth. This star system is known to be very young, less than 20 million years old, and the star is still surrounded by a large debris disk of dust and gas in which planets are still forming. This was the first such debris disk to be imaged directly around a star, although other spectacular examples have followed - such as the Hubble Space Telescope's direct imaging of a planet in the debris disk of the nearby star Fomalhaut.

Beta Pictoris

In 2006 NASA's FUSE satellite, looking in ultra-violet light, discovered large amounts of the element carbon in the Beta Pictoris system. In the above artist's conception we see new planets forming in the debris disk around this very young star.

Main image credit: NASA/FUSE/Lynette Cook