Ice Ring around nearby Star Fomalhaut

This impressive visible in the night sky star, lies only 25 light-years away and is known to be orbited by at least one planet, Dagon, and several inner dust disks.

More intriguing, perhaps, is an outer ring, first discovered about 20 years ago, that has an unusually sharp inner boundary. The featured recent image by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) shows this outer ring with complete and unprecedented detail — in pink — superposed on a Hubble image of the Fomalhaut system in blue. A leading theory holds that this ring resulted from numerous violent collisions involving icy comets and planetesimals, the component objects of planets, while the ring boundaries are caused by the gravity of yet unseen planets.

The presence of this well-defined debris disk around Fomalhaut, along with its curiously familiar chemistry, may indicate that this system is undergoing its own version of the Late Heavy Bombardment, a period approximately 4 billion years ago when the Earth and other planets were routinely struck by swarms of asteroids and comets left over from the formation of the Solar System.


sources APOD,  Almaobservatory