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Stars to Tell Us More about Early Solar System

Scientists from NASA have sent a NASA's SOFIA aircraft over the Pacific west of Mexico. This aircraft is loaded with a 2.5-meter telescope in the back and exposed of most creature comforts in the front.

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy aircraft was just beginning the second half of an overnight mission on Jan. 28, 2015. It turned north for a flight all the way to western Oregon, then back home to NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, California.

Along the way, pilots steered the plane to aim the telescope at a nearby star.

Scientists from Iowa State University's Massimo Marengo and other astronomers were on board to observe the mission and collect infrared data about the star. The star is called epsilon Eridani, stated the astronomers.

 It is about 10 light-years away from the sun. It is parallel to our sun, but one-fifth the age. Additionally, astronomers believe it can tell them a lot about the progress of our solar system. Marengo, an Iowa State associate professor of physics and astronomy, and other astronomers have been researching the star and its planetary system since 2004.

In a 2009 scientific paper, the scientists used data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. This research happened to describe the star's disk of fine dust and debris left over from the formation of the planets. Moreover, the scientists also found out about new collisions of asteroids and comets during the research. The researchers reported the disk contained separate belts of asteroids, similar to the asteroid and Kuiper belts of our solar system.


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