Major smashups between rocky bodies shaped our solar system. Observations of a similar crash give clues about how frequent these events are around other stars.

Most of the rocky planets and satellites in our solar system, including Earth and the Moon, were formed or shaped by massive collisions early in the solar system’s history. By smashing together, rocky bodies can accumulate more material, increasing in size, or they can break apart into multiple smaller bodies.

Astronomers using NASA’s now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope have in the past found evidence of these types of collisions around young stars where rocky planets are forming. But those observations didn’t provide many details about the smashups, such as the size of the objects involved.

This illustration depicts the result of a collision between two large asteroid-sized bodies: a massive debris cloud around a young star. NASA’s Spitzer saw a debris cloud block the star HD 166191, giving scientists details about the smashup that occurred.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech




这张插图描绘了两个小行星大小的大型天体之间碰撞的结果:围绕一颗年轻恒星的巨大碎片云。NASA的斯皮策发现一片碎片云阻挡了恒星HD 166191,为科学家提供了发生碰撞的细节。


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