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bananas's Journal
Posted by bananas in Science
Sat Nov 26th 2011, 01:21 PM
http://www.universetoday.com/91283/first-a... /

First Amateur Image of Another Solar System
by Nancy Atkinson on November 25, 2011



Amateur astronomer Rolf Wahl Olsen from New Zealand shared an image with Universe Today, and it is perhaps the first image of another solar system taken by an amateur. The image above is Olsen’s image of the protoplanetary disc around Beta Pictoris.

“For the last couple of years I have been wondering if it was possible for amateurs to capture this special target but have never come across any such images,” Olsen wrote in an email. “I must say it feels really special to have actually captured this.”

Olsen said he has been fascinated by professional images of Beta Pictoris since seeing the first one in taken in 1984.

Beta Pictoris and the protoplanetary disc of debris and dust that is orbiting the star is 63.4 light years away from Earth. This is a very young system thought to be only around 12 million years old and astronomers think this is essentially how our own Solar System must have formed some 4.5 billion years ago. The disc is seen edge-on from our perspective and appears in professional images as thin wedges or lines protruding radially from the central star in opposite directions.

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