Exocomets plunging into a young star (artist’s impression)

This artist’s impression shows several comets speeding across a vast protoplanetary disc of gas and dust and heading straight for the youthful, central star of the system. These "kamikaze" comets will eventually plunge into the star and vaporise. The comets are too small to be imaged, but their gaseous spectral "fingerprints" on the star's light were detected with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The gravitational influence of a suspected Jupiter-sized planet in the foreground may have catapulted the comets into the star.

This star, called HD 172555, represents the third extrasolar system where astronomers have detected doomed, wayward comets. The star resides 95 light-years from Earth.


NASA, ESA, and A. Feild and G. Bacon (STScI)

About the Image

Release date:11 January 2017, 15:58
Size:3300 x 2400 px

About the Object

Name:HD 172555
Type:Milky Way : Interplanetary Body : Comet

Image Formats

Large JPEG
1.6 MB
Screensize JPEG
254.6 KB


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