Planet Formation

One of Spitzer’s design goals was to enable astronomers to study the infrared glow of dust and debris orbiting distant stars. This is the source material for building new planets, and it can provide the tell-tale sign of asteroid belts in systems in which planets have already formed.

Spitzer was able to scrutinize otherwise unseen dust disks around young stars, identifying temperatures and composition as well as finding evidence for planets in the process of forming. It likewise found systems possessing asteroid belts similar to our own, providing clues to as-yet undiscovered planets within the same systems.

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