Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Sauron Lives!

According to New Scientist, this is a picture of dust particles in orbit around Fomalhaut, a bright star located just 25 light years away in the constellation Pisces Austalis. (I suppose that means it's viewable from New Zealand, meaning somebody Up There is keeping an eye on Peter Jackson's Middle Earth.)

The most likely explanation is that the gravity of one or more unseen planets is dragging the ring askew. The fact that the inner edge of the ring is relatively well-defined adds further weight to the argument because it suggests the unseen planets are sweeping up stray dust within the radius of the ring.

The image was captured by astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley, US, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center using Hubble’s coronagraph. This device blocks the glare of a star while gathering the faint reflected light from any surrounding ring.

Boy, they really can get imaginative with those image enhancements, can't they?