The Vega Particulate Shell: Comets or Asteroids?

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Science  01 Jun 1984:
Vol. 224, Issue 4652, pp. 987-989
DOI: 10.1126/science.224.4652.987


The Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) science team has discovered a shell of particulate material around the star Vega. At the mean distance and temperature of the shell, the expected condensation products from a protostellar nebula would be dominated by frozen volatiles, in particular water ice. It is not possible to discriminate between dirty ice and silicate materials in the Vega shell on the basis of the IRAS data. The Vega shell is probably a ring of cometary bodies with an estimated minimum mass of 15 earth masses, analogous to one that has been hypothesized for the solar system. A possible hot inner shell around Vega may be an asteroid-like belt of material a few astronomical units from the star.

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