August 28, 2009--
The dusty disk around the star known as HD 32297 is scattered by "winds" of interstellar gas, as seen in a recently released false-color picture taken by the Hubble Space Telescope
Such disks around distant stars are thought to contain asteroid-like chunks of material--including seeds of future planets--which collide and create fine dust. But as the star and its disk move through space, they encounter thin clouds of gas, which cause the smallest dust particles to drag, giving the disks their warped appearance.
"It looks like interstellar gas helps young planetary systems shed dust, much as a summer breeze helps dandelions scatter seeds," study co-author Marc Kuchner, of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement.
Image courtesy NASA/ESA/D. Hines (Space Science Inst., New Mexico) and G. Schneider (Univ. of Arizona)