Extrasolar meteors hint at distant planet formation

Candian astronomers say that detecting microscopic meteors from other solar systems could provide clues about the formation of planets like Earth. Dust streams from our sun’s stellar neighbours consist of tiny grains of pulverized rock ejected from a disk of dust and debris that commonly surrounds young stars, says Joseph Weingartner, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto’s Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics. According to Professor Norman Murray, associate director of CITA and co-author of the study, “if we can detect these grains and trace them back to the star system that they came from, we’d have very good evidence of planet formation going on in that system.” Weingartner presented the study Jan. 6 at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle, Wash.