Dust produced by the collision of very small planets called planetesimals, comets, and asteroids is the sign of potentially habitable planets. Astronomers from the European Southern Observatory in Santiago, Chile and the University of Grenoble in France are the first to prove the connection between the dust and habitable planets. The discovery was reported European Southern Observatory website on Nov. 3, 2014.
The scientists used the Very Large Telescope Interferometer in near-infrared light to observe exozodiacal light around 92 stars that are close enough to Earth to be considered to have habitable planets. The dust produces a glow around planets that is observable in the infrared spectrum. The glow cannot be seen from Earth but can be seen around Earth from space. Exozodiacal means the light comes from outside the Earth’s planetary system.
Suns and planets that exhibit the faint glow have the potential to contain planets that would be conducive to human life. The systems that do not display the light phenomenon do not present much hope for a human friendly planet. The reason for this is that planet formation produced the dust and the assumption is that similar conditions would produce a planet similar to Earth.
The researchers found that the dust and the faint light it produces are over 1,000 times larger than expected. The assumption was that collisions that produce dust would diminish over time. The light was more prevalent is star systems that are known to have planets that are similar to Earth. Possibly the universe is pointing the way to humanities new homes. The researches note that while the glow of light may indicate a habitable planet an excess of dust makes finding the planet more difficult.