Astronomers have revealed that their efforts to spot earth-like planets, also called as exo-planets, could be undermined by space dust and grit from asteroid collisions in addition to comet remnants. According to them, exozodiacal light, which is a light reflected from dust and grime of asteroids, could hide exo-planets and their alien suns.
The researchers put the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) located in Chile into use to detect the exozodical light from far away galaxies. Researchers compared the results with the data available from previous studies to produce a clearer, more complete picture. Habitable areas in nine alien star systems were probably surrounded by these light formations.
Zodiacal light can be seen from earth as a white glow in areas with completely dark skies. It seems to be emanating from the horizon around the sun. The best time to spot zodiacal light is usually before sunrise or right after sunset. According to experts, the white glow appears to be triangular in shape and it seems to emanate directly from the sun itself.
Sunlight reflecting off gas and dust surrounding the sun lead to creation of zodiacal light seen on earth’s skies. However, it was certainly the first time when the exozodiacal light was witnessed on alien solar systems, thanks to the VLTI telescope.
Details of the study have been published online this week in the journal Nature Physics.