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A second star that is orbited by cool, solid material like that discovered around the star Vega has been found in data from the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS), which NASA launched Jan. 25, 1983.
IRAS, joint project of the U.S, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, made similar discovery earlier this year when it found cool, solid material orbiting the star Vega. It was the first direct evidence of any solid material orbiting star other than the Sun.
The star is called Fomalhaut (or Alpha PsA). It is the brightest in the constellation Piscis Austrinus, the "southern fish." Astronomers say Fomalhaut is about 22 light years from Earth and has been studied as standard star by spectroscopists for decades.
Like the material around Vega, the material around Fomalhaut is probably small, ranging upwards from the size of grains of sand.
Dr. Fred Gillett of the IRAS science team said Fomalhaut is about 12 times more luminous than the Sun. It is little closer to us than Vega.
Fomalhaut is one-fifth as bright as Vega. It is also cooler than Vega -- about 8,800 degrees Kelvin (15,500 degrees Fahrenheit), compared to 9,600 degrees Kelvin (16,800 degrees Fahrenheit) for Vega -- and therefore expected to have much longer lifetime.
The data on Fomalhaut will be analyzed more fully and detailed results will be presented at scientific meeting in Tucson, Ariz., in early Janurary 1984.
IRAS was jointly developed and operated by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Netherlands Agency for Aerospace Programs (NIVR) and the United Kingdom's Science and Engineering Research Council. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is the U.S. management center of the project.