This artist's impression shows the orbits of planets and comets around the star 61 Vir, superimposed on a view from the Herschel Space Telescope.
The line drawing gives a schematic representation of the location and orientation of the star, planets and outer debris disk of comets, albeit not to scale. The black oval outline sketched onto the Herschel data represents the innermost boundary of the debris disk; the approximate location of the outermost boundary is represented by the outer set of dashed lines. It is not possible to identify the central star due to smearing of the Herschel data.
The two planets around 61 Vir have masses between 5 and 18 Earth masses and are both located within 0.22 astronomical units of the central star (an astronomical unit is the distance between Earth and the sun). The vast debris disk extends from approximately 30 to 100 astronomical units.
Herschel is a European Space Agency cornerstone mission, with science instruments provided by consortia of European institutes and with important participation by NASA. NASA's Herschel Project Office is based at JPL, which contributed mission-enabling technology for two of Herschel's three science instruments. The NASA Herschel Science Center, part of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, supports the United States astronomical community. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.