NICMOS Archival Images of Five Debris Disks
These images reveal five planetary debris disks uncovered in images around young stars that astronomers retrieved from the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST). Hubble's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer observed the disks in near-infrared light between 1999 and 2007. Astronomers used a coronagraph to block out the bright light from each star so they could analyze the faint, reflected light off dust particles in the disks. Recently applied new image processing techniques allowed astronomers to subtract excess starlight that escaped beyond the coronagraph to clearly reveal the debris disks. The disks around HD 30447, HD 35841, and HD 141943 appear edge-on; the other two appear inclined. The Sun-like star HD 141943 is about the same age as our Sun when terrestrial planets like Earth were forming from material in its debris disk.