NEW YORK — Scientists have detected evidence that one or more planets may be orbiting a nearby star.
Dust surrounding the star Beta Pictoris in a huge disk was found to be relatively sparse in a region near the star, perhaps because the gravity of one or more planets has swept much of it up.
This inner region also had more dust on one side of the star than the other side, again suggesting a tug from planetary gravity.
Pierre-Olivier Lagage, who is an astrophysicist with France's Atomic Energy Commission in Gifsur-Yvette, and a colleague report the work in the June 23 issue of the journal Nature.
David C. Black, chairman of a National Aeronautics and Space Administration advisory committee on searching for other planetary systems, agreed. "I think the evidence is certainly not compelling," Black said.