Exozodiacal Light Makes Search for Habitable Planets more Difficult

Scientists believe that the light reflected from space dust and grit from asteroid collision known as exozodiacal light prevents them from finding small exoplanets and their alien suns.

The Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) located in Chile detected the light from distant galaxies. Main aim of the VLTI is to study and monitor 92 local star systems. Data was gathered from previous and new studies to come up with a clearer picture.

It was found that these light formations cover probable habitable areas in nine alien systems. Experts said that zodiacal light can be seen on earth in areas having complete dark skies. There a white glow radiates from the horizon around the sun and it can be before sunrise and immediately after the sunset.

Zodiacal light seen on earth's skies comes from the sunlight reflecting off gas and dust surrounding the sun. On the other hand, it was the first time that the exozodiacal light detected by the VLTI telescope was seen on alien solar systems.

Using the data, astronomers were able to study the light in greater detail. Researchers said that exozodiacal dust was 1,000 times brighter than the one visible in our Solar System. Olivier Absil of the University of Liège and the co-author of this study, affirmed that this light can lead to the detection of alien planets.

"If we want to study the evolution of Earth-like planets close to the habitable zone, we need to observe the zodiacal dust in this region around other stars", affirmed Steve Ertel, from ESO and the University of Grenoble in France.

Ertel affirmed that detecting and studying this type of dust around other stars is a way to study the architecture and evolution of planetary systems. Olivier Absil, co-author of the paper, from the University of Liège, affirmed that the high detection rate at this bright level suggests that there must be many systems having faintest dust.