Dust turns up everywhere — on bookshelves, under the sofa, and now, apparently, in rings around Mercury.
Astronomers have made a surprising discovery, finding a ring of cosmic dust in an unexpected place in our solar system.
Solar scientists Guillermo Stenborg and Russell Howard from the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. did not set out looking for dust.
Just the opposite — they were looking for a dust-free region close to the Sun in preparation for the explorations performed by the Parker Solar Probe.
Scientists believe there should be a region close to the Sun where the heat from the star would vaporize any dust, and finding the edge of this region would tell us more about what cosmic dust is made of and how planets formed in a young solar system.
Instead, Stenborg and Howard stumbled across a “fine haze of cosmic dust” sprinkled across the orbit of Mercury, which forms a ring that is 9.3 million miles wide.