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Two Families of Exocomets Circle Nearby Star
Sometimes, it seems as though exoplanets have all the fun. But they’re not the only exo-things out there, and this week, exocomets are taking center stage. Almost 500 of them, in fact.
Those exocomets are all circling a young, nearby star called Beta Pictoris. Rather than flying randomly through their stellar system, though, the comets are organized into two distinct populations, astronomers report in Nature.
One of those faraway families appears to be older, and orbits nearer the star. The other looks fresher and orbits farther away.
“This can be explained if the first family is composed of aged comets influenced by the gravity of a massive planet,” says astronomer Flavien Kiefer of the Paris Institute of