Using the powerful eyes of the James Webb telescope, astronomers have managed to discover new precious details of the many objects and dust that surround the star Fomalhaut (25 light years away from us) and that suggest the presence of a planetary system. Perhaps the ghost planet Fomalhaut-b, about whose real existence there have always been many doubts.

The new data were presented in the study led by András Gáspár, of the University of Arizona at Tucson, and published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Among the brightest stars in the night sky, Fomalhaut has been at the center of a lively scientific debate for years, since 1983 when the Iras space telescope observed what many believed were the unequivocal signs of the presence of a circumstellar disk, that is, dust and debris inside which there were planets in formation.

In 2008, researchers were able to observe a bright dot that was identified as a planet, the first to have ever been photographed directly in visible light. But that interpretation was disputed by many astronomers, including Gáspár, as the alleged planet was not visible in other wavelengths.

The new images from James Webb show an already known outer ring, considered analogous to the Kuiper belt, and a never-before-seen narrow middle belt, which could be shaped by the gravitational influence of unknown planets, suggesting the presence of a planet in the interval between the bands.

The newly uncovered intermediate belt is misaligned with respect to the outer belt. According to the authors, it could be the origin of a previously known dust cloud, generated by a collision. The images also reveal a large cloud of dust inside the outer ring, potentially created by another collision. "The structures of the debris belts, their alignment and evidence of collision events suggest that Fomalhaut is surrounded by a dynamically active planetary system," said Andràs Gàspàr.


The discs around the star Fomalhaut