Infrared inferences of planetary systems among the nearby stars

Jeffrey Van Cleve, George Rieke, Dale Cruikshank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The infrared excesses observed around nearby main-sequence stars such as α Lyr and β Pic are often taken as evidence that planetary system formation has occurred around them, in a process similar to the one which we believe produced our own Solar System. However, it is also possible that such disks are evidence that planetesimals have ground themselves to bits without forming large solid bodies. A critical missing piece of data is the infrared excess of the Solar System at 60 and 100 μm. It is not known whether the typical excess of the G stars observed by IRAS is comparable to the Solar System excess. While IRAS measurements of diffuse emission near the ecliptic are consistent with such a cold cloud, confusion with the foreground of zodiacal emission and the background of Galactic emission prevent a definitive answer. It is then necessary to examine the Solar System with sensitive infrared instruments from a vantage point beyond the orbit of Jupiter, and preferably well into the Kuiper Belt. We propose TRISOPS, a three-colour, regenerative H2 cooled, imaging telescope operated in an interstellar trajectory for 10 years. TRISOPS would map the diffuse emission of the Solar System (both zodiacal emission and the Cold Cloud) as a function of distance from the Sun beginning at 1AU in order to understand the fragmentation processes in the Solar System which may be related to the processes sustaining dust disks around stars like Vega. TRISOPS uses the improvements in detector and spacecraft technology developed by the SIRTF and WIRE projects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-6
Number of pages4
JournalJBIS - Journal of the British Interplanetary Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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