Amateur captures new solar system in stunning pictures

A New Zealand astronomer has captured the first amateur pictures of another solar system from a tiny telescope in his back yard.

According to reports, Rolf Olsen has captured the star Beta Pictoris, and the disk of debris and dust orbiting it, in a stunning image that has amazed astronomers worldwide.

Olsen, who moved to New Zealand in 2003 from Denmark, put the photograph on his website, triggering a wave of congratulatory messages from scientific community around the world.

"I realised it was a special thing but I didn't realise it would generate such a stir," he said.

Incredibly, Olsen took the photo of the distant star (63.4 light years away) using a 25 cm telescope at his home.

Rolf Olsen's picture of the star Beta Pictoris, believed to be the first image by an amateur photographer.
Rolf Olsen's picture of the star Beta Pictoris, believed to be the first image by an amateur photographer.

Scientists are now describing the feat as a "milestone".

"I think it's a milestone in 'amateur' astronomy, and it goes to show you that sometimes, the sky is not the limit," Phil Plait, who worked on the Hubble Telescope for over a decade, wrote on Discovery Magazine.

The photo shows the protoplanetary disk surrounding the star that represents a developing solar system, and the material inside the disk could develop into planets and asteroids.

Olsen says he got the idea by reading a 1993 Harvard paper titled 'Observation of the central part of the beta Pictoris disk with an anti-blooming CCD'.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting