This artist’s view from an imagined planet around a nearby star shows the brilliant glow of exozodiacal light extending up into the sky and swamping the Milky Way.
Exozodiacal dust is the exoplanetary analog of zodiacal dust, the 1–100 micrometre-sized grains of amorphous carbon and silicate dust that fill the plane of the solar system, especially interior to the asteroid belt. As for the zodiacal dust, these grains are probably produced by outgassing comets, as well as by collisions among bigger parent bodies like asteroids. Exozodiacal dust clouds are often components of debris disks that are detected around main-sequence stars through their excess infrared emission. By convention, exozodiacal dust refers to the innermost and hottest part of these debris disks, within a few astronomical units from the star. The shapes of exozodiacal dust clouds can show the dynamical influence of extrasolar planets, and potentially indicate the presence of these planets. Because it is located near a star's habitable zone, exozodiacal dust can be an important noise source for attempts to image terrestrial planets.
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