? Eridani

This artist’s conception shows the closest known planetary system to our own, called Epsilon Eridani. Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech

Many stars have been discovered to have narrow discs of warm dust surrounding them. Since dynamical effects with the star’s solar winds should clear these out over long timescales, it’s presumed that these must be recently formed, likely through collisions of small rocky bodies in an asteroid or Kuiper belt. Such a disc has been detected around the nearby star ? Eridani. However, ? Eridani is also known to harbor one planet at a distance of 3.4 AU, and a second one at 40 AU is suspected. Because of this inner planet, any asteroid belt that close would be dynamically unstable as well and should have been cleared out long ago rendering the system incapable of producing dust in this region. So where did ? Eridani get this dust? A new study investigates this.

(…) Read the rest of ? Eridani’s Dust Disc (396 words)

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(C) jvois for Universe Today, 2010. | Permalink | One comment | Add to del.icio.us Post

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