A Dust Ring around epsilon Eridani: Analog to the Young Solar System

Jane Sophia Greaves, WS Holland, G Moriarty-Schieven, T Jenness, WRF Dent, B Zuckerman, C McCarthy, RA Webb, HM Butner, WK Gear, HJ Walker

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Dust emission around the nearby star epsilon Eridani has been imaged using a new submillimeter camera (the Submillimetre Common-User Bolometer Array at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope). At an 850 mu m wavelength, a ring of dust is seen peaking at 60 AU from the star and with much lower emission inside 30 AU. The mass of the ring is at least similar to 0.01 M-circle plus in dust, while an upper limit of 0.4 M-circle plus in molecular gas is imposed by CO observations. The total mass is comparable to the estimated amount of material, 0.04-0.3 M-circle plus, in comets orbiting the solar system. The most probable origin of the ring structure is that it is a young analog to the Kuiper Belt in our solar system and that the central region has been partially cleared by the formation of grains into planetesimals. Dust clearing around epsilon Eri is seen within the radius of Neptune's orbit, and the peak emission at 35-75 AU lies within the estimated Kuiper Belt zone of 30-100 AU radius. epsilon Eri is a main-sequence star of type K2 V (0.8 M-circle dot) with an estimated age of 0.5-1.0 Gyr, so this interpretation is consistent with the early history of the solar system where heavy bombardment occurred up to approximate to 0.6 Gyr. An unexpected discovery is the substructure within the ring, and these asymmetries could be due to perturbations by planets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L133-L137
Number of pages5
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 1998


  • circumstellar matter
  • planetary systems
  • stars : individual (epsilon Eridani)


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