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Distant Dust: Asteroid belt or boiling comet?

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11:37am, April 20, 2005

Astronomers this week announced that they have discovered signs of an asteroid belt circling a sunlike star 41 light-years from Earth. If confirmed, the belt would be the closest known analog to the asteroid belt in the solar system and a possible indicator of rocky planets.

Charles Beichman of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and his colleagues base their findings on infrared observations of the star HD 69830 with the Spitzer Space Telescope. A spectrometer on Spitzer revealed that a thick disk of warm, micrometer-size dust particles surrounds the star, which has a mass and age similar to that of the sun.

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