Release 579 of 1,149

Dusty Planetary Disks Around Two Nearby Stars Resemble Our Kuiper Belt

Release date: Jan 19, 2006 12:00 PM (EST)

These two bright debris disks of ice and dust appear to be the equivalent of our own solar system's Kuiper Belt, a ring of icy rocks outside the orbit of Neptune and the source of short-period comets. The disks encircle the types of stars around which there could be habitable zones and planets for life to develop. The disks seem to have a central area cleared of debris, perhaps by planets.