The inner asteroid belt is comparable to that between Mars and Jupiter. Both contain about one twentieth of the mass of the earth's moon and are about three times as far from the sun as the earth. Epsilon Eridani's outer asteroid belt, on the other hand, is about as heavy as the Earth's Moon and twenty times as far from its parent star as the Earth is from the Sun. This is similar to the position of Uranus in our solar system. The third ring is made of icy material and is 35 to 100 times as far from Epsilon Eridani as the Earth is from the sun. This ring resembles the Kuiper belt in our solar system, although it contains about 100 times more material than the Kuiper belt. According to calculations, however, Kuiper belt also contained this mass when the sun was about 850 million years old, and has since lost ground.
The Epsilon Eridani system has so much in common with our solar system, as it is still in its infancy, and it will evolve similarly, researchers suggest. The best explanation for the distances between the three rings is the influence of the gravitational effect of different planets, says study leader Massimo Marengo. There are three planets in question, whose mass lies between that of Neptune and Jupiter. One of them has already been found near the inner asteroid belt. A second planet would have to hide near the second belt and the third would have to be found close to the outer ice ring.Message from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge ddp / science.de? Sonja Römer advertisement