A star called Fomalhaut and its surrounding disk of debris have made astronomers sit up and take notice. That's because this picture, released January 8 by the Hubble Space Telescope, reveals that the debris field—made of ice, dust, and rocks—is wider than previously thought, spanning an area 14 to 20 billion miles (22.5 to 32 billion kilometers) around the star.
Scientists have also used the image to calculate the path of a planet, Fomalhaut b, as it makes its away around the star. It turns out that the planet's 2,000-year elliptical orbit takes it three times closer to Fomalhaut than previously thought, and its eccentric path could send it plowing through the rock and ice contained in the debris field.
The resulting collision, if it happens, could occur around the year 2032, suggests astronomer Paul Kalas of the University of California at Berkeley.