Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Fetal Solar System Aborted

Astronomers believe the star, mysteriously stripped of its planet-forming dust disk, still has the right stuff for making planets.
1) A star's planet-forming dust disk vanished in less than two years.
2) The dust grains probably were remnants of two rocky proto-planets that crashed.
3) The finding adds a new twist into the story of how planets like Earth may form.

An artist's rendering of TYC 8241 2652 1 as it appeared several years ago when it was emitting large amounts of excess infrared radiation.

For a long while, it looked like the young star known as TYC 8241 2652 1 was getting ready to make some planets.

The sun-like star, located about 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus was encircled by a disk of warm, brightly glowing dust located about as far away from the star as Mercury orbits the sun.

But something strange happened between 2008, when the star was observed by a powerful ground-based infrared telescope in Chile, and 2010 when NASA's WISE infrared space telescope took a look: The dust was gone.

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