Observations of a distant dust-filled solar system have shed light on the process of planet formation.
Our current understanding of planet formation suggests that planets form slowly over a period of several hundred thousand years from particles of dust left over following the birth of a star. What researchers found from observations of the TYC 8241 2652 system however was that the entire dust cloud circling the star had all but disappeared within just three years.
"The most commonly accepted time scale for the removal of this much dust is in the hundreds of thousands of years, sometimes millions," said study co-author Inseok Song. "What we saw was far more rapid and has never been observed or even predicted. It tells us that we have a lot more to learn about planet formation.