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36 Million Miles of Space Dust Around A Star Magically Disappears

by on July 7, 2012

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Astronomers have seen something that’s never been seen before: A huge amount of dust around a star has mysteriously disappeared. Poof, like magic.

It’s not just a little dust. It’s enough dust to fill an inner solar system. ¬†The distance it would cover would be from the Sun half way to earth, near Mercury. That’s about 36 million miles worth of dust that vanished. Even David Copperfield couldn’t come up with such an amazing trick.

The weird thing is that there is no explanation as of yet. The dust was independent of the sun so it didn’t get bombarded by cosmic rays and get destroyed. It seemed to act on its own accord.

The star, TYC 8241 2652, a young star thought to be the beginnings of a solar system is now up in the air so to speak. The time frame for this act was quick in the human time frame, let alone space time.

Norm Murray, director of the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics said, “The history of astronomy has shown that events that are not predicted and hard to explain can be game-changers.”

The dust was present in 1983 and continued to be there for 25 years. In 2009, it started to dim. By 2010, the dust was gone.

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Since there is no present model for this kind of instance scientists have to re-think this problem.

The result is based upon multiple sets of observations of TYC 8241 2652 obtained with the Thermal-Region Camera Spectrograph (T-ReCS) on the Gemini South telescope in Chile, the IRAS satellite, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite, NASA’s Infrared Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawai`i, the Herschel Space Telescope of the European Space Agency, and AKARI (a Japanese/ESA infrared satellite).

Featured image: Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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