back to article Disappearing space dust belt baffles boffins

Boffins were bewildered when a star's dust belt mysteriously disappeared, but they now think that the vanishing fragments could have used up in some superfast planet formation. Artist's impression of dusty TYC 8241 2652 1 TYC in its formerly dusty state. Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA artwork by Lynette Cook Researchers …


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  1. petur

    1 day

    is all it takes (or so say creationists)

    I bet they'll find a way to make this finding work for their cause...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 1 day

      You seem quicker to start the discussion than they do.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 1 day

      Actually in this case I wonder if it could take 1 day. A sufficient supernova could do it. Although it would be quite apparent if that was the case.

  2. proto-robbie


  3. Gordon 10

    What if

    The dust is still there but we cannot see it.?

    For example if say Sunspot activity or some other output from the star was exciting the dust to emit IR and now its not?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What if

      What if the dust was on the lens of the telescope and the cleaner finally got round with the duster?

      I know, I know, don't get all bent out of shape, I'm going.

  4. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Scientists ar eon the lookout

    for one humongous hoover

    Just a thought

    1. CaptainHook

      Re: Scientists ar eon the lookout

      Mega Maid

      "suck suck suck"

    2. Thomas 4

      Re: Scientists are on the lookout

      Or, alternatively, Unicron did it.

  5. WonkoTheSane

    Locals are building a Sunbeam

    Because they expect a Boskonian attack.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Locals are building a Sunbeam

      I did enjoy Lensman but it did get a bit (very) silly when they were throwing around anti planets

  6. Christoph

    We were picking up waste heat

    The local inhabitants have pointed the radiators on their power plant in a different direction.

  7. james 68

    is it just me or do some "scientists" seem to completely dismiss obvious and simple ideas for the most far fetched ones?

    dust around stars disappears! must be super duper fast planet formation!!!

    or maybe just a migratory planet(oid)s orbit caused it to drift through the solar plane which contained the dust causing a large portion of it to be scooped up to the planet(oid)s surface due to gravity, something we can infer from accumulated evidence happened many times in our own solar system setting a known precident.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think what you describe would fit the spec for super-fast planet formation.

    2. Annihilator

      Two points

      1) The planet would have had to be effing huge to scoop up all the dust across that solar system

      2) It would have to "drift" awfully fast to get in and hoover everything up in such a short period of time

      3) Have we really inferred that many planets drifted through our solar system scooping up dust? When did we do that then?

    3. Crisp

      Re: Maybe

      "is it just me or do some "scientists" seem to completely dismiss obvious and simple ideas for the most far fetched ones?"

      How about we look at the evidence and research done on TYC before we start introducing maybe extras like unseen migratory planets? Maybe the reason that they don't suspect the obvious and simple idea of a migratory planet, because there wasn't one there to see, .


      It's you.

  8. beardman


    It was the Magratheans who constructed the planet-sized computer named Earth (for a race of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings, the mice) to determine the ultimate question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, which is required to understand the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.

    I wonder what they have built now? I bet it's not another Earth.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Magratheans?

      Obviously it's been cleared for the contruction of an intergalactic superhighway.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. NomNomNom

    You up there in your ivory tower, I don't understand. What do you mean the dust belt has "disappeared"? What the hell is a "disappearing?". That's such a long word and I have no clue what it means. It sounds very complicated. Could you perhaps provide us with a simple real world example of what "disappearing" entails?

    ""It's like the classic magician's trick: Now you see it, now you don't," lead author Carl Melis, a postdoc at UC San Diego, said."

    Ah thanks, I think I understand now.

  11. geekclick

    Aliens did it!

    That is all....

    1. Neil 23

      Re: Aliens did it!

      Or a fleet of Von Neumann machines

      1. Ru

        Re: Aliens did it!

        Maybe it was the fleet of Von Neumann machines, freshly formed from the destruction of the planet that used to be there. They'll be moving on to pastures new, no doubt.

  12. thomas k.


    That is all.

  13. Paul Hayes 1

    Well, the thing about space dust - its main distinguishing feature - is it's black. And the thing about space, the colour of space, your basic space colour, is black. So how are you supposed to see it?

    1. Christoph

      Space dust near a star is hot and black, so you can see it by infra-red.

      Alternatively, it was scooped up by Hotblack Desiato for a Disaster Area concert.

  14. teebie

    That's confusing

    Katamari Damacy is by Namco, not TYCo

  15. DragonLord


    Well, it could just be an interstellar mining operation, and we've just seen the results.

  16. Volker Hett

    Just a publicity stunt

    by Dysons, gives vacuum cleaner a whole new meaning!

    1. FartingHippo

      Re: Just a publicity stunt

      Will they empty the bag and build a Dyson Sphere?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just a publicity stunt

        Or even a Ringworld.

  17. dssf


    It was the Doomsday Machine, sent back by one of the Spocks or by Janeway messing with the timeline agan....

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My bad

    I swept it all under the sofa cos my missus kept telling me to hoover...

  19. RISC OS

    It was...

    .... a cobra mkIII using fuel scoops to harvest the valueable mineral particles contained within the dust.

  20. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Saturn's rings can disappear too

    If you view 'em edge on.

    1. Graeme 7

      Re: Saturn's rings can disappear too

      That was my thought too. Not sure if it's possible in this case though, and I don't have a clue about astrophysics so don't know the answer.

      Could our have solar system rotated around this other one quite so quickly (or more likely the other solar system/dust ring rotating)? Even a 1 degree change in angle within a year sounds sounds far too quick to me, but is it possible?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Saturn's rings can disappear too


  21. Beelzeebub

    It was me...

    ... well I gotta eat sometime.

  22. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    "nearly instantaneous from an astronomical perspective."

    Creating a planet in two years is fscking fast from *any* perspective!

    1. Tom 35

      Re: "nearly instantaneous from an astronomical perspective."

      Two years is about one orbit for Mars (1.88 years) so that dust would have to be very close the the star for there to be any chance a new planet could suck up all/most of the dust in that short a time since it would also be in orbit around the star.

      1. macman

        Re: "nearly instantaneous from an astronomical perspective."

        The earth moon system was created when a mars sized planetoid hit earth, the dust cloud this collision caused condensed quite quickly. Orders of magnitude faster than it took for the whole solar system to condense.

        Note the phrasing that original dust cloud was not solar wide.

  23. Miek

    Maybe this is the first documented case of the "Pot Noodle Planet"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Pot Noodle Planet"

      It was the Flying Spaghetti Monster! Pastafarians unite!

  24. Pirate Dave Silver badge


    maybe it's not that the dust is gone. Perhaps the real reason is some other civilization interfering with our ability to see infrared from that star. As if they pulled a big anti-infrared cloak over their solar system while they beaver away building a new DeathStar with which to destroy our Earth.

    Nah, that'd be silly.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Holy sh*t...

    ...turns out we don't really know as much as we think we do about the universe.

    Who woulda guessed?

    1. Zombie Womble

      Re: Holy sh*t...

      Using our ever expanding knowledge to bash science doesn't make sense.

  26. Daggersedge

    Global warming is the cause, I tell you!

    Yes, that's right, it's man-made global warming that's the cause. Each and every time every one of us turns on a light, our carbon footprint grows and grows and grows like the nose on Pinocchio and now it has grown so big that it has begun to affect a star 450 light years away!

    We must do something! Now! Now! Now! We must throw away all our technology. More than that, we must kill - ethically, of course, and in the name of science - 95% of the earth's population. The survivors must then lead lives of neolithic gatherers (hunting, of course, will not be allowed as it entails killing furry little creatures who look ever so cute in television documentaries). These gatherers will be ruled by eco-friendly druids, who, of course, will have to keep some technology for themselves - air conditioners, central heating, electricity, etc - just to keep control until they are certain that everyone is completely enlightened.

  27. Hollerith 1

    Happens to me with the mixer

    I'm just whipping some double cream in the Kenwood, turn away but for a moment, come back not to find lovely stiff whipped cream, but near-as-dammit butter.

    Same principle in space, less useful on pancakes.

  28. Tom Maddox Silver badge

    Contains one space battle

    Sounds like someone set off a Genesis device. Look for the planet to explode in the not-too-distant future.

  29. jubtastic1

    Seems more likely

    That its simply cooled down and doesnt show up on IR anymore than a solar systems worth of dust has coalesced into a planet in under two years.

  30. All names Taken

    Does it work on carpets, rugs and floor coverings too?

  31. TeeCee Gold badge

    Super fast planetary formation - why?

    Surely in normal planetary formation, the thing gradually coalesce over time. At some point they'll become solid objects having significant mass, then they'll clear their orbits pretty damned quickly I'd have though.

    We may just have happened to tune in at the right point of what is actually a very long process.

    Now, we also know that large gas-giants in orbits fairly close to their star are rather common. One Jupiter-sized object with an orbital period similar to ours would hoover up the majority of the insystem crap fairly sharpish. If you add another big one further out that happens to be doing the bit of its orbit that's in our direction at the moment, you get the results seen.

    1. james 68

      Re: Super fast planetary formation - why?

      careful mate...

      your comment is way too sensible, the holier than thous will be salivating at the thought of jumping all over it just to feed their egos

  32. IHateWearingATie

    I for one...

    ... welcome our space dust consuming overlords.

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