DAVID A. HARDY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID A. HARDY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Alien solar system formation. Artwork of a young solar system forming from a disc of gas and dust around the star Fomalhaut (Alpha Piscis Austrini). This white star lies around 25 light years from Earth in the constellation Piscis Austrinus. A large disc of gas and dust has been detected around it, and gaps seen in this disc could represent paths swept clear of dust by recently- formed planets (such as the one at lower left). It is though that our solar system formed in a similar way, the planets gradually coalescing from a rotating disc of material left over from the formation of the Sun.
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