A team of scientists, co-led by a Wesleyan professor, have discovered a clue to how our solar system formed. That observation is linked to the â€œwinking star,â€ 25,000 light years away from Earth.
Scientists have theorized for hundreds of years that Earth-like planets, or planets that can support life, begin with the compression and coalescence of gas and dust that floats around a star.
Along with an international team of scientists, Astronomy professor William Herbst, found particles 1 millimeter in diameter orbiting around what is known as the winking star.
â€œWeâ€™re particularly excited because we think that this may be a link between our past-the kind of history that our Earth had-- and what's happening right now in this star," Herbst says.
Herbst calls that far-away star a cosmic youngster. It's 3 million years old whereas the Earth and the Sun have existed for billions of years. Herbst says that it would take another 30 million years for planets to possibly form.
This week's edition of the science journal, Nature, details the discovery.
See a Flash animation of what the team observed here.
Click on the link below to hear Professor Herbst explain the winking star.