An accidental find of a collection of young red dwarf stars close to our solar system could give us a rare glimpse of slow-motion planet formation.
Astronomers from The Australian National University (ANU) and UNSW Canberra found large discs of dust around two of the stars, tell-tale signs of planets in the process of forming.
"We think the Earth and all the other planets formed from discs like these so it is fascinating to see a potential new solar system evolving," said the lead researcher Dr Simon Murphy, from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
"However, other stars of this age usually don't have discs any more. The red dwarf discs seem to live longer than those of hotter stars like the Sun. We don't understand why," said Dr Murphy.
The discovery of objects like these two challenges current theories about planet formation, said co-author Professor Warrick Lawson from UNSW Canberra.