It's a mystery of cosmic proportion! Astronomers observed a thick disk of dust swirling around a star named TYC 8241 2652 1, some 460 light-years away in the constellation Centaurus, and then, the disk just vanished!
By January 2010, however, nearly all infrared light from the dusty disk had vanished. “We had never seen anything like this before,” says astronomer Carl Melis of the University of California, San Diego. “We were all scratching our heads and wondering what the hell did we do wrong?” But subsequent observations with both infrared satellites and ground-based telescopes confirmed the surprising discovery, he says: “The disk was gone.”
Melis and his colleagues report the mystery online today in Nature — but they don’t know what caused it. “It’s very bizarre,” he says. “Nothing like this was ever predicted.” He says there’s no way something could eclipse the infrared-emitting disk for more than 2 years, because such an object would be immense. Furthermore, the star itself didn’t fade.