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NASA telescope discovers developing star system

Artist's rendition of the 'blinking' star system. Image Credit: Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Artist's rendition of the 'blinking' star system. Image Credit: Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Digital writers

Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 3:03 PM -

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has detected a developing star system that is "blinking" every 93 days.

Astronomers believe the system - called YLW 16A - is comprised of three developing stars. Two are surrounded by a disk of dusty material left over from when the stars first formed.

Here's more from NASA: 

"As the two inner stars whirl around each other, they periodically peek out from the disk that girds them like a hula hoop [causing the system to 'blink']. The hoop itself appears to be misaligned from the central star pair, probably due to the disrupting gravitational presence of the third star orbiting at the periphery of the system. The whole system cycles through bright and faint phases, with the central stars playing a sort of cosmic peek-a-boo as the tilted disk twirls around them. It is believed that this disk should go on to spawn planets and the other celestial bodies that make up a solar system."

Unfortunately, we won't be around to study planets that may arise: the formation of a full-blown solar system could take millions, if not billions, of years to form.

Here's an artist's rendition of what a planetary formation looks like, courtesy of NASA.

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