Published: April 28, 2020

Photo of Fomalhaut b from Hubble Space Telescope two panels one with full star system and second with images through the years of exoplanet or debris Surprise, space can do magic tricks! ...Sort of. Back in 2004, the Hubble Space Telescope took a photo of the bright, nearby star called Fomalhaut, sitting 25 light years away. At the time of the photograph, scientists thought we were looking at a potential exoplanet, named Fomalhaut b — possibly the first direct image of a planet orbiting a star beyond our solar system. However, by 2014, Hubble could no longer see the suspected exoplanet. It turns out, we were seeing something else amazing. It's now thought we were actually seeing a vast, expanding cloud of dust, a result of a collision between two large objects orbiting the star. Such an event is incredibly rare and it appears that Hubble looked at just the right place at just the right time! We aren't finished trying to solve this mystery though. Once the James Webb Space Telescope launches (2021 expected) they’ll look at the star's outer disk again. How cool will that be!