Sean Carroll shares some results from research into the mysterious periodic darkening of the star Epsilon Aurigae. It appears that the star is being obscured by a protoplanetary disc orbiting a companion star. As such an eclipse started in August of last year and is expected to last until May of next year, his team has been using telescope interferometry to directly image the star, confirming that there is indeed a disc blocking the star’s light.
One of the items of discovery that the team hopes to run across is the cause of a brightening of the star half way through this transit. The currently favored idea is that the star at the center of the disc has cleared out the material nearest to it, making the disc thinnest at the center, thus letting more light through when the center of the disc passes in front of the main star.
His post comes with some serious scientific eye candy:
See his post for a bigger version and a more complete explanation.