This artist's concept shows a brown dwarf surrounded by a swirling disk of planet-building dust. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope spotted such a disk around a surprisingly low-mass brown dwarf, or 'failed star'. Astronomers believe that this unusual system will eventually spawn planets. If so, they speculate the disk has enough mass to make one small gas giant and a few Earth-sized rocky planets.
© National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society