Thanks to a tweet by Ars Technica's John Timmer, I was introduced this morning to Gomez's Hamburger—a delightfully named astronomical feature about 900 lightyears away from Earth.
The name is funny. But what makes Gomez's Hamburger worth posting about here is that it gives you a glimpse of a process you've probably only read about before. Scientists think that planets form out of clouds of gas and dust circling a star. Over time, bits of dust clump together into larger objects, which in turn collide and smush into even larger objects. Eventually, instead of a star sitting in a dust cloud like Pigpen from Peanuts, you've got a classy, mature star orbited by a series of planets.
Gomez's Hamburger is most likely a young star sitting in a dust cloud. The dust is actually the meat in this sandwich. The "buns" are actually light reflecting off of the dust.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.