Astronomers detected a rapid disappearance of a proto-planetary ring of dust around a young star 450 light years away called TYC 8241 2652. The enormous asteroid belt, or the ring of dust, was first detected in 1983. It's not particularly astonishing, we expect every planetary system to have started this way. We think that dust accretes into asteroids and then to proto-planetary objects and finally into planets. In our own system we have left overs from this dust in the form of the inner and outer asteroid belts. This process is (or was, until now) thought to take anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of years.
However, NASA reports that between 2008 and 2010 the dust belt around this young star 450 light years away from us had ... disappeared. Did it accrete into planets in two years? You would have been laughed out of any astronomical conference with such assertations until now.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Considering the scale and age of our Galaxy, as well as the recent bountiful discoveries of extrasolar planetary objects, we must consider how alone are we. On one hand, life should be everywhere. On the other hand, we have no evidence of any life outside Earth. We are a very young civilization, just thousands of years old, if there are any other civilizations in the Milkyway Galaxy, they should all be much more advanced than we are, perhaps by millions of years, or even billions. If so, we should be seeing large scale mining projects, entire stellar asteroid belts disappearing in a short period of time... well, that's precisely what we had just witnessed. Take these contemplations with a grain of salt, but do consider them.