Astronomers for the first time have found that the outer region of a dusty disc encircling a brown dwarf contains millimetre-sized solid grains like those found in denser discs around newborn stars.
The surprising finding by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) challenges theories of how rocky, Earth-scale planets form, and suggests that rocky planets may be even more common in the Universe than expected.
Rocky planets are thought to form through the random collision and sticking together of what are initially microscopic particles in the disc of material around a star.
These tiny grains, known as cosmic dust, are similar to very fine soot or sand. However, in the outer regions around a brown dwarf