For all of its emptiness, space is a messy place filled with dust, grease, gas and a whole lot of man-made junk. When that interstellar schmutz gets caught in the gravitational nets of suns, planets and other massive celestial bodies, some interesting things can happen.
Take, for example, the twin balls of space dust known as Kordylewski clouds. First described in the 1950s, these roiling clouds of crud are hypothesized to exist in permanent orbits about 250,000 miles (400,000 kilometers) above our planet — one cloud pushed ahead of Earth and the other dragged behind it — thanks to a unique gravitational arrangement with the moon. Like cosmic tumbleweeds, these grainy dust balls are thought to roll wherever their heavenly hosts roll, picking up stray grit and grime and tiny asteroid chunks along the way, before finally spitting them back out again into the long prairie of space.
Concrete evidence that Kordylewski clouds exist has been hard to come by, for obvious reasons (space is big, and dust is small). But now, a team of Hungarian astronomers thinks they’ve finally captured one of the clouds on camera — exactly where decades of research predicted it would be.