Until recently the only planetary system we could study was our own Solar System. Now astronomers have found the signatures of many other such systems.
Although the planets themselves are difficult to image directly, the high resolution of the JWST will make it possible to see how other planetary systems form and in this way enable us to piece together a picture of how other solar systems evolve.
Our own Solar System is made up of many different kinds of material, including a varied collection of dust and smaller bodies. At the low end of the scale is the zodiacal dust. This is found in the inner Solar System and is composed of dust grains that are typically just a few thousandths of a millimetre in size. Beyond the planet Neptune, in the outer reaches of the Solar System, is a flattened disc of icy planetesimals called the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt. The planetesimals are tens to hundreds of kilometres in diameters, and are thought to be left over from the formation of the Solar System about 4.5 billion years ago.