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New Planetary Systems In The Orion Nebula ... Hubblecast 32: Born in Beauty - Proplyds in the Orion Nebula. Visible to the naked eye, only 1500 light-years from Earth, the great Orion Nebula has been known and revered since ancient times. A popular target of Hubble, researchers have now identified 42 new discs within it that could be the beginnings of new planetary systems like our own. --- Please SUBSCRIBE to Science & Reason: • • • --- 14-Dec-2009: A collection of 30 never-before-released images of embryonic planetary systems in the Orion Nebula are the highlight of the longest single Hubble Space Telescope project ever dedicated to the topic of star and planet formation. Also known as proplyds, or protoplanetary discs, these modest blobs surrounding baby stars are shedding light on the mechanism behind planet formation. Only the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, with its high resolution and sensitivity, can take such detailed pictures of circumstellar discs at optical wavelengths. Looking like a graceful watercolour painting, the Orion Nebula is one of the most photogenic objects in space and one of the Hubble Space Telescope's favourite targets. As newborn stars emerge from the nebula's mixture of gas and dust, protoplanetary discs, also known as proplyds, form around them: the centre of the spinning disc heats up and becomes a new star, but remnants around the outskirts of the disc attract other bits of dust and clump together. Proplyds are thought to be young planetary systems in the making. In an ambitious survey of the familiar nebula using Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), researchers have discovered 42 protoplanetary discs. Visible to the naked eye, the Orion Nebula has been known since ancient times, but was first described in the early 17th century by the French astronomer Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc — who is given credit for discovering it. At 1500 light-years away, the nebula, also known as Messier 42, is the closest star-forming region to Earth with stars massive enough to heat up the surrounding gas, setting it ablaze with colour, and making the region stand out to stargazers. Learn more: --- Hubblecast features news and Images from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The space-based observatory is a collaboration between NASA and ESA. The observations are carried out in visible, infrared and ultraviolet light. In many ways Hubble has revolutionised modern astronomy. The Hubble Space Telescope has made some of the most dramatic discoveries in the history of astronomy. From its vantage point 600 km above the Earth, Hubble can detect light with "eyes" five times sharper than the best ground-based telescopes and looks deep into space where some of the most profound mysteries are still buried in the mists of time. Hubble European Space Agency Information Centre Garching/Munich, Germany • • • Dr. J is a German astronomer at the ESO. His scientific interests are in cosmology, particularly on galaxy evolution and quasars. Dr. J's real name is Joe Liske and he has a PhD in astronomy. • .
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