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Articles on Star formation

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The star system V883 Orionis contains a rare star surrounded by a disk of gas, ice and dust. A. Angelich (NRAO/AUI/NSF)/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

Water in space – a ‘Goldilocks’ star reveals previously hidden step in how water gets to planets like Earth

Astronomers have long known where water is first formed in the universe and how it ends up on planets, asteroids and comets. A recent discovery has finally answered what happens in between.
There are many pieces of evidence to help explain why the Earth spins, and some major mysteries. Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Why does the Earth spin?

An astronomer takes us on a tour of the universe to learn about the birth of stars and planets and how they get their spin.
A composite image of the data collected by the ALMA telescope in Chile, showing spiral galaxies in the Virgo Cluster. ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/S. Dagnello (NRAO)/T. Brown (VERTICO)

Why it’s location, location, location, even when it comes to galaxy evolution

Studying the extreme environment of the Virgo Cluster — which comprises thousands of galaxies — helps us learn what factors can affect and start or stop star formation.
A planet-forming disk made from rock and gas surrounds a young star. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/ Gerald Eichstädt /Seán Doran

Even planets have their (size) limits

Why isn’t there an endless variety of planets in the universe? An astrophysicist explains why planets only come in two flavors.
Galaxy cluster MACS J1149.5+2223 taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. The inset image is the very distant galaxy MACS1149-JD1. ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, W. Zheng (JHU), M. Postman (STScI), the CLASH Team, Hashimoto et al.

When did the lights first come on in the universe? A galaxy close to the dawn of time gives a clue

Astronomers have indirectly spotted some of the first stars in the universe by making their most distant detection of oxygen in a galaxy that existed just 500m years after the Big Bang.
Can a galaxy (like NGC 3810 in this case) have a classical spiral structure and also be already dead? ESA/Hubble and NASA

Is our Milky Way galaxy a zombie, already dead and we don’t know it?

Extragalactic astrophysicists want to know how and why galaxies stop forming stars, change their shape and fade away. With help from citizen scientists, they’re figuring it out.

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