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The Stuff Stars are Made of
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Named after Harvard University astronomer Bart Bok, Bok globules may not be the most romantic sounding phrase in astronomy, but they are widely accepted as an important step in the formation of new stars. Now a team of astronomers reports examining ten globules to determine how many of them are stars in the making.

Stopping the Suicide Spiral
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Young stars in the Orion Nebula have quite a temper, flashing powerful X-rays every few days. Scientists wonder if such X-ray flares could rough up the calm sea of a proto-planetary disk, and thereby rescue burgeoning planets from certain oblivion. Does a temperamental youth ensure the existence of future planets?

Decoding Dusty Disks
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Looking at sun-like stars known to harbor planets, the Spitzer Space Telescope has found evidence of dusty rings similar to the Kuiper Belt in our own solar system. Beautiful new images from Hubble show how such systems might appear, looking from the outside in.

Worlds in Collision
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Planet-building is a violent, messy process. Observations made with the Spitzer Space Telescope indicate this process may last much longer than previously thought.

Choices in The Quantum Universe
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Asking questions about the quantum universe is a fool's game: one cannot get a single answer, only a probability. A committee of particle physicists bounced this concept around a table to pose the top nine questions, and a probable path to answering them.

Three Tough Questions
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
When does asking the right questions tell more than necessarily knowing the right answers? Perhaps when crossing the fertile boundary between biology and astronomy.

First Images Show Organic Molecules
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
There are more organic molecules in the universe than what can be discerned in visible light. Using their new orbital infrared telescope, astrophysicists are finding that the basic building blocks of carbon chemistry have found a primary place in some of the most unlikely spots.

Swift Gammas: One Minute of Fame, Everyday
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
On the thirtieth anniversary of the discovery of gamma-ray bursts, a new telescope called SWIFT is expected to deepen our understanding of what causes them. Focused in the high-energy part of the electromagnetic spectrum, gamma-ray bursts represent the biggest explosions since the Big Bang.

Inevitability Beyond Billions
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
A sky survey by Anglo-Australian astronomers has put forward a new calculation for the number of stars in the visible universe. Their estimate is larger than the number of sand grains on Earth.

HabStars: Speeding Up In the Zone
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
When the Allen Telescope Array comes online in a few years, its thousand-fold better radio search capabilities would soon exhaust previously cataloged stars with potentially habitable planets. So Margaret Turnbull and Jill Tarter have a new list, called HabCat: A Catalog of Nearby Habitable Stellar Systems.
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