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A Mystery of Missing Methane
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
NASA's Spitzer telescope has discovered something odd about a distant planet - it lacks methane. The finding is contradictory to what scientists were expecting based on current models. The discovery also brings astronomers one step closer to probing the atmosphere of Earth-like exoplanets.

Opposite Orbits Upend Theories
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
The discovery of nine new planets challenges theories of how planets form. Unlike our solar system, two of the planets orbit in the opposite direction to the rotation of their host star.

Discovery Challenges Planet Formation Theories
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Astronomers have observed a planet-like object orbiting a brown dwarf. However, the object is thought to have formed in less than 1 million years, which is much faster than the predicted time it takes to build a planet. The finding could alter our theories about planet formation.

Getting WISE About Nemesis
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Is our Sun part of a binary star system? An unseen companion star, nicknamed "Nemesis," may be sending comets towards Earth. If Nemesis exists, NASA´s new WISE telescope should be able to spot it.

Planetary Death March
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
A team of astrophysicists has determined that a massive planet outside our solar system is being distorted and destroyed by its host star. The finding provides further information about how planets can form and evolve in other solar systems.

A Drop in the Bucket
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
A new technique is being developed to detect water in the protoplanetary disks of other solar systems. If successful, it would help in our understanding of how habitable planets form.

Star of Extreme Colors is Cool
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Astronomers have discovered a brown dwarf that is the coolest sub-stellar body ever found outside our solar system. Astrobiologists study brown dwarfs in order to learn more about stars and star formation. Ultimately, this will help us determine the best places to search for extrasolar planets.

Solar System Shield
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Water vapor in planet-forming disks may block ultraviolet radiation from destroying water and other important molecules for life, according to new calculations.

How Earth Survived Birth
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Planets are thought to grow from swirling disks of dust and gas around stars. New simulations show how small planets like Earth can survive in these tumultuous environments instead of crashing into their host stars. The key is inward and outward migrations that trap the planets on orbits.

Our Uncommon Solar System
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
A new study shows that just 15 percent of solar systems in the galaxy are like our own. The finding may have implications in the search for habitable worlds in the Universe.

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