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The Dark Skies of Lonely Stars
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
A new study suggest that 'orphan' stars - which form in tails of gas that extend well outside their parent galaxy - may be more prevalent than previously thought. If planets can form around these stars, they would find themselves in a truly unique and lonely environment in the space between galaxies.

Neon Sign Says
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Astronomers have observed neon in disks of dust and gas around distant, sun-like stars. The finding may help scientists narrow in on which stars are more likely to have planet-forming disks.

Hot and Steamy Star
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Enough water vapor to fill Earth´s oceans five times has been detected inside a forming star system. The vapor is pouring into a region of the system where planets are thought to be forming.

Polluted Star, Plentiful Earths
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
The chemical fingerprint of a burned-out star indicates that Earth-like planets may not be rare in the Universe. The finding may also give clues about the future of Earth and our own Solar System.

Are Planetary Systems Filled to Capacity? (part 2)
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
In this essay, Steven Soter examines computer experiments that simulate the gravitational interactions among planets over billions of years. These models suggest that the solar system is only marginally stable and is dynamically full, or nearly so. Adding another planet between the existing ones would make the system unstable, resulting in a collision or ejection of a planet.

Are Planetary Systems Filled to Capacity?
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
In part one of this two-part essay, Steven Soter explains that planetary systems, including our own, hold as many planets as they can, and adding more planets may make them unstable.

Abundant Anions
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
A discovery of the largest negatively-charged molecule yet seen in space may force a revision of theoretical models of interstellar chemistry. The finding may have implications for the types and abundance of molecules that could have been delivered to the early Earth from interstellar space.

Supergiants Spew Life Molecules
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
University of Arizona astronomers who are probing the oxygen-rich environment around a supergiant star with one of the world's most sensitive radio telescopes have discovered a score of molecules that include compounds needed for life.

The Violent Origin of the Solar System
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
We know that our solar system has at least one planet with life – Earth. Perhaps solar systems that formed in ways similar to our own also will have the potential for life. But how normal was the formation of our solar system? In Astrobiology Magazine, European Edition, Thierry Montmerle suggests our solar system had an unusually violent origin.

A Brown Dwarf Joins the Jet-Set
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
A brown dwarf star has been observed mimicking the processes seen in young stars. The discovery not only sheds light on brown dwarfs, but can also teach us about the behavior of extrasolar planets.

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