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Planets as Brake Pads
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have found evidence that dusty disks of planet-forming material tug on and slow down the young, whirling stars they surround.

An IOTA of Red
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
By linking a trio of telescopes, astronomers have obtained unprecedented detail of old red giant stars. The stars had an unexplained patchy brightness that could be caused by orbiting planets.

Dust Clues to Planet
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has revealed two dust disks circling the nearby star Beta Pictoris. The images confirm a decade of scientific speculation that a warp in the young star's dust disk may actually be a second inclined disk, which is evidence for the possibility of at least one Jupiter-size planet orbiting the star.

Donuts and Banana Splits
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Recent discoveries add yet more variety to the bewildering diversity of protoplanetary disk shapes -- ranging from donuts to spirals -- that astronomers are finding as they study the birthing grounds of planets around other stars.

The Ratio of the Spheres
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Each of our Solar System's outer gaseous planets hosts a system of multiple satellites, and these objects include Jupiter's volcanic Io and Europa with its believed subsurface ocean, as well as Titan with its dense and organic-rich atmosphere at Saturn.

The Aromatic World
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
In a paper soon to be published in the journal Astrobiology, Pascale Ehrenfreund and colleagues suggest that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), organic molecules found throughout space, may have been important multi-taskers in the origin of life on Earth.

Red Dwarfs and Super-Earths
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
A new explanation for forming super-Earths suggests that they are likely to be found orbiting red dwarf stars- the most abundant star than gas giant planets. The theory by Dr. Alan Boss, describes mechanism whereby UV radiation from nearby massive star strips off a planet's gaseous envelope, exposing a super-Earth.

'Planemo' Spawn
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Forget our traditional ideas of where a planetary system forms - new research led by a University of Toronto astronomer reveals that planetary nurseries can exist not only around stars but also around objects that are themselves not much heftier than Jupiter. It suggests that miniature versions of solar system may circle objects 100 times less massive than sun.

FUSEing Carbon Planets
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Scientists using NASA's Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer, or FUSE, have discovered abundant amounts of carbon gas in a dusty disk surrounding a well-studied young star named Beta Pictoris. The star's planets could be exotic, carbon-rich worlds of graphite, diamond, and methane.

Dead Zones to the Rescue
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Astronomers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario find that "dead zones"- which typically extend out to 13 astronomical units from the central star of an extrasolar planetary system - can significantly slow planetary migration so that planets are not lost to the systems.

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