Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

September 11, 1995

Proplyds: Infant Solar Systems
Credit: NASA, HST, WFPC 2, C.R. O'Dell (Rice U.)

Explanation: The fuzzy blobs seen above may be some of the first ever images of entire solar systems forming right before our eyes. This close up of the Orion Nebulae taken by the Hubble Space Telescope shows only a few stars, but these stars are surrounded by proto-planetary disks known as "proplyds." As the stars have only just recently formed - in the past few million years - the disks around them are likely condensing to form planetary systems and may be similar to the disk that formed our own solar system 5 billion years ago. These HST results suggest that stars with planets may be relatively common place. Are there extra-terrestrial civilizations out there as well?

Tomorrow's picture: Spiral Galaxy M83

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.