THE VIOLENCE OF CREATION

UNPRECEDENTED PHOTOS OF STARS BEING BORN SUGGEST THAT PLANETS -- AND POSSIBLY LIFE -- ARE EVERYWHERE

Stargazers in the 17th century named them nebulae, the Latin word for clouds, but modern astronomers have become convinced that many of the faint, fuzzy patches of light that dot the night sky are really huge clumps of interstellar gas that act as cosmic nurseries -- the places where new stars are born. The glow comes from infant suns lighting up the clouds, like fireworks illuminating their surrounding pall of smoke. "Fireworks" is an apt description, since the prevailing theory among astronomers is that star birth must be a cataclysmically violent process. But without detailed pictures of what's going on-something that...

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