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06.04.09

Silicate Crystal Formation in the Disk of an Erupting Star

This artist's animation illustrates how silicate crystals like those found in comets can be created by an outburst from a growing star. It first shows a young sun-like star encircled by its planet-forming disk of gas and dust. The silicate that makes up most of the dust would have begun as non-crystallized, amorphous particles.

Then, material from the disk spirals onto the star increasing its mass and causing the star to brighten and heat up dramatically. The outburst causes temperatures to rise in the star's surrounding disk.

Next, the animation zooms into the disk to show close-ups of silicate particles. When the disk warms from the star's outburst, the amorphous particles of silicate melt. As they cool off, they transform into forsterite, a type of silicate crystal often found in comets in our solar system.

In April 2008, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope detected evidence of this process taking place on the disk of a young sun-like star called EX Lupi.

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04.20.05

Band of Rubble

This artist's animation illustrates a massive asteroid belt in orbit around a star the same age and size as our Sun. ...

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04.20.05

Sunset on an Alien World

This artist's animation illustrates what the night sky might look like from a hypothetical alien planet in a star sys...

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03.22.05

Distant Planet Flaunts its Light

This artist's animation shows a close-up view of a distant giant planet passing behind its star as a regular part of ...

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03.22.05

How to Measure a Planetary Eclipse

This artist's animation shows a close-up view of a distant giant planet passing behind its star as a regular part of ...

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03.22.05

A Planet in a Different Light

This artist's animation shows first what a fiery hot star and its close-knit planetary companion might look like clos...

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03.01.05

Invisible Galaxies Come to Life

This artist's animation demonstrates that an invisible galaxy shrouded in dust can become glaringly bright when viewe...

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02.11.05

Spitzer's Delicate Ring Flower

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope finds a delicate flower in the Ring Nebula, as shown in this animation. The outer shel...

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02.07.05

Birth of an Unusual Planetary System

This artist's animation shows a brown dwarf surrounded by a swirling disk of planet-building dust. NASA's Spitzer Spa...

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01.12.05

Trifid's Shifting Sides

This movie shifts from the well-known visible-light picture of the glowing Trifid Nebula to infrared views from NASA'...

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12.09.04

The Evolution of a Planet-Forming Disk

This animation shows the evolution of a planet-forming disk around a star. Initially, the young disk is bright and th...

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12.09.04

A Distant Solar System

This animation portrays an artist's concept of a distant hypothetical solar system, about the same age as our own. It...

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11.09.04

Icy Dawn of a Newborn Star

In this animation, we observe what a young star with a circumstellar disc would look like when viewed from different ...

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10.18.04

Swirling Rings of Dust

This animation depicts colliding rocky bodies in an early planetary system. Such collisions form the basis of the pla...

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10.18.04

When Worlds Collide

This animation illustrates a massive collision between rocky, embryonic planets as big as mountain ranges. Such colli...

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10.12.04

Galactic Fossil Revealed in Infrared Light

This animation demonstrates the power of infrared light to see what visible light cannot -- a newfound bundle of star...

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10.07.04

Visible-Infrared Whirlpool

This animation transitions from the more familiar visible light image of the "Whirlpool Galaxy" to the dramatic new v...

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10.06.04

Supernova Explosion

This animation of a supernova explosion demonstrates what happens when a massive star explodes and creates a shell of...

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10.06.04

Kepler's Supernova Remnant - Zoom-In

This "zoom" starts in the Scorpius constellation and pushes through deeper and narrower telescopic fields to at last ...

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10.06.04

Kepler's Supernova Remnant - Composite Image

The composite view of the supernova splits into its three components: blue-green for Chandra, yellow for Hubble, and ...

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08.09.04

Spitzer Discovers Hidden Ring

This animation transitions from a visible light image of the planetary nebula called NGC 246 to Spitzer's new infrare...

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