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Recipe for life found on the hunter's blade

Herschel spots the fingerprints of life-enabling molecules

Orion, the hunter, has stalked the skies since before the memory of man. His bronze club, held aloft, drips with the blood of his underworld quarry while around his waist, hanging in anticipation, is his hunter’s sword. Well, that’s how the ancients saw the constellation of Orion. We’ve learned a little about the stellar warrior since then. His famous sword (a chain of three stars also known as Orion’s belt), rather than being a life-taker, is actually a life giver.
The second star in the chain is a nebula – a sort of stellar nursery where stars and planets are formed from collapsing clouds of gas and dust. The Orion nebula is one of the most studied in the heavens and recently Europe turned the gaze of its latest addition to the heavenly pantheon – the Herschel Space Observatory - to have a look.

Happy Birthday Planet X – Cosm Feb 12, 2010

Pluto celebrates it's 80th birthday

The amazing story of how ‘Planet X’ was found (then lost once more)

For millennia, man looked up to the heavens certain in the knowledge that there were only six planets. Beyond Saturn there was nothing but empty space and the twinkling stellar wallpaper that surrounded it. Then, in 1781, a British chap called William Herschel had the cheek to discover a brand new planet. It was the first to be discovered since Christ’s birth, it doubled the size of the known solar system and it was called, after some debate, Uranus, to the delight of sniggering schoolboys ever since.

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