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The planet was once like Jupiter and is around 13 billion years old, almost three times older than our own planetary system. 35 One day we will search for the markers of life beyond Earth With ground-based telescopes, the gas giant planet HD 209458b, 150 light-years from Earth, was discovered in 1999 through its slight gravitational tug on its ‘mother-star’. In 2001 Hubble made highly accurate measurements of the dip in the star’s light when the planet passed in front. The first detection of an atmosphere around an extrasolar planet was also made in this object.

36 Transiting exoplanet This artist's impression shows the planet HD 209458b transiting its parent star. Hubble's spectrometer STIS has been used to detect – for the first time – the signature of the giant planet's atmosphere evaporating off into space. Astronomers call HD 209458b a 'hot Jupiter' because it orbits much closer to its star than our own ESA planet of that name. 10 4 M17 in Sagittarius This WFPC2 image, taken in the light of glowing hydrogen (green), oxygen (blue) and sulphur (red), shows a small region within the THE LIVES OF STARS T he Sun is a typical star amongst the 100 billion or so in our Milky Way galaxy.

The ring is continuously forming massive, young, hot stars, which are blue in color. Another sign of robust star formation is the pink regions along the ring. These are rarefied clouds of glowing hydrogen gas, fluorescing because of the strong ultraviolet light from the newly formed massive stars.

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Chaos In Numberland by John Barrow


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