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Spitzer sees protoplanetary disk around dead star
Posted: Thu, Apr 6, 2006, 8:31 AM ET (1231 GMT)
Protoplanetary disk around pulsar illustration (NASA) NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has detected potential evidence of planets forming around a supernova remnant, which may indicate that planet formation processes are "universal". In a paper published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, astronomers reported the discovery of a dust disk around the pulsar 4U 0142+61. The pulsar was formed by a supernova explosion of a star 10-20 times the mass of the Sun. While that explosion destroyed any planets that once orbited it, debris from the explosion appears to have fallen back into a disk that has formed around the star. While Spitzer did not directly detect any planets forming in the disk, planets have been previously discovered around other pulsars, most likely forming after the supernovae that created the pulsars.
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