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Spitzer spots planetary collision
Posted: Tue, Aug 11, 2009, 9:50 AM ET (1350 GMT)
Exoplanet collision illustration (NASA/JPL) NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has observed the aftermath of what scientists believe is the collision of two planetary bodies around a young star. Spitzer observations of HD 172555, a star only about 12 million years old located 100 light-years away, detected the infrared emissions of debris that spectroscopic analysis determined to be amorphous silica, or melted glass, and silicon monoxide gas. Astronomers believe that the debris was created from a collision within the last few thousands years of an object roughly the size of Mercury with one the size of the Moon. Such collisions are thought to have taken place during the formation of our solar system, and in one case led to the creation of the Moon.
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