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Image of a star in the constellation Taurus surrounded by a ring of dust.
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Image courtesy of STScI

Hubble Images Possible Planet-Forming Systems
News story originally written on February 12, 1999

Scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope's Near-Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) have taken images of possible planet-forming regions. The images show disks of dust circling different stars in the constellation Taurus.

"While the existence of these disks has been known from prior infrared and radio observations, the Hubble images reveal important new details such as a disk's size, shape, thickness, and orientation," said Deborah Padgett of Caltech's Infrared Processing and Analysis Center.

The dust-cloud disks can only be seen edge-on because the stars' light overpowers the reflected light from the disks. Scientists are interested in looking at planet-forming regions because they hope to understand how our Solar System formed.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA