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Featured 03-30-2011 The Cutting Edge
FEATURES in the SPOTLIGHT! ~ March 30
Nadya Johnson

As always, we do our best to select features based on their artistic merit, creativity, uniqueness, visual impact and relation to our group theme. So we look for the “Wow!” factor ~ and the “Edge” factor! lol (That relation can be direct or indirect, and is not always easy to define. But it ignites a sense of awe and wonder and inspires us to learn a little more about the Cosmic Questions and/or principles each artist is exploring in their work.) With that, here are the 12 brilliant images we are proud to feature for the week! (You can reach the individual artists through the links). Enjoy!

Featured 03-28-2011 The World As We See It
Featured 03-29-2011 Abstract Art
Featured 03-30-2011 Inspired Art

A new planet discovered orbiting a bloated red star is the first world we know of that was born in another galaxy.

Since the mid-1990s astronomers have been adding to the list of known exoplanets, planets that exist outside our solar system. The nearly 500 exoplanets found so far all formed in our home galaxy, the Milky Way.

(See “Five New Planets Found; Hotter Than Molten Lava.”)

But the newest member of the exoplanet club, dubbed HIP 13044b, was found in a stream of vagrant stars that loop around the Milky Way. Astronomers think this stellar stream is all that remains of a dwarf galaxy that once orbited the Milky Way.

About six billion years ago the Milky Way collided with and mostly absorbed this unnamed galaxy, leaving a trail of stars that now zips around our galaxy at more than 600,000 miles (965,600 kilometers) an hour.

The newfound planet “likely formed when the star was not yet a part of the Milky Way. It’s traveled with the star all this time,” said study leader Johny Setiawan, an astronomer at the Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany.

The discovery is the first proof astronomers have that planet formation can indeed take place in other galaxies, added Oskar von der Lühe, an astronomer at the Kiepenheuer-Institut für Sonnen-physik in Germany who was not involved in the study.

“It also demonstrates that planet formation takes place in galaxies of a different class than the Milky Way,” von der Lühe wrote in an email. “These galaxies have a quite different pattern of evolution and star-formation history.”

Ker Than
for National Geographic News
Published November 18, 2010

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