Hubble looks back to dawn of creation and finds evidence in the stars that we may not be alone

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The Independent Online
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Pictures from the Hubble space telescope have confirmed theories that the solar system's planets were formed from clouds of dust surrounding a huge star. The finding supports the view that life could exist elsewhere in the universe, since planets are necessary for life and the photographs raise the likelihood that more planets exist than had been previously believed.

Robert O'Dell, an astronomer from Rice University, in Houston, Texas, said the newly repaired telescope had sent back clear pictures of 56 huge, flat disks of dust swirling around stars in the Orion Nebula (above), about 1,500 light years from Earth.

'Since it is easier to detect the star than the disk, it is likely that far more stars are being orbited by protoplanetary material,' he said. Mr O'Dell measured a portion of the mass of a dust disk and found that it contained enough material to make a planet the size of Earth.

(Photograph omitted)