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NASA's Spitzer scopes out huge asteroid smashup. And just misses it.
NASA's Spitzer scopes out huge asteroid smashup. And just misses it.

When Spitzer Space Telescope captured the billowing aftermath of a colossal asteroid smashup 1,200 light-years away, scientists realized they were watching a scene much like the one that played out billions of years ago in our own solar system. They had a front-row seat to Earth-like planet formation. And it wasn't pretty. "Rocky-planet formation is a messy process," said Kate Su, an astronomer at the University of Arizona and coauthor of a new study in the journal Science. The Milky Way is believed to have started with a cloud of gas and dust, wherein stars formed, then planets around them. At first these planets were balls of dust and rock, formed by accretion. Those...

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