RECENT studies by four independent teams of astronomers indicate that planetary systems resembling the young solar system may exist in nearby parts of the galaxy. Three of these studies, presented at a recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society, focussed on a star called Beta Pictoris, which is visible from the Southern Hemisphere.
The astronomers found chemical substances in a disk around the star that were identical to substances believed to have been in a similar disk of dust and debris that once surrounded the sun.
The fourth study found evidence of gaps in the dust disks encircling eight other more distant young stars, which are in a giant gas cloud spanning the constellations Taurus and Auriga.
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