by Rachel L. Smith
Soon I will be leaving the Earth-based realities of the Nature Research Center to observe massive forming stars beyond the Solar System, part of my research in exploring the chemistry of forming solar systems — environments much like our own Solar System was about 4.6 billion years ago.
An example of a stellar nursery is the Orion Nebula, a small fuzzy patch within the “sword” of the Orion constellation, but to astronomers a brilliant region of star and solar system formation. Some of the forming stars in my study come from within this nebula.
To observe these exciting solar system nurseries, I and a collaborating student from the California Institute of Technology, (my home institution prior the Nature Research Center) will be venturing off to the Keck Observatory in Waimea on the main island of Hawaii. There, we will observe from Keck Headquarters a few miles from the summit…
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