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Astronomers have released a remarkable new image of planetary formation

There’s a taste of the sublime in the photograph of this extrasolar world

By Philip Ball  

The first clear image of a planet caught in formation. Photo: ESO/A. Müller et al.

Just occasionally, the astronomical sciences come up with sights that ought to awaken even in the most dulled sensibility a hint of Edmund Burke’s notion of the Sublime. If, as Burke said, such feelings stem from a sense of danger abrogated by distance and transformed into beauty, the live telescope imagesof comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashing into Jupiter and leaving an Earth-sized hole in 1994 did it for me.

There’s a little taste of the same…

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