When we look up at the sky at night, we see light
produced by stars. The Moon and the planets shine
by reflected starlight. The light from distant galaxies
is the light from hundreds of billions of stars.
Stars form in large clouds of gas and dust. Planets grow
in the circumstellar disk that surrounds every newborn star.
To learn how stars form, CfA scientists study the structure
of dark clouds and the young stars within the clouds. To
study the birth of planets, CfA scientists examine the
structure of circumstellar disks and outflowing jets
associated with the youngest stars.
Once a star is mature, its brightness is fairly steady for
hundreds of millions to tens billions of years. This steadiness
allows planets orbiting a star to develop stable surfaces that
might allow life to develop and perhaps flourish. CfA scientists
study the structure and evolution of stable (and unstable stars) and search for
planets orbiting around them.
Stars and Planets: Formation
Stars and Planets: Structure and Evolution