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In the past few days, scientists have unveiled plenty to ooh and aah over:
• Photos of "blue blobs" that astronomers figure are orphaned baby stars. They're called orphans because they were "born in the middle of nowhere" instead of within gas clouds, said Catholic University of America astronomer Duilia F. de Mello.
• A strange quadruplet of four hugging stars, which may eventually help astronomers understand better how stars form.
• A young star surrounded by dust, that may eventually become a planet. It's nicknamed "the moth," because the interaction of star and dust are shaped like one.
• A spiral galaxy with two pairs of arms spinning in opposite directions, like a double pinwheel. It defies what astronomers believe should happen. It is akin to one of those spinning-armed flamingo lawn ornaments, said astronomer Gene Byrd of the University of Alabama.
• The equivalent of post-menopausal stars giving unlikely birth to new planets. Most planets form soon after a sun, but astronomers found two older stars, one at least 400 million years old, with new planets.
"Intellectually and spiritually, if I can use that word with a lower case 's,' it's awe-inspiring," Wheeler said. "It's a great universe."
Never heard of orphaned stars before.