The Seven Sisters
The Pleiades star cluster, 460 light-years away, is one of the prettiest sights in the sky. The Seven Sisters Celaeno, Electra, Taygeta, Maia, Asterope, Merope and Alcyone are visible to the naked eye. Very sharp eyes can tell that Asterope 1 and Asterope 2 are 2 distinct stars. The two bright stars on the left are Atlas and Pleione, mythological parents to the Pleiades. The entire cluster contains over 1400 stars. These young blue stars are only a few hundred million years old, still in the process of forming solar systems.
Using the Gemini North telescope atop Mauna Kea and data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers may have found signs of planets forming in the Pleiades. Like many of today's discoveries, this was found by searching old data. In the Spitzer database astronomers found HD23514, a star very similiar to our Sun. Obscured by dust in the nebula, sunlike stars are not easy to see among the hot blue Seven sisters. Further infrared observations from Gemini North revealed a signature of hot dust particles. HD23514 seems to be surrounded by hundred of thousands of times more dust than our Sun. This signature is interpreted as a planetary system in process of formation.
Though astronomers have now found many planets in other solar systems, they are still not sure how planets start forming. Though there is much evidence that planets condense from nebulae, rocks colliding at orbital velocity will not accrete into planets. How infant planets shed their angular momentum is another mystery. Many extrasolar planets are "hot Jupiters," gas giants too close to their parent stars to have condensed. Though they should not exist, planets including Earth form all over the galaxy.
If the dark mass surrounding our galaxy is composed of Black Holes, many times they must collide with nebulae. These collisions would seed formation of stars, planets and even smaller objects. Their continued presence would explain the riddles of internal heat and magnetic fields. If Black Holes surround our galaxy, the evidence for their presence is us.
Proponents of "dark energy" would have us believe that its repulsive presence dominates the Universe. If true, formation of structures would have ceased long ago. In clusters like the Pleiades we see new structures forming to this day. Every time we prepare a Thanksgiving meal demonstrates that complex structures can still form. The beauty of the Pleiades refutes "dark energy."