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Atom & Cosmos

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microlensing illustration

QUICK FLASH  The light from a distant star may temporarily brighten when a free-floating planet passes in front of the star. This artist’s illustration shows how a rogue planet’s gravity distorts and focuses distant starlight as a ring around the planet.

synestia illustration

PUFFED UP  Early in its development, a rocky planet may turn into a synestia (illustrated), a spinning disk of vaporized rock that looks like a jelly-filled doughnut with a small, solid core (gray).

telescope in Argentina

LYING IN WAIT  The New Horizons team spread 24 of these small telescopes around southern Argentina to catch a cosmic coincidence.

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