FIGURE 2.10 Supernova remnant RX J1713.7-3946 observed in the highest-energy tera-electron-volt (TeV) gamma rays. Recent observations using atmospheric Čerenkov telescopes have demonstrated that cosmic rays are accelerated to energies in excess of 100 TeV and that the magnetic field is amplified to high strength. Contours are X-ray emission. Supernova explosions like those that left behind this source created and dispersed heavy elements and also accelerated cosmic rays. SOURCE: The HESS Collaboration: F. Aharonian, A.G. Akhperjanian, A.R. Bazer-Bachi, M. Beilicke, W. Benbow, D. Berge, K. Bernlöhr, C. Boisson, O. Bolz, V. Borrel, I. Braun, F. Breitling, et al., A detailed spectral and morphological study of the gamma-ray supernova remnant RX J1713.7-3946 with H.E.S.S. Astronomy and Astrophysics 449(1):223-242, 2006, © ESO, reproduced with permission.
mordial cosmos salted with the heavy elements out of which planets and life are composed—and evolve with time into dusty disks or rings between the newborn planets themselves. While most if not all stars like our Sun may possess disks early in their histories, what fraction of these turn into planetary systems is not known, but the indications are that it is large.
We have only the most rudimentary ideas about what conditions are necessary for and conducive to the formation of life. Even here modern astronomy has a key role to play, by finding and characterizing planets with the features that allow for life around stars other than the Sun. It will require study of individual planets by