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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by Contract NNX08AN97G between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Contract AST-0743899 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation, and Contract DE-FG02-08ER41542 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Energy. Support for this study was also provided by the Vesto Slipher Fund. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agencies that provided support for the project.

Cover: Complexity abounds in the universe, especially during the birth phases of stars and planetary systems. The M17 region, also known as the Omega Nebula, in the constellation Sagittarius is rich in massive stars, including those recently formed and already impacting their environment (bright nebulous regions—e.g., back lower), as well as those still in the process of formation within cold dense clouds (dark regions—e.g., front center). Provinces such as this within our galaxy and others allow astronomers to understand and quantify the cycling of matter and energy within the cosmic ecosystem. The image depicts mid-infrared emission at 3.6- to 24-micrometer wavelengths as detected by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, although the region has been studied from high-frequency gamma-ray to low-frequency radio energies. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Dedication (p. xxxiii): Photo courtesy of American Astronomical Society.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

National Research Council (U.S.). Committee for a Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

New worlds, new horizons in astronomy and astrophysics / Committee for a Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Board on Physics and Astronomy, Space Studies Board, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-0-309-15802-2 (case bdg.) — ISBN 978-0-309-15799-5 (pbk.) — ISBN 978-0-309-15800-8 (pdf)

1. Astronomy—Research—Forecasting. 2. Astrophysics—Research—Forecasting. 3. Research—International cooperation. I. Title.

QB61.N385 2011



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