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From Molecular Cores to Planet Forming Disks (c2d)
Since the 1990s, astronomers have identified thousands of exoplanets, indicating that the Milky Way alone could be host to hundreds of billions of planets. However, we are still learning how these planets formed in the first place, crucial information in understanding the variety of systems researchers have cataloged. To fill in those gaps, astronomers from the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian collaborated with others from around the world on the project named “From Molecular Cores to Planet Forming Disks” (c2d). This program used NASA’s Spitzer Infrared Space Telescope to observe star-forming systems and the protoplanetary disks where future planets are born. The c2d program ended its observational phase in the mid-2000s, but maintains a catalog of these systems that continues to be used by astronomers studying star formation.