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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: June 2006
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Sicily
Underwater volcano found by Italy
(Jun 23, 2006)


A huge underwater volcano has been discovered 40km (25 miles) off the southern coast of Sicily. The Italian scientists who discovered the volcano have named it Empedocles. The volcano's base covers an area larger than Rome, and it's higher than Paris' Eiffel Tower with one peak only seven metres below the sea's surface.

Read more. Source: BBC

Earth's magnetosphere interacts with the solar wind to create the bow shock: the white rectangle shows where the recent 'hot bubble' observations were made (Image: ESA)
Giant hot bubbles may help protect Earth
(Jun 22, 2006)


Giant superheated bubbles of gas are drifting towards Earth and popping as they encounter our planet's magnetic field, new findings reveal. Researchers suspect the bubbles may actually feed the "bow shock" that is created where the solar wind rams into our planet's magnetic field.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

cluster of galaxies
Hawking rewrites history... backwards
(Jun 22, 2006)


How did the Universe begin? Many scientists would regard this as one of the most profound questions of all. But to Stephen Hawking, who has perhaps come closer than anyone to answering it, the question doesn't in fact even exist. Hawking, based at the University of Cambridge, and his colleague Thomas Hertog of the European Laboratory for Particle Physics at CERN in Geneva, are about to publish a paper claiming that the Universe had no unique beginning.

Read more. Source: Nature

Pluto and its moons
Pluto's newest moons named Hydra and Nix
(Jun 22, 2006)


The International Astronomical Union has officially christened Pluto's two newest moons Nix and Hydra. The tiny satellites were discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope last May and are believed to have been formed from the same giant impact that carved out Charon, Pluto's larger satellite, discovered in 1978. The names were proposed this spring by the team that discovered the satellites. Before the satellites received their official names, they were called P1 and P2.

Read more. Source: space.com

black hole and accretion disk
Magnetic fields snare black holes' food
(Jun 22, 2006)


"Everyone thinks that if the sun turned into a black hole tomorrow we'd all be sucked in, but that just wouldn't happen," says astronomer Andy Fabian at the University of Cambridge. "The Earth wouldn't really notice the difference – it would keep happily orbiting." That's because unless something stripped the Earth of its angular momentum, it would continue in its path exactly as before. The same is true of matter in the "accretion disc" around a black hole, which raises the puzzle of how black holes manage to slurp this matter in.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Pluto and Charon
Crunch time for Planet Pluto
(Jun 21, 2006)


At its conference this August, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) will make a decision that could see Pluto lose its status as a planet. For the first time, the organisation will be officially defining the word "planet", and it is causing much debate in the world of astronomy. There is only one thing that everyone seems to agree on: there are no longer nine planets in the Solar System.

Read more. Source: BBC

asteroid skimming the atmosphere
Global warming claimed to increase asteroid risk
(Jun 20, 2006)


A University of Michigan space scientist is worried that global warming is increasing the risk that an asteroid could, one day, collide with the Earth. The seemingly impossible connection is due to a basic law of physics: when a gas is heated, it expands. "Some large meteoroids have skimmed the outer reaches of Earth's atmosphere, skipping off back into outer space", said Professor Charles Boyle, chairman of U. of M.'s Near-Earth Asteroid Team (NEAT).

Read more. Source: ecoEnquirer.com

Hubble Space Telescope
Enigmatic object baffles supernova team
(Jun 19, 2006)


An astronomical enigma has been spotted by a team hunting for very distant supernovas for their studies of the early universe. At first glance, the object discovered on 22 February in the constellation Bootes resembled an ordinary supernova. But it kept growing brighter for much too long, and its spectrum was abnormal. The mysterious object was spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys and took at least 100 days to reach peak brightness, says Kyle Dawson of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Launch of KazSat-1
First Kazakh satellite into orbit
(Jun 19, 2006)


Kazakhstan has launched its first communications satellite, entering the ranks of the space-exploring nations. The unmanned KazSat-1 satellite was launched from the Baikonur space centre in the west of the country. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev watched the launch from nearby with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

Read more. Source: BBC

Shuttle
Safety fears as Shuttle date set
(Jun 18, 2006)


NASA is to launch the space shuttle Discovery on 1 July, despite warnings from senior safety officials and engineers that it is not safe to fly. A meeting held to set the launch date was split on whether the problem of foam chunks breaking away – which brought down the Columbia – was fixed. Safety officials said modifications carried out since the problem recurred a year ago were still not enough.

Read more. Source: BBC

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