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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: June 2006
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orbit of 2002 AA29
Corkscrewing asteroid departs Earth's vicinity
(Jun 12, 2006)


An asteroid that has been corkscrewing around Earth in recent years is heading for deep space today, according to NASA. The object, named 2003 YN107, was discovered in 2003. It arrived in Earth's vicinity 1999, scientists have calculated. "It's been corkscrewing around Earth ever since." said Paul Chodas of NASA's Near Earth Object Program at JPL. The rock is relatively small and is not a threat to hit the planet.

Read more. Source: space.com

Hickson Compact Group
Astronomers say star fuel may be caught in cosmic web
(Jun 12, 2006)


Astronomers have detected substantial amounts of filamentary, cold gas in compact groups of galaxies, highlighting what may be an important force in galactic evolution, scientists announced at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Calgary, Alberta. The findings also raise the intriguing possibility that more matter than previously thought may be tied up in these galaxy groups, captured in the lattice of the cosmic web.

Read more. Source: U. of Mass. / Spaceflight Now

new species of hammerhead shark
New shark discovered in US waters
(Jun 11, 2006)


A new type of hammerhead shark has been discovered in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, marine scientists say. The shark resembles a common species called the scalloped hammerhead but has not yet been classified or named. US researchers say the animal appears to be rare, breeding only in waters off the South Carolina coast.

Read more. Source: BBC

Galaxy cluster XMMXCS 2215-1738. Image credit: ESO
Maturity of farthest galaxy cluster surprises astronomers
(Jun 10, 2006)


A ghostly blue blob amid a swarm of red dots in a new cosmic image is the superhot intergalactic gas permeating the space within the most distant cluster of galaxies found to date. Located nearly 10 billion light-years away, Cluster XMMXCS 2215-1738 is being hailed by its discoverers as a tantalizing glimpse of what galaxy clusters were like at their earliest stages of formation.

Read more. Source: space.com

The device image (right) clearly shows the number 5 on this coin
Robot device mimics human touch
(Jun 9, 2006)


A device which may pave the way for robotic hands that can replicate the human sense of touch has been unveiled. US scientists have created a sensor that can "feel" the texture of objects to the same degree of sensitivity as a human fingertip. The team says the tactile sensor could, in the future, aid minimally invasive surgical techniques by giving surgeons a "touch-sensation".

Read more. Source: BBC

Planet formation. Art: Jon Lomberg
Study: 'Planemos' may spawn planets and moons
(Jun 7, 2006)


Forget our traditional ideas of where a planetary system forms – new research led by a University of Toronto astronomer reveals that planetary nurseries can exist not only around stars but also around objects that are themselves not much heftier than Jupiter. It suggests that miniature versions of the solar system may circle objects that are some 100 times less massive than our sun.

Read more. Source: Spaceflight Now / U. of Toronto

Stars and dust in Andromeda
Andromeda adrift in sea of dust in new NASA image
(Jun 6, 2006)


The Andromeda Galaxy, named for the mythological princess who almost fell prey to a sea monster, appears tranquil in a new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The mesmerizing infrared mosaic shows red waves of dust over a blue sea of stars. "What's really interesting about this view is the contrast between the galaxy's smooth, flat disk of old stars and its bumpy waves of dust heated by young stars," said Dr. Pauline Barmby of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass. Barmby and her colleagues recently observed Andromeda using Spitzer.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Arizonan petroglyph possibly showing a supernova
Native Americans recorded supernova explosion
(Jun 5, 2006)


Prehistoric Native Americans may have carved a record of a supernova explosion that appeared in the skies a millennium ago into a rock in Arizona. John Barentine, an astronomer at the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, came across the carving while hiking in the White Tank Mountain Regional Park in Arizona. It depicts a scorpion and an eight-pointed star. "I had just been reading about the supernova of AD 1006 and I knew it appeared in the constellation Scorpius, so the connection flashed into my mind."

Read more. Source: New Scientist

neutron star wake
The case of the neutron star with a wayward wake
(Jun 5, 2006)


A long observation with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed important new details of a neutron star that is spewing out a wake of high-energy particles as it races through space. The deduced location of the neutron star on the edge of a supernova remnant, and the peculiar orientation of the neutron star wake, pose mysteries that remain unresolved.

Read more. Source: Spaceflight Now / Chandra

Wilkes Land crater
Big crater seen beneath ice sheet
(Jun 4, 2006)


What appears to be a 480km-wide (300 miles) crater has been detected under the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. The scientists behind the discovery say it could have been made by a massive meteorite strike 250 million years ago. The feature at Wilkes Land was found by NASA satellites that are mapping subtle differences in the Earth's gravity.

Read more. Source: BBC

asteroid Itokawa
Rubbly Itokawa revealed as 'impossible' asteroid
(Jun 2, 2006)


The small asteroid Itokawa is just a loosely packed pile of rubble that collected after a collision between asteroids, according to a slew of new studies based on data from Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft. The asteroid appears to be plagued by recurring impacts and tremors today, making its continued survival a mystery.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Arctic map
Arctic's tropical past uncovered
(Jun 1, 2006)


Fifty-five million years ago the North Pole was an ice-free zone with tropical temperatures, according to research. A sediment core excavated from 400m (1,300ft) below the seabed of the Arctic Ocean has enabled scientists to delve far back into the region's past. An international team has been able to pin-point the changes that occurred as the Arctic transformed from green house to ice house.

Read more. Source: BBC

Enceladus
Did Saturn's volcanic moon roll with it?
(Jun 1, 2006)


Saturn's tiny moon Enceladus may have tilted over, stabilising itself as warm ice or rock welled up from beneath its surface, a new study suggests. The analysis may explain why there is a "hotspot" that spews water vapour and ice situated exactly on its south pole, while there is nothing comparable on its north pole. The researchers say their tilting theory could be tested by observations of the moon's craters and gravity field by the Cassini probe.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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