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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: September 2006
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Astronomers peer at distant epoch
(Sep 14, 2006)

Galaxies were forming in the Universe about 700 million years after the Big Bang, scientists say, but very large groupings of stars were rare. The evidence comes from two new studies reported in the journal Nature. One identifies a galaxy that is 12.8 billion light-years away, meaning it would have formed when the cosmos was about 6% of its current age.

Read more. Source: BBC

Eris imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope
Astronomers name 'world of chaos'
(Sep 14, 2006)

The distant world whose discovery prompted leading astronomers to demote Pluto from the rank of "planet" has now been given its own official name. Having caused so much consternation in the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the object has been called Eris, after the Greek goddess of discord.

Read more. Source: BBC

hypervelocity star escaping from the Galazy, artist's impression
Puny black holes can eject Milky Way's stars
(Sep 14, 2006)
Tiny black holes near the galaxy's centre can fling stars out of the Milky Way at break-neck speeds, a new study suggests. Previously, only the supermassive black hole there was thought to be able to produce these hypervelocity stars. The researchers say the small black holes could actually be ejecting more stars than the central black hole does on its own, and that observing the stars could shed light on the elusive population of mini-black holes themselves.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

P3/P4 truss connection
First spacewalk for Atlantis crew
(Sep 13, 2006)

Two US astronauts have completed a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS). Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Joe Tanner wired up a new $372m (293m) addition, which will provide power, data and communication services. A bolt, spring and washer floated free during the work, and NASA is examining whether it could cause problems.

Read more. Source: BBC

P3/P4 truss being unloaded
Shuttle astronauts camp out at space station
(Sep 12, 2006)

The International Space Station's spine-like truss will grow by 14 metres on Tuesday, if all goes as planned. The crews of the space shuttle Atlantis and the ISS spent Monday preparing for this addition. Using the shuttle's Canadian robotic arm, astronauts Dan Burbank and Chris Ferguson lifted the 16-tonne P3/P4 truss segment out of the space shuttle Atlantis's payload bay.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Probe to study mighty explosions
(Sep 11, 2006)

Scientists have been giving details of a new mission to explore the Sun. Solar-B is a Japanese spacecraft which will have three telescopes to study solar flares, the huge bursts of energy which erupt from the Sun's surface. Flares can hurl particles and radiation at the Earth, disrupting communications and posing a hazard to astronauts.

Read more. Source: BBC

launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis, Sep. 9, 2006
Shuttle Atlantis blasts off successfully at last
(Sep 10, 2006)

After nearly four years of stunted growth, the International Space Station (ISS) is finally getting a chance to expand again. The space shuttle Atlantis successfully lifted off at 1114 EDT (1514 GMT) on Saturday, carrying with it six astronauts and a 15,875-kilogram (35,000-pound) truss that will attach to the station and eventually double its power.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Victoria crater
Rover nears crater science trove
(Sep 9, 2006)

NASA's robotic Mars rover Opportunity is closing in on what could be the richest scientific "treasure trove" of its mission so far. Within the next two weeks, Opportunity should reach the rim of a crater wider and deeper than any it has visited in more than two-and-a-half years on Mars. Rocks exposed in the walls of Victoria Crater could open a new window into the geological history of the Red Planet.

Read more. Source: BBC

artist impression of CHXR 73 B
Newfound object further blurs planet definition
(Sep 9, 2006)

The Hubble Space Telescope has spied one of the smallest objects ever detected around a normal star. The object further blurs the line between stars and planets and raises new questions about how planets should be defined outside our solar system. Announcement of the discovery comes two weeks after the International Astronomical Union approved the first official definition of "planet" for our solar system and downgraded Pluto to dwarf planet status. The newly spotted object is a companion to CHXR 73, a low-mass red dwarf star located 500 light-years from Earth, and is itself called CHXR 73 B.

Read more. Source:

Earth-like planet
Earth-like planets may be common
(Sep 8, 2006)

Earth-like planets orbiting other stars may be far more common than had once been thought, a study suggests. Because of the way we currently look for planets around other stars, most that have been detected so far have been gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn. But one third of these giant planet systems may also harbour worlds like our own, according to an analysis by scientists in the US.

Read more. Source: BBC

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