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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: August 2007
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galaxy
Google Earth given celestial view
(Aug 23, 2007)


The constellations of Andromeda, Hydra and Vulpecula are now just a mouse click away for amateur star-gazers, following the launch of Google Sky. The tool is an add-on to Google Earth, a program that allows users to search a 3D rendition of our planet's surface. Sky will allow astronomers a chance to glide through images of more than one million stars and 200 million galaxies.

Read more. Source: BBC

zircon with diamond inclusion
Diamond record of ancient Earth
(Aug 23, 2007)


Tiny diamonds found in Australia suggest the early Earth was not a hellish world for as long as previously supposed, the journal Nature reports. The miniature gems, from Jack Hills in the west of the country, are encased in zircon crystals that have been dated up to 4.25 billion years ago. Scientists say their analysis of the diamonds suggests the planet had cooled sufficiently by then to form a crust.

Read more. Source: BBC

solar activity imaged by the Hinode satellite
Vibrations on the Sun may 'shake' the Earth
(Aug 22, 2007)


What do dropped mobile phone calls, mysterious signals in undersea communications cables, and tiny tremors on the Earth have in common? They are all caused by vibrations on the Sun, according to one team of scientists. But other researchers question the claim, arguing that the pulsations may never escape the Sun's surface in the first place.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

space shuttle Endeavour returning safely to Earth
Endeavour shuttle returns safely
(Aug 21, 2007)


Space shuttle Endeavour has landed in Florida after a two-week mission to the International Space Station (ISS) was cut short by Hurricane Dean. NASA had feared that mission control in Houston would have to be evacuated if the storm lurched towards Texas, but in the end, the facility was not affected. The space agency also opted not to repair a 9cm (3.5in) gouge in the shuttle's underside before its return.

Read more. Source: BBC

neutron star
Rare dead star found near Earth
(Aug 20, 2007)


Astronomers have spotted a space oddity in Earth's neighbourhood: a dead star with some unusual characteristics. The object – known as a neutron star – was studied using space telescopes and ground-based observatories. But this one, located in the constellation Ursa Minor, seems to lack some key characteristics found in other neutron stars.

Read more. Source: BBC

SN 2006gy
Was the brightest supernova the birth of a quark star?
(Aug 20, 2007)


The breakdown of matter into its tiniest quark components in a star's core may have triggered the brightest supernova ever seen, a controversial new study says. If correct, this would be the first time anyone has seen the birth of an exotic object called a quark star. On 18 September 2006, astronomers observed the record-breaking supernova, called 2006gy, and were shocked to find that it was intrinsically about 100 times brighter than typical stellar explosions.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

astronaut Dave Williams carries out a spacewalk
Hurricane fears shorten spacewalk
(Aug 19, 2007)


Hurricane Dean has led NASA to shorten a spacewalk by astronauts aboard the shuttle Endeavour to allow the shuttle to return to Earth earlier. The American space agency is concerned that, if Hurricane Dean veers towards the Texas coast, it could affect Mission Control in Houston. The final space walk was cut by two hours so the astronauts could prepare for a Tuesday landing.

Read more. Source: BBC

comet Tempel 1
Did life begin on comets?
(Aug 17, 2007)


Chandra Wickramasinghe from Cardiff University has long argued the case for cometary panspermia, the idea that comets are infected with primitive life forms and delivered life to the early Earth. That would explain why life on Earth arose so quickly after our planet formed around 4.5 billion years ago. Wickramasinghe says the case has been bolstered by NASA's Deep Impact probe, which blasted Comet Tempel 1 with a projectile in July 2005.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Abel 520
Cosmic 'train wreck' defies dark matter theories
(Aug 16, 2007)


Disturbing evidence has emerged from the wreckage of an intergalactic pile-up suggesting that the already mysterious substance known as dark matter may be even less well understood than astronomers thought. The observations come from a massive galaxy cluster called Abell 520 that lies 3 billion light years away and results from a high-speed collision between smaller galaxy clusters.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

GALEX image of Mira
Colossal tail trails dying star
(Aug 15, 2007)


A distant star that hurtles through space at extraordinary speeds has a huge, comet-like tail trailing in its wake, astronomers say. The appendage, which measures a colossal 13 light years in length, was spotted by NASA's GALEX space telescope. The researchers said that nothing like it had ever been spotted around a star. They believe the star, known as Mira, will help them to study what happens as stars meet their demise.

Read more. Source: BBC

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