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four-galaxy collision
Galaxies clash in four-way merger
(Aug 6, 2007)

Four gigantic galaxies have been seen crashing into one another in one of the biggest cosmic collisions ever seen. A US team of astronomers observed the four-way cosmic smash-up using NASA's Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes along with ground-based observatories. The clashing galaxies are expected to eventually merge into a single, behemoth galaxy up to 10 times as massive as our own Milky Way.

Read more. Source: BBC

Largest known exoplanet puzzles astronomers
(Aug 6, 2007)

A newly discovered alien planet has a record-breaking low density – about the same as that of balsawood. Astronomers say the planet, called TrES-4, could be losing grip of its puffed-up atmosphere. "TrES-4 is the largest known exoplanet," says Georgi Mandushev from Lowell Observatory in Arizona.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Mars south polar region
Lander targets Mars' water
(Aug 6, 2007)

When NASA's Phoenix lander arrives at Mars next May, it will join a flotilla of spacecraft already at the red planet working as a team of robotic scientists to probe the existence of water. Two NASA orbiters and a European craft are currently circling Mars. NASA's two Mars rovers are also operating in their fourth year since landing in January 2004.

Read more. Source: Spaceflight Now

launch of the Phoenix probe
Lift off for NASA's Mars probe
(Aug 4, 2007)

NASA has launched a spacecraft on a nine-month journey to Mars, where it will dig below the surface for clues to the existence of past or present life. The Phoenix probe lifted off at 0526 EDT (1026 BST) from Cape Canaveral, Florida, atop a Delta II rocket. If everything goes to plan, Phoenix should arrive at Mars in late May 2008.

Read more. Source: BBC

artist's impression of a planet orbiting a red giant. Credit: Dirk Tart
Planet orbiting giant red star discovered
(Aug 4, 2007)

A planet orbiting a giant red star has been discovered by an astronomy team led by Penn State's Alex Wolszczan, who in 1992 discovered the first planets ever found outside this solar system. The new discovery is helping astronomers to understand what will happen to the planets in this solar system when the sun becomes a red giant.

Read more. Source: Penn. State Univ.

Slim chance of tuning in to alien TV
(Aug 4, 2007)

Alien-hunters hoping to eavesdrop on extraterrestrial TV may be in for disappointment. It has been suggested that the next generation of radio telescopes, such as LOFAR, now being built in the Netherlands, could be used to detect radio noise from alien radio and TV. So Marko Horvat, a computer scientist at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, calculated the odds of detecting alien civilisations of different lifespans from their radio signals.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

a bright arc in Saturn's G ring
Saturn ring created by remains of long-dead moon
(Aug 3, 2007)

Dust cast off the shattered remains of a long-dead moon of Saturn is the source of a mysterious ring around the giant planet, suggest observations by the Cassini spacecraft. The moon's broken body appears to be kept in line by the gravitational influence of another moon called Mimas.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

plume emanating from the south pole of Enceladus
Cassini probe may fly through Saturn moon's plume
(Aug 2, 2007)

In a daring act of space-obatics, the Cassini probe is to buzz one of Saturn's stranger moons. If NASA opts for the most precarious of the trajectories under consideration, Cassini will approach within just 30 kilometres of Enceladus before flying through a plume of steam emanating from its south pole.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Phoenix spacecraft
Launch of NASA Mars probe delayed
(Aug 1, 2007)

The launch of NASA's latest mission to Mars has been delayed by 24 hours. The Phoenix spacecraft was to have launched on Friday, but lift-off has now been rescheduled. Severe weather on Tuesday around the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, prevented engineers from fuelling the second stage of the rocket.

Read more. Source: BBC

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