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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: April 2008
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HL Tau
Astronomers see 'youngest planet'
(Apr 2, 2008)


An embryonic planet detected outside our Solar System could be less than 2,000 years old, astronomers say. The ball of dust and gas, which is in the process of turning into a Jupiter-like giant, was detected around the star HL Tau, by a UK team. Research leader Dr Jane Greaves said the planet's growth may have been kickstarted when another young star passed the system 1,600 years ago.

Read more. Source: BBC

A black hole swallows gas from a companion star in the star system XTE J1650-500. Picture credit: NASA/CXC/A Hobar
Universe's tiniest black hole discovered
(Apr 2, 2008)


Astronomers have identified the smallest known black hole. The puny object weighs only 3.8 times the Sun's mass and spans just 24 kilometres across. The black hole is believed to have formed from the collapse of a massive star when it ran out of fuel.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Approximation location of newly discovered 'peanut' star system in Holmberg IX. Picture credit: Ohio State University
Two new star systems are first of their kind
(Apr 2, 2008)


Astronomers have found a remote star system that is so unusual, it was one of a kind – until its discovery helped them pinpoint a second that is much closer to home. Ohio State University astronomers and their colleagues suggest that these systems are the progenitors of a rare type of supernova. They discovered the first star system 13 million light years away inside the dwarf galaxy Holmberg IX. It contains two massive yellow stars orbiting so close together that the system is shaped like a peanut.

Read more. Source: Ohio State University

Jules Verne ATV maneuvers to within 12 meters of the International Space Station
Dainty space truck proves itself
(Apr 1, 2008)


Europe's "Jules Verne" freighter has demonstrated its ability to make extremely fine movements right next to the International Space Station (ISS). The 20-tonne cargo ship edged up to within 12m of the back of the platform and then moved away to a safe distance.

Read more. Source: BBC

Neutron star with a single mountain (yellow) covering much of its surface and another mostly out of view on the star's other magnetic pole. Magnetic field lines are shown in blue. Picture credit: M. Vigelius/A. Melatos/University of Melbourne
'Mountains' on stars could trigger gravitational waves
(Apr 1, 2008)


Neutron stars – not just rocky planets and moons – can boast topographical features such as plateaus or mountains, a new computer simulation suggests. As the stars rotate, these structures should ripple the surrounding fabric of space, producing gravitational waves that astronomers have long hoped to detect.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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