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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: August 2008
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W5 star-forming region
Generations of stars pose for family portrait
(Aug 25, 2008)


A new image from the Spitzer Space Telescope tells a tale of life and death amidst a rich family history. The striking infrared picture shows a colorful cosmic cloud, called W5, studded with multiple generations of blazing stars. It also provides dramatic new evidence that massive stars – through their brute winds and radiation – can trigger the birth of stellar newborns.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Simulation of a gas cloud falling into a black hole
Black hole star mystery 'solved'
(Aug 23, 2008)


Astronomers have shed light on how stars can form around a massive black hole, defying conventional wisdom. Scientists have long wondered how stars develop in such extreme conditions. Molecular clouds – the normal birth places of stars – would be ripped apart by the immense gravity, a team explains in Science magazine. But the researchers say stars can form from elliptical discs – the relics of giant gas clouds torn apart by encounters with black holes.

Read more. Source: BBC

A powerful X-ray flare erupting from the Sun. Credit: NASA/ESA
Some solar flares may be caused by dark matter
(Aug 23, 2008)


Some solar flares may be caused by dark matter particles called axions spewing out from the centre of the Sun, new calculations suggest. Solar flares are sudden changes in the Sun's brightness thought to be caused when twisted magnetic fields on the Sun snap and reconnect explosively. But they could also be caused by dark matter, the mysterious entity that makes up most of the universe's mass.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

NGC 1275
Galactic 'spaghetti monster' powered by magnetic fields
(Aug 22, 2008)


Long-lived magnetic fields are sustaining a mammoth network of spaghetti-like gas filaments around a black hole, a new study suggests. Previously, it was not clear what prevented the delicate filaments from being destroyed by competing gravitational forces. The black hole lies at the heart of a large galaxy known as NGC 1275.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

exoplanet
Planets without metal cores may be bad for life
(Aug 21, 2008)


Some planets beyond our solar system might be rocky like Earth, but lack its gooey metallic middle, a new study suggests. Such 'coreless' terrestrial planets would not have magnetic fields, which would make them inhospitable to life as we know it.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

The globular cluster Omega Centauri. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ NOAO/AURA/NSF
Most black holes might come in only small and large
(Aug 21, 2008)


Black holes are sometimes huge cosmic beasts, billions of times the mass of our sun, and sometimes petite with just a few times the sun's mass. But do black holes also come in size medium? A new study suggests that, for the most part, the answer is no. A team of astronomers has thoroughly examined a globular cluster called RZ2109 and determined that it cannot possess a medium black hole.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

This mosaic of images shows Phoenix's workspace with the major trenches and features that have been informally named as of Sol 84 (Aug. 19, 2008), the 84th Martian day after landing. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M University
Phoenix Mars Lander explores site by trenching
(Aug 21, 2008)


NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander scientists and engineers are continuing to dig into the area around the lander with the spacecraft's robotic arm, looking for new materials to analyze and examining the soil and ice subsurface structure. New trenches opened recently include the "Burn Alive 3" trench in the "Wonderland" digging area in the eastern portion of the arm's reachable workspace. Researchers choose such names informally to aid discussion.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

map of the distribution of galaxies in a thin wedge on the sky, from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-II). Credit: M. Blanton and the SDSS
Cosmic voids were emptied by gravity
(Aug 20, 2008)


The largest 3-dimensional maps of the universe show that galaxies lie in filamentary superclusters interlaced by cosmic voids tens of millions of light years across that contain few or no bright galaxies. Researchers analyzing the two largest maps, from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-II) and the Two-Degree Field Galaxy Redshift Survey (2dFGRS), have concluded that these voids are also missing the "halos" of invisible dark matter that bright galaxies reside in.

Read more. Source: Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Orbit of 2006 SQ372. Credit: N. Kaib
First object seen from solar system's inner Oort cloud
(Aug 18, 2008)


Add yet another new class of objects to the solar system's growing bestiary – the first known visitor from the inner part of the Oort cloud, where many comets originate. The object, thought to measure between 50 and 100 kilometres wide, was first discovered two years ago in a search for faint supernovae.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Artist impression of a star stream from a dwarf galaxy. Credit: Caltech
Eleven new streams of stars found in Milky Way
(Aug 17, 2008)


Eleven new streams of stars may have been spotted in the Milky Way in a survey of a quarter million stars. The streams may provide new forensic evidence of the Milky Way's violence, as they were likely ripped from dwarf galaxies that were gobbled up by our galaxy.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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