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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: September 2008
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Hot gas in moving galaxy clusters (white spots) shifts the temperature of cosmic microwaves. Hundreds of distant clusters seem to be moving toward one patch of sky (purple ellipse). Credit: NASA/WMAP/A. Kashlinsky et al.
Scientists detect cosmic 'dark flow' across billions of light years
(Sep 26, 2008)

Using data from NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), scientists have identified an unexpected motion in distant galaxy clusters. The cause, they suggest, is the gravitational attraction of matter that lies beyond the observable universe. "The clusters show a small but measurable velocity that is independent of the universe's expansion and does not change as distances increase," says lead researcher Alexander Kashlinsky at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "We never expected to find anything like this."

Read more. Source: NASA Goddard

Shenzou-VII astronauts
China awaits manned spaceflight
(Sep 25, 2008)

The Chinese space programme is about to launch its third manned mission. The Shenzhou-VII capsule will go into orbit atop a Long-March II-F rocket from the Jiuquan spaceport in Gansu province in the northwest of China. The flight is expected to last in the region of 70 hours and will include the first spacewalk, undertaken by 42-year-old fighter pilot Zhai Zhigang. Mr Zhai is joined on the mission by two other "yuhangyuan" (astronauts) – Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng.

Read more. Source: BBC

Ulysses reveals global solar wind plasma output at 50-year low
(Sep 24, 2008)

Data from the Ulysses spacecraft, a joint NASA-European Space Agency mission, show the sun has reduced its output of solar wind to the lowest levels since the beginning of the space age accurate readings became available. The sun's current state could reduce the natural shielding that envelops our solar system.

Read more. Source: NASA

Victoria and Endeavour craters
Mars rover to head toward bigger crater
(Sep 23, 2008)

NASA's Mars Rover Opportunity is setting its sights on a crater more than 20 times larger than its home for the past two years. To reach the crater the rover team calls Endeavour, Opportunity would need to drive approximately 12 km (7 miles) to the southeast, matching the total distance it has traveled since landing on Mars in early 2004. The rover climbed out of Victoria Crater earlier this month.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Two shuttles
Space Shuttle Endeavour moves to launch pad 39B
(Sep 22, 2008)

For the first time since July 2001, two shuttles are on the launch pads at the same time at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Space shuttle Endeavour completed a 4.2-mile journey to Launch Pad 39B on Friday, Sept. 19, at 6:59 a.m. EDT. Endeavour left Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building at 11:15 p.m. Thursday, traveling at less than 1 mph atop a massive crawler-transporter.

Read more. Source: NASA

Hadron Collider halted for months
(Sep 21, 2008)

The Large Hadron Collider near Geneva will be out of action for at least two months, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) says. Part of the giant physics experiment was turned off for the weekend while engineers probed a magnet failure. But a CERN spokesman said damage to the 3.6bn ($6.6bn) particle accelerator was worse than anticipated.

Read more. Source: BBC

GRB 080913
Cosmic explosion is most distant ever seen
(Sep 20, 2008)

Astronomers have detected the most distant gamma-ray burst ever found. The cosmic explosion came from a star that detonated about 12.8 billion light years from Earth. The new record holder, called GRB 080913, was first detected on 13 September by NASA's Swift space observatory. Telescopes around the world soon detected its afterglow at longer wavelengths, and the light spectrum they observed revealed its incredible distance.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Segue 1
Astronomers find universe's dimmest known galaxy
(Sep 19, 2008)

Astronomers have identified what appears to be the dimmest galaxy in the universe. Although it shines with the brightness of only a few hundred Suns, it seems to be full of dark matter, making it an ideal candidate to search for evidence of the mysterious material. [Images: left: Segue 1 among background and foreground stars (credit: Sloan Digital Sky Survey); right: The galaxy's 24 known stars singled out (credit: M. Geha)]

Read more. Source: New Scientist

HH 211
Water hit with young star's best shot
(Sep 19, 2008)

Water is being blasted to pieces by a young star's laser-like jets, according to new observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The discovery provides a better understanding of how water – an essential ingredient for life as we know it – is processed in emerging solar systems.

Read more. Source: Spitzer Space Telescope

emission from a supermassive black hole
X-ray pulse seen in biggest holes
(Sep 18, 2008)

Scientists have found what they describe as a missing link between the behaviour of the smallest and the biggest black holes. Star-sized black holes often pulse X-rays as they pull gas into themselves and tear it apart. Durham University researchers say they have now witnessed this same pulsing signature in the supermassive black holes that reside at the cores of galaxies.

Read more. Source: BBC

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