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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: January 2009
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Some of the universe's early massive galaxies show bursts of star formation but no evidence of collisions. Cold gas piped in along filaments of dark matter could be responsible for the starbursts. Image: Dekel et al
Dark matter filaments stoked star birth in early galaxies
(Jan 22, 2009)


Tendrils of dark matter channelled gas deep into the hearts of some of the universe's earliest galaxies, a new computer simulation suggests. The result could explain how some massive galaxies created vast numbers of stars without gobbling up their neighbors.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Artist's impression of a black hole
Do naked singularities break the rules of physics?
(Jan 22, 2009)


Conventional wisdom has it that a large star eventually collapses to a black hole, but some theoretical models suggest it might instead become a so-called naked singularity. Sorting out what happens is one of the most important unresolved problems in astrophysics.

Read more. Source: Scientific American

Moon
Astronomers crack longstanding lunar mystery
(Jan 21, 2009)


The collection of rocks that the Apollo astronauts brought back from the Moon carried with it a riddle that has puzzled scientists since the early 1970s: What produced the magnetization found in many of those rocks? The longstanding puzzle has now been solved by researchers at MIT. Magnetic traces recorded in the rock provide strong evidence that 4.2 billion years ago the moon had a liquid core with a dynamo, like Earth's core today, that produced a strong magnetic field.

Read more. Source: MIT

terrestrial planes
Were Mercury and Mars separated at birth?
(Jan 20, 2009)


Line up Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars according to their distance from the sun and you'll see their size distribution is close to symmetrical, with the two largest planets between the two smallest. That would be no coincidence – if the pattern emerged from a debris ring around the sun.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Earthlike planet
Smallest known planet may actually be Earth-mass
(Jan 19, 2009)


The smallest planet yet detected around an ordinary star, called MOA-2007-BLG-192-L b, may be even smaller than first thought. A new analysis suggests the rocky body weighs just 1.4 Earths – less than half the original estimate. Observations over the next few months should test the prediction.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Haworth and Shoemaker craters
NASA radar provides first look inside Moon's shadowed craters
(Jan 18, 2009)


Using a NASA radar flying aboard India's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, scientists are getting their first look inside the Moon's coldest, darkest craters. The Mini-SAR instrument, a lightweight, synthetic aperture radar, has passed its initial in-flight tests and sent back its first data. The images show the floors of permanently-shadowed polar craters on the moon that aren't visible from Earth.

Read more. Source: NASA

galaxy and dark matter
Did dark energy give us our cosmos?
(Jan 17, 2009)


Our universe may have arisen from seeds preserved in a universe that existed before the big bang – all thanks to dark energy. One of the models put forward to explain how the universe began proposes that it is just the latest phase in a never-ending cycle.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

The Sculptor Dwarf galaxy, with the position of carbon star MAG 29 noted. Image credit: Palomar Digitized Sky Survey
Dust around a primitive star sheds light on universe's origins
(Jan 16, 2009)


A Cornell-led team of astronomers has observed dust forming around a dying carbon star in a nearby galaxy, giving a glimpse into the early universe and enlivening a debate about the origins of all cosmic dust. The findings are reported in the Jan. 16 issue of the journal Science. Cornell research associate Greg Sloan led the study, which was based on observations with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

Read more. Source: Cornell University

Nili Fossae. Image credit: NASA
New light on Mars methane mystery
(Jan 15, 2009)


Large quantities of methane gas have been detected on Mars, NASA scientists have announced in Science journal. The gas could be produced either by geological activity or by life. Methane was detected in the Martian atmosphere five years ago; scientists have found it is more abundant over particular parts of the planet.

Read more. Source: BBC

hot Jupiter
Glow of 'hot Jupiters' spotted from Earth for first time
(Jan 15, 2009)


The glow of 'hot Jupiter' planets has been detected with ground-based telescopes for the first time. The detections are just a first step, astronomers say. But the advance could help settle a mystery over why some of the massive, close-in planets are scorchingly hot on one half and fairly cool on the other, while others seem to spread their heat more evenly.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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