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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: July 2009
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Primordial clouds of gas can give birth to single stars and also to twins, a new simulation suggests. Illustration: Science/AAAS
Universe's first stars may have been twins
(Jul 10, 2009)


Up to half of the universe's first stars may have been born in pairs, a new study suggests. Since each star in a pair is likely to be smaller than a single star created from the same natal material, the work may help explain why so far no evidence has been found for exotic physical processes thought to occur in super-heavy stars from the early universe.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Eta Carinae jettisoned the twin Homunculus clouds in 1843 and is expected, like the ancient supernova recently found, to meet its end as a type IIn supernova. Image: Jon Morse/University of Colorado/NASA
Ancient supernova is oldest and most distant found
(Jul 9, 2009)


Astronomers have turned up the oldest and most distant supernova ever found: the star that created it detonated just 3 billion years after the big bang. The technique used to find it could reveal tens of thousands of other ancient supernovae, tracing out how the universe became seeded over time with heavy elements. [Image: Eta Carinae, a nearby star expected to blow up as a type IIa supernova in the relatively near future.]

Read more. Source: New Scientist

artist impression of an exoplanets
Exoplanet pairs may be masquerading as singles
(Jul 8, 2009)


More than a hundred previously undetected exoplanets may be hiding in existing telescope data, a re-analysis of old data suggests. Of the 353 known planets outside the solar system, 227 were found by watching the movement of a star for signs of an orbiting planet's gravitational tug. This technique is known to sometimes miss sibling planets.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

International Space Station. Credit: NASA
Interplanetary internet gets permanent home in space
(Jul 7, 2009)


The interplanetary internet now has its first permanent node in space, aboard the International Space Station. The new software will make sending data from space less like using the telephone, and more like using the web. In the modern era of the web and information on demand, teams still have to schedule times to send and receive data from space missions.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

All-sky map showing the positions and names of 16 new pulsars (yellow) and eight millisecond pulsars (magenta) studied using Fermi's LAT. Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration
NASA's Fermi telescope probes dozens of pulsars
(Jul 6, 2009)


With NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, astronomers now are getting their best look at those whirling stellar cinders known as pulsars. In two studies published in the July 2 edition of Science Express, international teams have analyzed gamma-rays from two dozen pulsars, including 16 discovered by Fermi. Fermi is the first spacecraft able to identify pulsars by their gamma-ray emission alone.

Read more. Source: NASA

Artist conception of cosmic string in the early universe. Image: Adolf Schaller for STScI/NASA
Cosmic 'whips' may have left their mark
(Jul 5, 2009)


Space-time should have universe-sized snags called cosmic strings running across it, but none have yet been found. That could be because they broke into a tangle of smaller strings and beads soon after the big bang. The good news is that this would have created gravitational waves that could be detected on Earth.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Planck
Coolest spacecraft ever in orbit around L2
(Jul 4, 2009)


Last night, the detectors of Planck's High Frequency Instrument reached their amazingly low operational temperature of -273.05°C, making them the coldest known objects in space. The spacecraft has also just entered its final orbit around the second Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth system, L2.

Read more. Source: ESA

Trenches dug on the surface of Mars by the Phoenix Lander
NASA Phoenix results point to Martian climate cycles
(Jul 3, 2009)


Favorable chemistry and episodes with thin films of liquid water during ongoing, long-term climate cycles may sometimes make the area where NASA's Phoenix Mars mission landed last year a favorable environment for microbes. "Not only did we find water ice, as expected, but the soil chemistry and minerals we observed lead us to believe this site had a wetter and warmer climate in the last few million years and could again in the future," said Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

LRO image of cratered terrain near Mare Nubium
Moon probe returns first images
(Jul 3, 2009)


The US space agency's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft has returned its first images since reaching the Moon on 23 June. The probe's two cameras returned images of a region in the lunar highlands south of Mare Nubium (Sea of Clouds). LRO blasted off on 18 June atop an Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Read more. Source: BBC

TerreStar-1
Ariane lofts biggest 'space bird'
(Jul 2, 2009)


The world's biggest commercial telecommunications satellite has been put into orbit by an Ariane 5 rocket. The TerreStar-1 platform weighed just shy of seven tonnes at launch. Built for TerreStar Networks, the spacecraft will provide voice, messaging and data connections to the North American market.

Read more. Source: BBC

ESO 243-49
X-rays are smoking gun for middle-weight black holes
(Jul 1, 2009)


The black hole family has a middle child, if an otherwise unexplained source of fluctuating X-rays is anything to go by. Small black holes the size of stars and the supermassive variety are familiar, but until now there have only been tentative signs of intermediate-mass black holes.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Ulysses
Light goes out on solar mission
(Jul 1, 2009)


After more than 18 years studying the Sun, the plug has finally been pulled on the ailing spacecraft Ulysses. Final communication with the joint European-US satellite took place on 30 June. The long-serving craft, launched in October 1990, had already served four times its expected design life.

Read more. Source: BBC

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