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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: June 2009
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Herschel Space Observatory
Herschel telescope 'opens eyes'
(Jun 15, 2009)


Europe's new billion-euro Herschel Space Observatory, launched in May, has achieved a critical milestone. The telescope has opened the hatch that has been protecting its sensitive instruments from contamination. The procedure allowed light collected by Herschel's giant 3.5m mirror to flood its supercold instrument chamber, or cryostat, for the first time.

Read more. Source: BBC

Shuttle Endeavour
NASA cancels space shuttle launch
(Jun 13, 2009)


The launch of space shuttle Endeavour has been canceled due to a hydrogen leak, NASA officials have announced. Endeavour was due to take off from Cape Canaveral with seven astronauts at 0717 local time (1117 GMT), but was canceled several hours beforehand. The problem was discovered during fuelling, before the astronauts had donned their spacesuits.

Read more. Source: BBC

Spitzer image of stars in the core of our galaxy
Baby stars finally found in jumbled Galactic Center
(Jun 12, 2009)


Astronomers have at last uncovered newborn stars at the frenzied center of our Milky Way Galaxy. The discovery was made using the infrared vision of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The team responsible plans to look for additional baby stars in the future, and ultimately to piece together what types of conditions allow stars to form in such an inhospitable environment as our galaxy's core.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL/Spitzer

Kaguya
Japanese probe crashes into Moon
(Jun 12, 2009)


Japan's Kaguya probe has ended its mission at the Moon by crashing into the lunar surface. The spacecraft, which has been studying Earth's satellite for the past 19 months, was commanded to make the impact at 1825 GMT on Thursday. Japan's space agency (JAXA) hopes Earth telescopes will have been able to see a flash or dust plume from the crash.

Read more. Source: BBC

Hypothetical collision between Earth and Venus
Solar system's planets could spin out of control
(Jun 11, 2009)


The solar system's clockwork motion is by no means guaranteed: one day the Earth could collide with Venus or tear Mars apart in a close encounter, a new simulation has shown. Mercury is the key to catastrophe.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

M87
First extragalactic exoplanet may have been found
(Jun 11, 2009)


We could find planets in other galaxies using today's technology, according to a new simulation. The study gives credence to a tentative detection of a planet in the Andromeda Galaxy, our nearest large galactic neighbor. The idea is to use gravitational microlensing, in which a distant source star is briefly magnified by the gravity of an object passing in front of it.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

element 112
Periodic table gets a new element
(Jun 11, 2009)


The ubiquitous periodic table will soon have a new addition – the "super-heavy" element 112. More than a decade after experiments first produced a single atom of the element, a team of German scientists has been credited with its discovery. The team, led by Sigurd Hofmann at the Centre for Heavy Ion Research, must propose a name for their find, before it can be formally added to the table.

Read more. Source: BBC

M87
Giant black holes just got bigger
(Jun 10, 2009)


Some of the biggest black holes in the nearby Universe may be much larger than previously thought. A reassessment of the monster hole at the core of the M87 galaxy suggests it could have 6.4 billion times the mass of our own Sun. This result is two to three times the estimates from earlier studies.

Read more. Source: BBC

Betelgeuse_small
Betelgeuse: The incredible shrinking star?
(Jun 10, 2009)


The bright red star Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion seems to be shrinking. Betelgeuse is a supergiant: put at the center of the solar system, it would extend out to the orbit of Jupiter. But the star's reach seems to be waning. New observations indicate the giant star has shrunk by more than 15 per cent since 1993.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Artwork of a gamma-ray burst in a dusty region. Image: NASA/Swift/Aurore Simonnet
Astronomers solve mystery of 'dark' cosmic bursts
(Jun 9, 2009)


The mystery of dark gamma-ray bursts, intense cosmic flashes that are not seen in visible light, may now be solved. Previously, they were suspected of originating too far away to be seen at optical wavelengths, but a new analysis suggests that most simply detonate in cocoons of dust that block out their light.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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