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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: September 2009
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Light from a distant spiral galaxy has been magnified and stretched into a long arc by the gravity of an intervening galaxy cluster, Abell 370. Image: NASA/ESA/Hubble SM4 ERO Team/ST-ECF
Upgraded Hubble telescope spies cosmic 'dragon'
(Sep 10, 2009)

The new and improved Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a dragon-shaped cosmic mirage and other celestial wonders, showing it is working better than ever following its latest repairs in May. One of the pictures shows a galaxy stretched into a dragon shape in a cosmic illusion. It is a normal spiral galaxy, but its light rays get bent on their way to Earth due to the gravitational lensing effect of an intervening galaxy cluster.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

NGC 4696
Black holes are the ultimate particle smashers
(Sep 9, 2009)

What will happen to fundamental physics when our descendants reach the limit of particle accelerator technology? One saviour may be the universe's own particle smashers – black holes. If two particles are accelerating towards a rotating black hole with a certain velocity then they should collide with energies higher than anything we could hope to achieve on Earth.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Orion module in lunar orbit
Underfunding shackles NASA vision
(Sep 9, 2009)

NASA needs its annual $18bn budget boosted by $3bn if astronauts are to conduct meaningful missions like trips to the Moon and beyond, a panel warns. The panel, convened by the White House to review human spaceflight plans, has delivered its summary findings. It says the spaceship and rocket programs being developed to replace the shuttle are not presently viable.

Read more. Source: BBC

Temple of Karnak at Luxor
Egyptian temples followed heavenly plans
(Sep 8, 2009)

Ancient Egyptian temples were aligned so precisely with astronomical events that people could set their political, economic and religious calendars by them. So finds a study of 650 temples, some dating back to 3000 BC. For example, New Year coincided with the moment that the winter-solstice sun hit the central sanctuary of the Karnak temple (pictured) in present-day Luxor.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

aurora in Alasaka. Source: Joshua Strang, United States Air Force / Wikimedia Commons
Earth-sized planets are just right for life
(Sep 7, 2009)

The discovery of extrasolar super-Earths – rocky planets about five to ten times the mass of Earth – has raised hopes that some may harbor life. Perhaps it's a vain hope though, since it now seems that Earth is just the right size to sustain life. Life is comfortable on Earth in part because of its relatively stable climate and its magnetic field, which deflects cosmic radiation capable of damaging organic molecules as well as producing amazing auroras.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

spacewalk, Sep. 1, 2009
Astronauts make final spacewalk
(Sep 6, 2009)

Astronauts from the US space shuttle Discovery have made their third and final spacewalk, installing equipment on the International Space Station. However, NASA officials said one job had to be left undone after cables failed to connect. NASA flight director Heather Rarick said repairs to the connector would be attempted on a future mission, possibly Atlantis's flight in November.

Read more. Source: BBC

artist's impression of HD 49798
XMM-Newton uncovers a celestial Rosetta stone
(Sep 5, 2009)

ESA's XMM-Newton orbiting X-ray telescope has uncovered a celestial Rosetta stone: the first close-up of a white dwarf star, circling a companion star, that could explode into a particular kind of supernova in a few million years. Astronomers have been on the trail of this mysterious object since 1997 when they discovered that something was giving off X-rays near the bright star HD 49798.

Read more. Source: ESA

single magnetic pole
'Overwhelming' evidence for monopoles
(Sep 4, 2009)

For decades scientists have been on the hunt for a single magnetic pole, or monopole. "People have been looking for monopoles in cosmic rays and particle accelerators – even Moon rocks," says Jonathan Morris, a researcher at the Helmholtz Centre for Materials and Energy in Berlin. Now Morris and others have found the strongest evidence yet for magnetic monopoles, in small crystals about the size of an ear plug.

Read more. Source: Nature

Andromeda Galaxy
Galaxy's 'cannibalism' revealed
(Sep 3, 2009)

The vast Andromeda Galaxy appears to have expanded by digesting stars from other galaxies, research has shown. When an international team of scientists mapped Andromeda, they discovered stars that they said were "remnants of dwarf galaxies". The astronomers report their findings in the journal Nature.

Read more. Source: BBC

Orion capsule
Spaceship passes critical review
(Sep 2, 2009)

The spacecraft NASA is developing to replace the shuttle has passed a critical milestone. The Orion capsule, which is intended to carry at least four astronauts into Earth orbit and beyond, has completed its preliminary design review, or PDR. The review is an essential engineering assessment that certifies the concept is fit for purpose.

Read more. Source: BBC

gravity tractor
British plan to tackle asteroids
(Sep 1, 2009)

A team of British scientists are developing plans for a spacecraft that could stop large asteroids from destroying the Earth. The 10 tonne "gravity tractor" would deflect any orbiting rocks years before any potential collision could happen. The device, which would rely on the force of gravity, is being developed by Stevenage space company, EADS Astrium.

Read more. Source: BBC

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