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Sun's 'quiet period' explained
(Aug 14, 2010)

Solar physicists may have discovered why the Sun recently experienced a prolonged period of weak activity. The most recent so-called "solar minimum" occurred in December 2008. Its drawn-out nature extended the total length of the last solar cycle – the repeating cycle of the Sun's activity – to 12.6 years, making it the longest in almost 200 years.

Read more. Source: BBC

Nova V407 Cygni images with the Fermi Space Telescope
Gamma rays from nova explosion surprise astronomers
(Aug 14, 2010)

A team of astronomers has found that novae – the relatively quiet death of certain kinds of stars – can emit the highest-energy rays known to nature. It was not previously thought that novae, which come about for different reasons than the brighter supernovae, could give rise to these gamma rays. Users of the Fermi space telescope have now confirmed these observations, which were first made by amateur astronomers.

Read more. Source: BBC

Astronomers have found unexpected rings and arcs of ultraviolet light around a selection of galaxies, four of which are shown here as viewed by the Hubble Space Telescope. Image credit: NASA/ESA /JPL-Caltech/STScI/UCLA
Giant ultraviolet rings found in resurrected galaxies
(Aug 14, 2010)

Astronomers have found mysterious, giant loops of ultraviolet light in aged, massive galaxies, which seem to have a second lease on life. Somehow these "over-the-hill galaxies" have been infused with fresh gas to form new stars that power these truly gargantuan rings, some of which could encircle several Milky Way galaxies.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Neptune 'dead zones' hold more rocks than asteroid belt
(Aug 13, 2010)

An asteroid that is trapped in a 'dead zone' behind Neptune has been found for the first time. The finding suggests that the blue planet's rock collection may outnumber objects in the main asteroid belt and may provide clues to the origin of comets.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Einstein@Home screenshot
Home computers discover rare star
(Aug 13, 2010)

By putting their home computers to work when they would otherwise be idle, three "citizen scientists" have discovered a rare astronomical object. The unusual find is called a "disrupted binary pulsar"; these pulsars can be created when a massive star collapses. The discoverers, from the US and Germany found the object with the help of the Einstein@Home project.

Read more. Source: BBC

Artist's impression of the early Earth
Arctic rocks may contain oldest remnants of Earth
(Aug 12, 2010)

Scientists have found Arctic rocks that may preserve the earliest remnants of Earth. Over billions of years, much of the material that made up the early Earth was modified by processes such as melting and mixing. But the Arctic rocks seem to contain chemical signatures that date from just after the Earth's violent origin.

Read more. Source: BBC

Tranquility module being attached to the ISS
NASA mulls sending part of space station to an asteroid
(Aug 11, 2010)

The International Space Station, the $100 billion outpost that has steadfastly orbited the Earth for more than a decade, may get a chance to explore new horizons when it retires in 2020. NASA is considering using part of it to build a spaceship that would be sent to an asteroid, while also mulling more exotic artificial-gravity designs reminiscent of Arthur C. Clarke.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

artist's reconstruction of the early Earth >
Recreate life to understand how life began
(Aug 10, 2010)

The exact nature of the first cell, the basic unit of all life today, is still unknown. It is an exciting puzzle that goes to the heart of the origins of life as we know it. But it is hard to solve: reconstructing such ancient events seems an impossible task. Fortunately, there's much to be learned from a more modest goal: building basic artificial cells in the lab.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Space station repairs 'only partial success'
(Aug 9, 2010)

Two astronauts have carried out an eight-hour spacewalk to try to repair a cooling system on the International Space Station but were only partially successful. Douglas Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson hammered away and finally removed the unit's hoses but could not replace the bulky item as scheduled. Two walks were always planned but Nasa says a third will now also be needed.

Read more. Source: BBC

The Antennae
NASA's Great Observatories witness a galactic spectacle
(Aug 7, 2010)

A new image of two tangled galaxies has been released by NASA's Great Observatories. The Antennae galaxies, located about 62 million light-years away, are shown in this composite image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue), the Hubble Space Telescope (gold and brown), and the Spitzer Space Telescope (red). The Antennae galaxies take their name from the long, antenna-like arms seen in wide-angle views of the system. These features were produced in the collision.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

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