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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: December 2010
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artist's impression of GJ 1214b
'Super-Earth' atmosphere measured
(Dec 2, 2010)

The atmosphere surrounding a "super-Earth" extrasolar planet has been measured for the first time. The planet, GJ 1214b, is three times larger than Earth and about seven times heavier, and is the first planet of its kind known to have an atmosphere. Researchers reporting in Nature have said it appears to have either a dense atmosphere of water steam, or is wrapped in thick clouds like Venus.

Read more. Source: BBC

The view from a planet in our galaxy (left). Planets in older galaxies (right) are bathed in a rosy glow from the many red stars in the night sky (artist's impression)
'Trillions' of Earths orbit red stars in older galaxies
(Dec 2, 2010)

Astronomers say the Universe may contain three times the number of stars as is currently thought. Their assessment is based on new observations showing other galaxies may have very different structures to our Milky Way galaxy. The researchers tell the journal Nature that more stars probably means many more planets as well – perhaps "trillions" of Earth-like worlds.

Read more. Source: BBC

Ball lightning
Ball lightning 'may explain UFOs'
(Dec 1, 2010)

Some UFO sightings could be explained by ball lightning and other atmospheric phenomena, claims Australian astrophysicist Stephen Hughes. The scientist has made a detailed study of an unusual event in 2006 when large meteors were observed over Brisbane. Their appearance occurred at the same time as a brilliant green object was seen to roll over nearby mountains.

Read more. Source: BBC

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