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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: February 2010
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composite image of M31 shows X-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory in gold, optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey in light blue and infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope in red. The Chandra data covers only the central region of M31 as shown in the inset box for the image
Chandra reveals origin of key cosmic explosions
(Feb 18, 2010)

The Chandra X-ray Observatory image of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), in the upper righthand corner of this composite picture, would be about 40 times brighter than observed if Type Ia supernova in the bulge of this galaxy were triggered by material from a normal star falling onto a white dwarf. This implies that the merger of two white dwarfs is the main trigger for Type Ia supernovas for the area observed by Chandra. Similar results for five elliptical galaxies were found.

Read more. Source: NASA/Harvard/Chandra

Vesta photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2007
Get set for a possible glimpse of an asteroid
(Feb 17, 2010)

The most prominent asteroid in the sky is currently yours for the perusing with binoculars – and perhaps even the naked eye. Tomorrow night, Wednesday, Feb. 17, Vesta, the second most massive object in the asteroid belt, reaches what astronomers like to call "opposition."

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

The cupola in Tranquility Node. Image source: NASA
ISS crew in third spacewalk to fit new Tranquility Node
(Feb 17, 2010)

Astronauts are making their third and final spacewalk of the current shuttle mission to the International Space Station. American Robert Behnken and UK-born Nicholas Patrick are on a 6.5-hour outing to put the finishing touches on the recently-fitted Tranquility Node. Among other tasks, they will prepare the module's new observation deck, or "cupola", for its first opening. Tranquility represents the last major component in the building of the ISS.

Read more. Source: BBC

quark-gluon plasma simulation. Image source: Brookhaven National Laboratory
Hot and heavy matter runs a 4 trillion degree fever
(Feb 17, 2010)

Researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory have taken the temperature of a minuscule glob of dense, hot matter formed in the aftermath of collisions between gold atoms traveling near the speed of light. The material reaches an estimated 4 trillion degrees Celsius, about 250,000 times hotter than the Sun's interior, and higher than any temperature ever reached in a laboratory.

Read more. Source: Science News

Close-up of Mimas showing the steep sides of the crater. Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Cassini shoots new close-ups of Death Star-like moon
(Feb 17, 2010)

Blazing through its closest pass of the Saturnian moon Mimas on Feb. 13, Cassini sent back striking close-ups of the moon likened to the Death Star from "Star Wars" and the enormous crater scarring its surface. The flyby also yielded solid data on the moon's thermal signature and surface composition.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Color composite image of Centaurus A, revealing the lobes and jets emanating from the active galaxy’s central black hole. Composite images: ESO/WFI (Optical); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (Submillimetre); NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray)
Unraveling black hole spin
(Feb 16, 2010)

Spin is crucial to understanding the dynamics of a supermassive black hole's host galaxy because it may actually create the jets that regulatesthe growth of that galaxy. So concludes Dan Evans, a researcher at MIT, whose paper on the subject was published in the Feb. 10 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

Read more. Source: MIT

Murchison meteorite
Space rock contains organic molecular feast
(Feb 15, 2010)

Scientists say they have confirmed that a meteorite that crashed into earth 40 years ago contains millions of different organic compounds. It is thought the Murchison meteorite could be even older than the Sun. "Having this information means you can tell what was happening during the birth of the Solar System," said lead researcher Dr Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin.

Read more. Source: BBC

Installation of Node 3
International Space Station gets new observation deck
(Feb 15, 2010)

Astronauts have successfully installed an extension to the International Space Station in a series of spacewalks. The so-called Tranquility Node includes a number of docking locations and will provide a breathtaking, 360-degree view of Earth through its "cupola." The node was initially installed on Friday, with electrical connections and commissioning occurring in a series of spacewalks over the weekend.

Read more. Source: BBC

Voyager 1 parting shots of the planets Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and Earth
Voyager celebrates 20-year-old valentine to Solar System
(Feb 14, 2010)

Twenty years ago on February 14, Voyager 1 had sailed beyond the outermost planet in our solar system and turned its camera inward to snap a series of final images that would be its parting valentine to the string of planets it called home. Mercury was too close to the Sun to see, Mars showed only a thin crescent of sunlight, and Pluto was too dim, but Voyager was able to capture cameos of Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Earth and Venus from its unique vantage point.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

galaxy cluster
Ancient galaxies packed more raw material for stellar formation
(Feb 13, 2010)

A new study shows that galaxies present just a few billion years after the big bang had much more star-forming material, in the form of molecular gas, to draw on. The finding, published in the February 11 issue of Nature, confirms the commonly held supposition that the vigorous star formation in the young universe largely stems from an early bounty of raw materials, rather than a more efficient process of star production.

Read more. Source: Scientific American

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