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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: June 2010
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Kuiper Belt object
Kuiper Belt world measured in star pass
(Jun 17, 2010)


Astronomers say they have observed, for the first time, a distant icy world orbiting beyond Neptune (a Kuiper Belt object) as it passed briefly in front of a bright star. This stellar occultation occurs when a planetary body hides a star as it moves across the sky. A US-led team of 18 astronomy groups used the occasion to study KBO 55636 from the Kuiper Belt on the outskirts of the Solar System.

Read more. Source: BBC

Kepler
NASA releases Kepler data on potential extrasolar planets
(Jun 16, 2010)


NASA's Kepler Mission has released 43 days of science data on more than 156,000 stars. These stars are being monitored for subtle brightness changes as part of an ongoing search for Earth-like planets outside of our solar system. Astronomers will use the new data to determine if orbiting planets are responsible for brightness variations in several hundred stars.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

DZero experiment at Fermilab
US experiment hints at 'multiple God particles'
(Jun 15, 2010)


There may be multiple versions of the elusive "God particle" – or Higgs boson – according to a new study. Finding the Higgs is the primary aim of the 6bn ($10bn) Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment near Geneva. But recent results from the LHC's US rival suggest physicists could be hunting five particles, not one.

Read more. Source: BBC

Moon
'Much more water' found in lunar rocks
(Jun 15, 2010)


The Moon might be much wetter than previously thought, a group of scientists has said. A US-led team analysed the mineral apatite in lunar rocks picked up by the Apollo space missions and in a lunar meteorite found in North Africa. The scientists found that there was at least 100 times more water in the Moon's minerals than they had previously believed.

Read more. Source: BBC

Sun
What's wrong with the sun?
(Jun 14, 2010)


Sunspots come and go, but recently they have mostly gone. Their absence, the most prolonged for nearly a hundred years, has taken even seasoned sun watchers by surprise. "This is solar behavior we haven't seen in living memory," says David Hathaway, a physicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Artist's impression of a major asteroid collision with the Earth
The end of the world as we know it
(Jun 14, 2010)


Apocalyptic thought has a tradition that dates to the Persian prophet Zoroaster in the 14th century BC. Recently, anxiety has grown over the prediction of the end of the world in the Mayan calendar. It's true that the Mayan odometer will hit zeros on 21 December 2012, as it reaches the end of a 394-year cycle called a baktun. But this baktun is part of a larger 8,000-year cycle called a pictun, and there's no evidence that anything astronomically untoward will happen as the current baktun slides into the next. What kind of catastrophe would it take to end the world?

Read more. Source: The Independent

Moons of Saturn
Mystery of Saturn's midget moons cracked
(Jun 14, 2010)


For decades, researchers have puzzled over the origin of Saturn's baby moons. According to conventional models, these moons are so small that collisions with comets should have blown them to pieces long ago. Now a group of researchers in France and Britain think they have the answer – and it lies in the planet's icy rings.

Read more. Source: Nature

Artwork of Hayabusa capsule entering Earth's atmosphere
Japanese Hayabusa asteroid mission comes home
(Jun 13, 2010)


A capsule thought to contain the first samples grabbed from the surface of an asteroid has returned to Earth. The Japanese Hayabusa container hit the top of the atmosphere just after 1350 GMT, producing a bright fireball over southern Australia. It had a shield to cope with the heat of re-entry and a parachute for the final drop to the ground.

Read more. Source: BBC

comet Hale-Bopp
Most comets may have extrasolar origin
(Jun 12, 2010)


Many famous comets may have formed in other Solar Systems, a new theory proposes. Astronomers now believe that when our Sun was still a young star, it may have gravitationally captured the "dusty" Oort cloud comets formed elsewhere in the galaxy. This contradicts the earlier theory that most comets were born in the Sun's protoplanetary disk.

Read more. Source: BBC

Beta Pictoris
Exoplanet spotted in motion around its "sun"
(Jun 11, 2010)


Astronomers say they have followed, for the first time, an extrasolar planet in orbit around a young white star. The team used the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile to track the motion of a gas giant Beta Pictoris b. The planet's "sun" is also believed to be the youngest star to host a planet.

Read more. Source: BBC

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