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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: May 2010
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The red circle indicates where a black hole may be
Black hole 'hurled out of galaxy'
(May 12, 2010)


A supermassive black hole may have been observed in the process of being hurled from its parent galaxy at high speed. The finding comes from analysis of data collected by the Chandra X-ray observatory. However, there are alternative explanations for the observation.

Read more. Source: BBC

A dark band in Jupiter's southern hemisphere is not visible in this 8 May snapshot. Image: Anthony Wesley
Jupiter loses a stripe
(May 12, 2010)


Jupiter has lost one of its prominent stripes, leaving its southern half looking unusually blank. Scientists are not sure what triggered the disappearance of the band. Jupiter's appearance is usually dominated by two dark bands in its atmosphere, one in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern. But recent images taken by amateur astronomers show that the southern band – called the south equatorial belt – has disappeared.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Sample of Newton's apple tree
Newton's apple tree sample to go into space
(May 11, 2010)


A piece of Sir Isaac Newton's apple tree will "defy" gravity, the theory it inspired, when it is carried into space on the next NASA shuttle mission. The wood sample is from the original tree from which an apple fell, leading Newton to devise his theory of gravity. The sample, which is normally held in the Royal Society's archives, has been lent to British-born astronaut Dr Piers Sellers, who will take it into orbit.

Read more. Source: BBC

Halley's Comet. Image: Royal Observatory, Edinburgh/AAO/SPL
Is Halley's comet an alien interloper?
(May 10, 2010)


Our sun may have stolen the vast majority of its comets from other stars. The theft could explain the puzzling profusion of objects in a huge reservoir surrounding the sun called the Oort cloud.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Voyager
Engineers diagnosing Voyager 2 data system
(May 10, 2010)


Engineers have shifted NASA's Voyager 2 into a mode that transmits only spacecraft health and status data while they diagnose an unexpected change in the pattern of returning data. Preliminary engineering data received on May 1 show the spacecraft is basically healthy, and that the source of the issue is the flight data system, which is responsible for formatting the data to send back to Earth.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Dwarf galaxy DDO 63. Image: NRAO/AUI/NSF/SPL
Cosmic rays help make small galaxies invisible
(May 8, 2010)


Cosmic rays can help sterilize small galaxies, preventing them from forming new stars, new simulations suggest. The effect could help explain why we see fewer dwarf galaxies than expected in orbit around the Milky Way.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Quasar alignment. Image: NRAO/AUI/NSF/SPL
Baffling quasar alignment hints at cosmic strings
(May 7, 2010)


Something has made neighboring quasars in the distant universe point in a similar direction when their orientations ought to be random. Could this be the signature of cosmic strings – gigantic kinks in the fabric of space-time?

Read more. Source: New Scientist

A researcher collects a snow sample near the Concordia Research Station in Antarctica. Image: J. Duprat/CSNSM-CNRS
Cosmic 'dandruff' may have brought carbon to Earth
(May 7, 2010)


Fluffy specks of carbon-rich dust found in Antarctic snow seem to be relics from the dawn of the solar system, when the planets were still forming. The cosmic dandruff could help explain how the carbon needed for life wound up on Earth. Researchers led by Jean Duprat of the University of Paris-South in Orsay, France, melted Antarctic snow and filtered particles from the resulting water, turning up two extraterrestrial dust particles.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

X-51
Scramjet with stamina ready for hypersonic test
(May 6, 2010)


In the last week of May, thousands of square miles of airspace above the Pacific Ocean will be cleared to make way for a skinny, shark-nosed aircraft called the X-51. The 4-meter-long prototype will drop from beneath the wing of a bomber and attempt to become the first scramjet to punch through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds for minutes, not seconds.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

RCW 120
Herschel Space Telescope pierces giant star bubble
(May 6, 2010)


A colossal star many times the mass of our own Sun is seen growing in a bubble of gas and dust just pictured by the Herschel Space Observatory. The image of the bubble, known as RCW 120, has been released a few days ahead of the European telescope's first birthday in orbit on 14 May. Herschel's infrared detectors are tuned to see the cold materials that give birth to stars.

Read more. Source: BBC

New infrared images of the globular cluster 47 Tucanae (this one recorded at a wavelength of 1.6 micrometers), reveal that both the cluster and the Milky Way's central bulge are 11 billion to 12 billion years old and may have formed simultaneously with the Milky Way's halo
New Hubble pictures suggest Milky Way fell together
(May 6, 2010)


A preliminary analysis of elderly stars in the Milky Way appears to strike a blow against the prevailing theory of galaxy formation. The study suggests that several large and seemingly disparate chunks of the Milky Way galaxy formed at the same time from the collapse of a single blob of gas and dust.

Read more. Source: Science News

XENON100 detector
Early results from large dark matter detector cast doubt on earlier claims
(May 6, 2010)


An experiment looking for the signal of dark matter deep in an underground lab in Italy turned up no candidate signals in 11 days of early operation, the experimental collaboration reported in a paper posted online Monday. The underground detector, called XENON100, only recently began taking data but is already challenging prior claims and hints of dark matter signals.

Read more. Source: Scientific American

BELLE experiment at the KEK particle accelerator in Japan. Image: KEK
Elusive tetraquark spotted in a data forest
(May 5, 2010)


The keepers at Particle Zoo should ready a new enclosure. Particle hunters are claiming a sighting of a beast of legend – the tetraquark. A jumbo particle made up of four quarks, it is a hitherto undiscovered form of matter. Tetraquarks were first posited to exist over 30 years ago, as solutions to the equations of quantum chromodynamics.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

aurora
African rocks record ancient magnetic field
(May 4, 2010)


Scientists have managed to push back the date for the earliest known presence of a magnetic field on Earth by about 250 million years. The evidence is seen in tiny iron minerals that are aligned inside ancient dalcite rocks from the Barberton mountains in South Africa. Analysis of the 3.45-billion-year-old minerals indicates the strength the field was much weaker than today.

Read more. Source: BBC

X-ray image of the inner region of the galaxy M82
"Survivor" black holes may be mid-sized
(May 4, 2010)


This X-ray image of the inner region of the active galaxy M82, taken by the Chandra X-ray Observatory, contains evidence for two intermediate-mass black holes. One of the black holes, called X42.3+59, lies about 290 light-years from the center of M82 and has an estimated mass 12,000–43,000 times that of the Sun. The other, called X41.4+60, is about 600 light-years from the center and has a mass between 200 and 800 times that of the Sun.

Read more. Source: NASA/Chandra

This image shows an outcrop of rocks at the foot of the rover and beyond these rocks rippled dunes, which are about 20 cm (8 in) tall. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University
Mars rover sees distant crater rims on horizon
(May 2, 2010)


NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has captured a new view of the rim of Endeavour crater, the rover's destination in a multi-year traverse along the sandy Martian landscape. A portion of the rim about 13 km (8 miles) away appears on the horizon at the left edge of the image, along with the rim of an even more distant crater, Iazu, on the right.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

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