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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: April 2011
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Falcon 9-Heavy. Image credit: SpaceX
Private company to launch biggest rocket since Saturn 5
(Apr 6, 2011)


California company SpaceX is preparing to the launch the most powerful rocket since the heady days of the Apollo Moon missions. Its 70m-tall Falcon 9-Heavy, scheduled for its first lift-off in 2013, will be able to place payloads of up to 53 tonnes into low Earth orbit – more than double the capacity of the Space Shuttle.

Read more. Source: BBC

This image layout shows two views of the same baby star -- at left is a visible-light image, and at right is an infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA's Spitzer discovers time-delayed jets
(Apr 5, 2011)


Astronomers have discovered that two symmetrical jets shooting away from opposite sides of a blossoming star are experiencing a time delay: knots of gas and dust from one jet blast off four-and-a-half years later than identical knots from the other jet. The finding, made using the Spitzer Space Telescope, is helping astronomers understand how jets are produced around forming stars, including those resembling our sun when it was young.

Read more. Source: NASA/Spitzer

Sudbury Neutrino Observatory. Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt / Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
The amazing disappearing antineutrino
(Apr 5, 2011)


New theoretical work suggests that researchers have systematically underestimated the number of the antineutrinos (the antiparticle of the neutrino produced by experiments involving nuclear reactor. The discrepancy could be caused by the antineutrinos turning into so-called sterile antineutrinos, which can't be directly detected, and which would be clear evidence for effects beyond the standard model of particle physics.

Read more. Source: Nature

artwork of a white dwarf system
White dwarfs could be fertile ground for other Earths
(Apr 4, 2011)


Planet hunters have found hundreds of planets outside the solar system, though it's unclear whether any are habitable. It could be that the best place to look for planets that can support life is around dim, dying stars called white dwarfs. In a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Eric Agol, at the University of Washington, suggests that potentially habitable planets orbiting white dwarfs could be much easier to find than other exoplanets located so far.

Read more. Source: University of Washington

Rho Ophiuchi region
The art of making stars
(Apr 3, 2011)


It might look like an abstract painting, but this splash of colors is in fact a busy star-forming complex called Rho Ophiuchi. NASA's Wide-field Infrared Explorer, or WISE, captured the picturesque image of the region, which is one of the closest star-forming complexes to Earth. The amazing variety of colors seen in this image represents different wavelengths of infrared light.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Artist concept of the Square Kilometre Array
Jodrell Bank to headquarter world's biggest telescope
(Apr 2, 2011)


Plans for the world’s biggest telescope – the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) – took a big step forward with the decision today to locate the project office at The University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire. The £1.3bn SKA will be an array of radio antennas with a collection area of a square kilometre with its core in South Africa or Australia.

Read more. Source: BBC

Saturn ring ripples
Ripples in ring systems linked to comets
(Apr 1, 2011)


Scientists working with data from NASA's Cassini, Galileo and New Horizons missions have traced telltale ripples in the rings of Saturn and Jupiter back to collisions with cometary fragments dating back more than 10 years ago. The ripple-producing culprit, in the case of Jupiter, was comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, whose debris cloud hurtled through the thin Jupiter ring system during a kamikaze course into the planet in July 1994.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

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