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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: September 2011
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Artist's impression of a galaxy accreting mass from rapid, narrow streams of cold gas. Credit: ESA–AOES Medialab
Herschel paints new story of galaxy evolution
(Sep 14, 2011)

ESA's Herschel Space Observatory has discovered that galaxies don't need to collide with each other to drive vigorous star birth. The finding overturns this long-held assumption and paints a more stately picture of how galaxies evolve. The conclusion is based on Herschel's observations of two patches of sky, each about a third of the size of the full Moon.

Read more. Source: ESA

Artist's impression of an Earthlike planet and its central star
Second "Goldilocks" world among new exoplanet haul
(Sep 13, 2011)

Among the 50 new exoplanets announced yesterday, is one which moves in the habitable zone of its central star. HD85512b is a so-called super-Earth, about 3.6 times as massive as the Earth, whose orbit is such that its estimated surface temperature ranges between about 30° and 50°C, and its atmosphere is probably very humid.

Read more. Source: The Guardian

Earthlike exoplanet
Fifty new exoplanets discovered
(Sep 12, 2011)

Astronomers using ESO's HARPS telescope have announced a rich haul of more than 50 new exoplanets, including 16 super-Earths, one of which orbits at the edge of the habitable zone of its star. By studying the properties of all the HARPS planets found so far, the team has found that about 40% of stars similar to the Sun have at least one planet lighter than Saturn.

Read more. Source: European Southern Observatory

Duck! A 6-ton satellite is coming home
(Sep 12, 2011)

NASA announced on Friday that a satellite it sent into orbit in 1991 is coming back down by the end of this month, all 6 tons of it. No one can say in advance exactly where the remains of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) will hit, but history and intensive calculations show that the risk to humans is extremely low.

Read more. Source: Science Now

GRAIL launch
GRAIL Moon mission launches successfully
(Sep 10, 2011)

Cape Canaveral's final planned Delta 2 rocket lifted off at 9:08 a.m. EDT (1308 GMT), a little late due to upper level winds. The rocket will propel NASA's twin GRAIL lunar gravity mapping spacecraft on their trek to the Moon.

Read more. Source: BBC

native gold
Gold brought to Earth by meteorites
(Sep 9, 2011)

Scientists have shown that the Earth's surface became enriched with precious metals by impacting meteorites. The Earth's crust and mantle has considerably more gold than expected from favored models of planetary formation. A study from the University of Bristol looked at some of the oldest rocks on Earth, demonstrating that gold was delivered by meteorites long after their formation.

Read more. Source: BBC

SN 2011fe location
See a star across intergalactic space with your eyes alone. Limited time only!
(Sep 8, 2011)

Under good seeing conditions it should be possible to see the supernova event that is presently unfolding in the spiral galaxy, M101 (the Pinwheel Galaxy), 21 million light-years away. Supernova SN 2011fe, initially known as PTF 11kly, is the nearest Type Ia supernova to have occurred in decades. Telescopic observers can find it at these coordinates: R.A. 4h 03m 05.8s, Dec. +5° 16' 25". Those using binoculars or their unaided eyes should draw an imaginary line through the second and third stars in the handle of the Big Dipper (Plough) and follow that line up and left. Go to M101 page for a easy-to-use map.

Read more. Source: BBC

Cresst experiment
Dark matter hinted at again at Cresst experiment
(Sep 7, 2011)

Scientists may have seen more hints of the dark matter purported to make up a majority of the mass in the Universe. Researchers at the Cresst experiment in Italy say they have spotted 67 events in their detectors that may be caused by dark matter particles called WIMPS. The finds must be reconciled with other experiments that have recently hinted at the detection of WIMPS.

Read more. Source: BBC

Twinkling, twinkling Sun-like stars hamper search for other Earths
(Sep 7, 2011)

The Kepler spacecraft has hit an unexpected obstacle as it patiently watches the heavens for exoplanets: too many rowdy young stars. The orbiting probe detects small dips in the brightness of a star that occur when a planet crosses its face. But an analysis of some 2,500 of the tens of thousands of Sun-like stars detected in Kepler's field of view has found that the stars themselves flicker more than predicted, with the largest number varying twice as much as the Sun. That makes it harder to detect Earth-sized bodies.

Read more. Source: Nature

Challenger descent stage
NASA spacecraft images offer sharper views of Apollo landing sites
(Sep 6, 2011)

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) captured the sharpest images ever taken from space of the Apollo 12, 14 and 17 landing sites. Images show the twists and turns of the paths made when the astronauts explored the lunar surface. At the Apollo 17 site, the tracks laid down by the lunar rover are clearly visible, along with the last foot trails left on the Moon.

Read more. Source: NASA/LRO

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