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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: January 2012
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The North Star might be shrinking before our eyes Jan 31, 2012
Antimatter atoms to address anti-gravity question Jan 29, 2012
Picture yourself on a sandboard on Titan Jan 29, 2012
Kepler finds 11 new planetary systems Jan 27, 2012
'Starbursts' and black holes lead to biggest galaxies Jan 25, 2012
Largest solar storm since 2005 to hit Earth Tuesday Jan 24, 2012
Voyager instrument cooling after heater turned off Jan 22, 2012
NEOShield to assess Earth defense Jan 21, 2012
Black holes may turboboost super-civilizations Jan 20, 2012
Herschel telescope revisits cosmic classic Jan 18, 2012
Alien hunters: What if ET ever phones our home? Jan 16, 2012
Russian space probe heading down Jan 14, 2012
Super-cool Planck mission begins to warm Jan 13, 2012
Bubble-blowing stars seen in the thousands by public Jan 13, 2012
Smallest exoplanet is the size of Mars Jan 13, 2012
Exoplanets are around every star, study suggests Jan 12, 2012
Three tiny exoplanets suggest Solar System not so special Jan 12, 2012
'El Gordo' is largest distant galaxy cluster ever seen Jan 11, 2012
Dark matter images reveal widest view of dark mystery Jan 10, 2012
Tough times for alien hunters Jan 9, 2012
First four exoplanets of 2012 discovered Jan 7, 2012
Hundreds of tiny moons may be orbiting Earth Jan 6, 2012
X-37B spaceplane 'spying on China' Jan 5, 2012
Keplerís surprise: The sounds of the stars Jan 4, 2012
Impossible crystals are 'from space' Jan 3, 2012
First GRAIL spacecraft enters lunar orbit Jan 1, 2012

The North Star might be shrinking before our eyes
(Jan 31, 2012)

Sailors have navigated by the light of Polaris for centuries, but all is not well with the North Star. There's something wrong with its light, and the best explanation might be that it's losing the equivalent of Earth's mass every year. That's the argument put forward by astrophysicist Hilding Neilson and his team at the University of Bonn.

Read more. io9

particle trails
Antimatter atoms to address anti-gravity question
(Jan 29, 2012)

The question of whether normal matter's shadowy counterpart antimatter exerts a kind of "anti-gravity" is set to be answered, according to a new report. Normal matter attracts all other matter in the Universe, but it remains unclear if antimatter attracts or repels it. A team reporting in Physics Review Letters says it has prepared stable pairs of electrons and their anti-matter particles, positrons.

Read more. BBC

Picture yourself on a sandboard on Titan
(Jan 29, 2012)

Standing atop a huge mound of black, hydrocarbon sand, your sandboard tucked under your arm, you take in the view. Row after row of black dunes march into the distance as far as the eye can see, until everything disappears behind an orange curtain of smog. Sandboarding on Titan still, sadly, only happens in our imagination, but the moon's amazing dunes are real.

Read more. New Scientist

Overhead view of the orbital position of the planets in systems with multiple transiting planets discovered by NASA's Kepler mission. All the colored planets have been verified. More vivid colors indicate planets that have been confirmed by their gravitational interactions with each other or the star. Several of these systems contain additional planet candidates (shown in grey) that have not yet been verified. Image credit: NASA Ames/UC Santa Cruz
Kepler finds 11 new planetary systems
(Jan 27, 2012)

NASA's Kepler mission has discovered 11 new planetary systems hosting 26 confirmed planets. These discoveries nearly double the number of verified Kepler planets and triple the number of stars known to have more than one planet that transits, or passes in front of, the star. The planets orbit close to their host stars and range in size from 1.5 times the radius of Earth to larger than Jupiter.

Read more. NASA/JPL

starburst galaxies in the universe
'Starbursts' and black holes lead to biggest galaxies
(Jan 25, 2012)

Frenetic star-forming activity in the early Universe is linked to the most massive galaxies in today's cosmos, new research suggests. This "starbursting" activity when the Universe was just a few billion years old appears to have been clamped off by the growth of supermassive black holes. An international team gathered hints of the mysterious "dark matter" in early galaxies to confirm the link.

Read more. BBC

solar flares
Largest solar storm since 2005 to hit Earth Tuesday
(Jan 24, 2012)

The night before last the Sun unleashed a solar flare, along with a generous belch of ionized matter that is now racing toward Earth at thousands of kilometres a second. The solar storm front from the ionized blast, called a coronal mass ejection, should arrive this morning, according to the NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center. The forecasters called the event the strongest solar storm since 2005.

Read more. Scientific American

Voyager instrument cooling after heater turned off
(Jan 22, 2012)

In order to reduce power consumption, mission managers have turned off a heater on part of NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft, dropping the temperature of its ultraviolet spectrometer instrument more than 23°C. It is now operating at a temperature below minus 79°C, the coldest temperature that the instrument has ever endured. This heater shut-off is a step in the careful management of the diminishing electrical power so that the Voyager spacecraft can continue to collect and transmit data through 2025.

Read more. NASA/JPL

asteroid approaching the Earth
NEOShield to assess Earth defense
(Jan 21, 2012)

NEOShield is a new international project that will assess the threat posed by near-Earth objects (NEOs) and look at the best possible solutions for dealing with a big asteroid or comet on a collision path with our planet. The effort is being led from the German space agency's (DLR) Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin, and had its kick-off meeting this week. It will draw on expertise from across Europe, Russia and the US.

Read more. BBC

Black hole simulation
Black holes may turboboost super-civilizations
(Jan 20, 2012)

Super-smart extraterrestrials have far more than the total stellar energy output of the entire Milky Way at their fingertips. They could tap into the mother of all storage batteries: the supermassive black hole in the core of our galaxy. This gravitational engine is vastly more efficient at converting matter to energy than stellar nuclear fusion.

Read more.

Eagle Nebula
Herschel telescope revisits cosmic classic
(Jan 18, 2012)

Europe's Herschel space telescope has produced a majestic new version of a classic astronomical target – the Eagle Nebula (also called M16). This dense region of gas and dust some 6,500 light-years from Earth hosts copious numbers of bright new stars. Radiation from these objects is sculpting the clouds of gas and dust, producing in places great columns and curtains of material.

Read more. BBC

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