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Brown dwarfs (circled) as seen from a vantage point about 30 light-years from the Sun. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
WISE finds few brown dwarfs close to home
(Jun 9, 2012)

NASA's WISE infrared telescope has spotted fewer browndwarfs in the solar neighborhood than expected. Previous estimates had predicted as many brown dwarfs as typical stars, but the new initial tally from WISE shows just one brown dwarf for every six stars. It's the cosmic equivalent to finally being able to see down a mysterious, gated block and finding only a few homes.

Read more. NASA/WISE

Astronomers identify very distant (but not the most distant) galaxy
(Jun 8, 2012)

A group of astronomers using the 8.2-meter Subaru Telescope in Hawaii have found what appears to be a galaxy 750 million years or so after the Big Bang. Unfortunately, a misleading press release proclaimed SXDF-NB1006-2 "the most distant galaxy ever found," although the researchers make no such claim in their study. In fact, in recent years astronomers dozens of galaxies have been discovered with similar redshifts (of 8 or so) and one probable galaxy at a redshift of about 10, corresponding to a time 500 million years after the Big Bang.

Read more. Scientific American

Ray Bradbury
Sci Fi writer Ray Bradbury dies
(Jun 7, 2012)

Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, author of "Fahrenheit 451" has died at the age of 91. Bradbury's dystopian works served as cautionary tales about perilous futures and reflected the anxieties of post-war America. Bradbury's publisher HarperCollins confirmed his death on Tuesday in Los Angeles after an unspecified "lengthy illness," as tributes poured in from fans and family alike for a man seen as one of the genre's greatest authors.

Read more. Daily Telegraph

transit of Venus
Venus to put on Sun spectacular
(Jun 5, 2012)

Planet Venus is set to move across the face of the Sun as viewed from Earth. The more than six-and-a-half-hour transit, which starts just after 22:00 GMT (23:00 BST) on Tuesday is a very rare astronomical phenomenon that will not be witnessed again until 2117. Observers will position themselves in northwest America, the Pacific, and East Asia to catch the whole event.

Read more. BBC

Mysterious radiation burst recorded in tree rings
(Jun 4, 2012)

Just over 1,200 years ago, the planet was hit by an extremely intense burst of high-energy radiation of unknown cause, scientists studying tree-ring data have found. The radiation burst, which seems to have hit between ad 774 and ad 775, was detected by looking at the amounts of the radioactive isotope carbon-14 in tree rings that formed during the ad 775 growing season in the Northern Hemisphere.

Read more. BBC

Gliese 581d
'No signal' from targeted ET hunt
(Jun 2, 2012)

The hunt for other intelligent civilizations has a new technique in its arsenal, but its first use has turned up no signs of alien broadcasts. Australian astronomers used "very long baseline interferometry" to examine Gliese 581, a star known to host planets in its habitable zone. The hunt for aliens is fundamentally a vast numbers game, so the team's result should come as no surprise.

Read more. BBC

An illustration shows the night sky 3.75 billion years from now. Andromeda (left) fills the field of view and begins to distort the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy
Hubble times Milky Way and Andromeda galaxy pile-up
(Jun 1, 2012)

Astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope to work out when precisely our Milky Way Galaxy will crash into its neighbor, Andromeda. The pair are being pulled together by their mutual gravity and the scientists expect them to begin to merge in about four billion years' time. A further two billion years on and they will appear as a single entity.

Read more. BBC

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