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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: March 2012
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asteroid approaching Earth
Villain in disguise: Jupiterís role in impacts on Earth
(Mar 12, 2012)


Jupiter is often credited for shielding Earth from catastrophic asteroid and comet impacts. But new simulations of the influence of gas giant planets in solar systems casts doubt on Jupiter's reputation as Earth's protector.

Read more. Astrobiology Magazine

Where to see the Venus-Jupiter conjunction
Venus and Jupiter to pass in the night sky
(Mar 12, 2012)


The pairing of Jupiter and Venus in the sky is set to reach its closest point in the coming days. Despite being vastly far from one another in space, the conjunction will make them appear just a few degrees apart in the sky – about the width of a pair of fingers held at arm's length. The pair can be seen to the west-southwest, shortly after sunset.

Read more. BBC

Neutrino detector. Image credit: Roy Kaltschmidt, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
Neutrinos could help explain missing antimatter
(Mar 10, 2012)


Neutrinos produced by a nuclear reactor in China are changing from one flavor to another more rapidly than expected. The result means physicists could soon explain why the universe is filled with matter instead of featureless radiation.

Read more. New Scientist

Giant solar flare. Image credit: NASA
Here comes the Sun – uh, uh, uh, oh
(Mar 8, 2012)


Airlines and energy suppliers are on alert as the largest solar storm in five years heads toward Earth, threatening to disrupt flights and power lines. The eruption on the surface of the sun, known as a coronal mass ejection, has led to a "massive amount of solar particles heading towards Earth", which are due to hit the planet between 6am and 10am GMT on Thursday morning, a Met Office spokesman said. But he added that the phenomenon was likely to go unnoticed by most.

Read more. The Guardian

A team of volunteers from the general public has pored over observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and discovered more than 5,000 bubbles in the disk of our Milky Way galaxy. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Oxford University
Citizen scientists reveal a bubbly Milky Way
(Mar 7, 2012)


A team of volunteers has pored over observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and discovered more than 5,000 "bubbles" in the disk of our Milky Way galaxy. Young, hot stars blow these bubbles into surrounding gas and dust, indicating areas of brand new star formation.

Read more. BBC

Artists's impression of Kepler 22b
More than 2,300 possible planets now identified by Kepler
(Mar 7, 2012)


1,091 new transiting planet candidates have emerged from analysis of Kepler spacecraft data spanning May 2009 to September 2010, bringing the total count to 2,321 Kepler planet candidates orbiting 1,790 host stars. A clear trend toward smaller planets at longer orbital periods is evident with each new catalog release. This suggests that Earth-size planets in the habitable zone are forthcoming if, indeed, such planets are abundant.

Read more. NASA

Tevatron
Tevatron collider's mighty boost for Higgs hunt
(Mar 5, 2012)


The Tevatron may now be defunct, but it is still detangling the nature of matter from beyond the grave. The late particle-smasher's two main experiments, CDF and DZero, have released the most precise measurement yet of the mass of the W boson, one of the fundamental particles in the standard model of particle physics.

Read more. New Scientist

Sightings of the meteor were reported in Scotland and as far south as Devon
Meteor witnessed across Britain
(Mar 4, 2012)


Police forces say they have received a number of calls reporting what is believed to have been a meteor. Reports of a "bright light" and an "orange glow" came in across the north of England and Scotland at about 21:40 GMT amid fears a plane had crashed. The Met Office tweeted: "Hi All, for anyone seeing something in the night sky, we believe it was a meteorite."

Read more. BBC

Composite image of Abell 520 which combines data from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory
Darkness visible in galactic train wreck
(Mar 4, 2012)


It looks like classic Star Trek meets golden-era disco dance floor, but actually we're looking at a visualisation of the dark matter and hot gas at the core of the galaxy cluster Abell 520. Situated 2.4 billion light-years from Earth, Abell 520 was formed by the cosmic train wreck of several smaller galaxy clusters. In the debris of this collision, astronomers found a massive dark core devoid of bright galaxies and which challenged basic theories of dark matter.

Read more. New Scientist

Dione
Oxygen envelops Saturn's icy moon
(Mar 2, 2012)


The Cassini spacecraft has detected oxygen around one of Saturn's icy moons, Dione. The discovery supports a theory that suggests all of the moons near Saturn and Jupiter might have oxygen around them. Researchers say that their finding increases the likelihood of finding the ingredients for life on one of the moons orbiting gas giants.

Read more. BBC

ATA
SETI Live website to crowdsource alien life
(Mar 1, 2012)


A website has been launched that aims to get the public involved in the search for extraterrestrial life. Announced at the TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference in Los Angeles, the site will stream radio frequencies that are transmitted from the SETI Institute's Allen Telescope Array. Participants will be asked to search for signs of unusual activity.

Read more. BBC

Young stars in the Orion Nebula
Young stars flicker amidst clouds of gas and dust
(Mar 1, 2012)


Astronomers have spotted young stars in the Orion nebula changing right before their eyes, thanks to the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The colorful specks – developing stars strung across the image – are rapidly heating up and cooling down, speaking to the turbulent, rough-and-tumble process of reaching full stellar adulthood.

Read more. NASA/JPL

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