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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: May 2012
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hot Jupiter
Hot Jupiters oust their siblings
(May 8, 2012)


If, in the early days of the Solar System, if Jupiter had encountered another giant planet and been thrown closer to the Sun it could have tossed all the inner planets, including the Earth, out of their orbits. Exactly this scenario seems to have happened in some extrasolar planetary systems which contain so-called hot Jupiters.

Read more. New Scientist

ATLAS detector
LHC prepares for data pile-up
(May 7, 2012)


The world's largest particle accelerator is roaring along at an unprecedented pace, delivering torrents of data to its physicist handlers. But the hundreds of millions of collisions happening inside the machine every second are now growing into a thick fog that, paradoxically, threatens to obscure a fabled quarry: the Higgs boson.

Read more. Nature

Activity on the Sun
Space weather expert has ominous forecast
(May 6, 2012)


A stream of highly charged particles from the Sun is headed straight toward Earth, threatening to plunge cities around the world into darkness and bring the global economy screeching to a halt. This isn't the premise of the latest doomsday thriller. Massive solar storms have happened before – and another one is likely to occur soon, according to Mike Hapgood, a space weather scientist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford, England.

Read more. Los Angeles Times

This computer-simulated image shows gas from a tidally shredded star falling into a black hole. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHU/UCSC
Black hole caught red-handed in a stellar homicide
(May 4, 2012)


Astronomers have gathered the most direct evidence yet of a supermassive black hole shredding a star that wandered too close. NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer, a space-based observatory, and the Pan-STARRS1 telescope on the summit of Haleakala in Hawaii were among the first to help identify the stellar remains.

Read more. NASA/JPL

Artwork of Juice, with Ganymede and Jupiter in the background
ESA approves Jupiter's moons mission
(May 3, 2012)


ESA has given the go-ahead to a one billion euro space mission to explore the icy moons of Jupiter. The Juice (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) mission will investigate the possibility of "waterworlds" that may harbor life. It will amke multiple close flyby's of Europa and Caliisto before entering orbit around Ganymede, the Solar System's biggest moon.

Read more. The Guardian

Fragments found from the large fireball over California
California meteorite is rare rock laden with organics
(May 2, 2012)


A meteorite that landed in northern California last week is much more valuable than scientists first thought. It turns out to be a very rare type of rock called a CM chondrite, which makes up less than 1 per cent of the meteorites that fall to Earth. This is the same type as the Murchison meteorite, which landed in Australia in 1969 and is now one of the most studied rocks in the world.

Read more. New Scientist

artwork of an asteroid impact
Ancient asteroids kept on coming
(May 1, 2012)


A pair of studies published in Nature suggests that the early battering the Earth endured from asteroids lasted much longer than previously thought, spanning nearly the entire first half of Earth's history. The results imply that a prolonged succession of impacts – some of them large enough to vaporize oceans – could have shaped the early evolution of life.

Read more. Nature

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