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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: November 2012
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Mercury: the icy planet? Nov 30, 2012
Most out-of-proportion black hole ever found Nov 29, 2012
UK spaceplane passes key test Nov 28, 2012
Next flight of the Dragon delayed Nov 27, 2012
Life found in isolated sub-ice lake Nov 27, 2012
Bridge between galaxy clusters found in early universe Nov 25, 2012
No signs yet of new physics at the LHC Nov 23, 2012
Dwarf planet Makemake starts to give up its secrets Nov 22, 2012
You're All Going To Die! (My not-so-scary talk at the Royal Institution Nov 19, 2012
Dark matter event in the galactic core? Nov 19, 2012
New candidate for most distant known galaxy Nov 16, 2012
Nearby rogue planet found Nov 14, 2012
Supersymmetry on the ropes Nov 13, 2012
Perfect invisibility cloak developed Nov 12, 2012
Odd pair of aging stars sculpt spectacular shape of planetary nebula Nov 11, 2012
Super-Earth found in six-planet system Nov 8, 2012
Superman's home star revealed! Nov 7, 2012
The Martian methane mystery deepens Nov 6, 2012
A comet breaks up before our eyes Nov 4, 2012
Does life need the right kind of asteroid belt? Nov 2, 2012
A little bit of Hawaii on the Red Planet? Nov 1, 2012


Mercury polar craters
Mercury: the icy planet?
(Nov 30, 2012)


Surprise, surprise, there's water (ice) on Mercury. Hard to imagine, isn't it, that there'd be anything frozen solid on the nearest planet to the Sun, where on much of the surface during the day it's hot enough to melt lead. But in sheltered craters at the poles, the temperatures are permanently far below zero, and inside them NASA's MESSENGER probe has detected water ice and other volatiles.

Read more (NASA/JPL)

NGC 1277
Most out-of-proportion black hole ever found
(Nov 29, 2012)


A modest spiral galaxy called NGC 1277, smaller than our own and lying 200 million light-years away, has been found to have a colossal supermassive black hole in its core, out of all proportion to the mass of all the galaxy's stars. NGC 1277's central black hole weighs 17 billion solar masses, which is 59% of the mass of its central bulge and 14 per cent of its total stellar mass. This suggests that the galaxy has not grown over time through galaxy collisions and may be a pristine relic of a quasar that once shone brilliantly in the early universe.

Read more (New Scientist)

Artist impression of Skylon taking off
UK spaceplane passes key test
(Nov 28, 2012)


The first true operational spaceplane – a vehicle that can take off from a runway, go into orbit, and land again like an ordinary plane – could be British. Skylon, being developed by Reaction Engines Ltd, of Culham, Oxfordshire, has just passed a key milestone, with the successful testing of its propulsion system. All the company needs now is a bit of cash to complete the next phase. Anybody have £250 million to spare?

Read more (BBC)

Dragon CRS-1 launch
Next flight of the Dragon delayed
(Nov 27, 2012)


The second commercial flight of Space Exploration Technologies’ (SpaceX) Dragon cargo vessel to the International Space Station (ISS) has been pushed back from January until no-earlier-than March 1, 2013. The delay, announced by NASA managers, will allow more time for investigation of the Falcon 9 engine malfunction which occurred during the launch of the first commercial Dragon mission on Oct. 7.

Read more (AmericaSpace.org)

Lake Vida
Life found in isolated sub-ice lake
(Nov 27, 2012)


In the dark, 60 feet below the permanent ice coating of an Antarctic lake where the salinity is 20% and the temperature an all-year-round -13°C, previously unknown species of bacteria have been discovered. The microbial residents of Lake Vida, in the northernmost of the McMurdo Dry Valleys of East Antarctica, have been isolated from the outside world for at least 2,800 years. Their survival in such a harsh environment offers encouragement to astrobiologists who have suggested that life might exist in sub-ice watery bodies on Europa and other moons in the outer solar system.

Read more (The Guardian)

intergalactic brdige
Bridge between galaxy clusters found in early universe
(Nov 25, 2012)


How about this: a bridge of gas 10 million light-years long joining two different galaxy clusters in the early universe? That's what the Planck space telescope has discovered thanks to something called the Sunyaev–Zel’dovich effect.

Read more (ESA)

particle collision at ECRN
No signs yet of new physics at the LHC
(Nov 23, 2012)


No signs of SUSY particles and too many signs that the Higgs is bog-standard. After the elation of finding a new particle – the missing piece of the Standard Model – physicists are feeling slightly downbeat. If supersymmetry proves not to be the way forward, then what is?

Read more (New Scientist)

Artist's impression of Makemake
Dwarf planet Makemake starts to give up its secrets
(Nov 22, 2012)


Only five members of the category of object known as "dwarf planet" are known – one of them being Pluto. Now astronomers have taken their first close look at the dwarf planet called Makemake, finding that it is roughly as dense of Pluto (1.7 grams per cubic centimeter) and lacks any trace of an atmosphere.

Read more (BBC)

Royal Institution
You're All Going To Die! (My not-so-scary talk at the Royal Institution
(Nov 19, 2012)


If you're in the London area tomorrow (Tue, Nov. 20) you might like to pop in to the Royal Institution at 7pm to catch my talk on megacatastrophes – the subject of my latest book. Don't worry, it's quite light-hearted and we even have some musical entertainment laid on. The event is hosted and introduced by BBC presenter Dallas Campbell.

Read more (Royal Institution)

Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope
Dark matter event in the galactic core?
(Nov 19, 2012)


An unusual spectral line with an energy of 135 giga–electron volts (GeV) – in the gamma-ray region of the spectrum – has been spotted coming from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. Although the observation has still to be confirmed, if true it might represent a dark matter signal. The line was first noticed by physicist Christoph Weniger in data collected by the Fermi Gamma-Ray Spacecraft and could be explained by the collsion of dark matter particles.

Read more (Scientific American)

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