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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: November 2012
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New candidate for most distant known galaxy
(Nov 16, 2012)

A new candidate for the most distant known galaxy has emerged from a program that uses gravitational lensing of massive galaxy clusters to focus the light of very remote objects and thus make them visible through powerful instruments on (or near) Earth. Combining the power of the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes has revealed an object called MACS0647-JD to be the most far-away galaxy yet found, at a distance of 13.3 billion light-years, so that we are seeing it as it was when the universe was just 420 million years old.

Read more (NASA)

Artist impression of CFBDSIR2149
Nearby rogue planet found
(Nov 14, 2012)

What appears to be a free-floating, or rogue, planet has been found wandering through interstellar space about 100 light-years from the Sun. Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope believe the planet may be part of the the AB Doradus Moving Group but does not have a star of its own. It is estimated to have a mass of 4–7 times that of Jupiter and a surface temperature of about 430°C.

Read more (ESO)

Bs meson decay into two muons
Supersymmetry on the ropes
(Nov 13, 2012)

Researchers using one of the detectors at the Large Hadron Collider have recorded one of the rarest particle decays seen in nature. They have seen the decay of a Bs meson into two muons, the first time this decay has been observed. The team has calculated that for every billion times that the Bs meson decays it only decays in this way three times. If superparticles were to exist the decay wouldbe expected to happen far more often. The finding deals a significant blow to supersymmetry (SUSY) theory because it isn't consistent with most models of SUSY.

Read more (BBC)

The trick included developing a diamond-shaped cloaking region - invisible only from one direction
Perfect invisibility cloak developed
(Nov 12, 2012)

Scientists have succeeded in "cloaking" an object perfectly for the first time, rendering a centimeter-scale cylinder invisible to microwaves. Many "invisibility cloak" efforts have been demonstrated, but all have reflected some of the incident light, making the illusion incomplete. A Nature Materials study has now shown how to pull off the trick flawlessly.

Read more (BBC)

Odd pair of aging stars sculpt spectacular shape of planetary nebula
(Nov 11, 2012)

Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have discovered a pair of stars orbiting each other at the center of one of the most remarkable examples of a planetary nebula. The new result confirms a long-debated theory about what controls the spectacular and symmetric appearance of the material flung out into space.

Read more (ESO)

HD 40307g
Super-Earth found in six-planet system
(Nov 8, 2012)

Three more planets, including a super-Earth, have been discovered orbiting the star HD 40307, around which a trio of worlds was already known. The super-Earth, known as HD 40307g, lies in the habitable zone of its star – an orange dwarf 42 light-years away.

Read more (BBC)

LHS 2520
Superman's home star revealed!
(Nov 7, 2012)

We know which star Mr.Spock came from. Now, thanks to science pin-up Neil de Grasse Tyson, the star around which Superman's home planet orbits has been revealed. Tyson was approached by DC Comics to find a suitable fit for the superhero's star of origin among real stellar objects. His choice :a red dwarf known as LHS 2520, located 27 light-years away in the constellation Corvus.

Read more (Discover magazine)

The Martian methane mystery deepens
(Nov 6, 2012)

NASA's Curiosity rover has sniffed the Martian air, and found that something's missing. Earlier observations by spacecraft in orbit around the Red Planet, and telescopes on Earth, had suggested there were traces of methane on Mars – a gas that could only survive for a short time in the Martian atmosphere so that it would have to be continuously replenished by some process on the surface, either geological or biological in origin. But Curiosity's first test for methane has come up empty-handed.

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Comet Hergenrother
A comet breaks up before our eyes
(Nov 4, 2012)

Comet 168P-Hergenrother is currently traversing the inner solar system. Amateur and professional astronomers alike have been following the icy-dirt ball over the past several weeks as it has been generating a series of impressive outbursts of cometary-dust material. Now comes word that the comet's nucleus has begun to split apart.

Read more (NASA/JPL)

Jupiter and asteroid belt
Does life need the right kind of asteroid belt?
(Nov 2, 2012)

Planetary systems with life-bearing worlds may be rare if they depend on the presence of asteroid belts of just the right mass, according to a study by Rebecca Martin, a NASA Sagan Fellow from the University of Colorado in Boulder, and Mario Livio of the Space Telescope Science Institute. They suggest that the size and location of an asteroid belt, shaped by the evolution of the star's planet-forming disk and by the gravitational influence of a nearby giant Jupiter-like planet, may determine whether complex life will evolve on an Earth-like planet.

Read more (NASA/JPL)

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