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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: September 2012
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Cen A: the elliptical with spiral arms Sep 28, 2012
Ancient buddha statue made from iron meteorite Sep 27, 2012
Hubble's most amazing picture to date Sep 26, 2012
Where have all the short-period binaries gone? Sep 25, 2012
Space debris may have been behind aerial show over Britain Sep 24, 2012
Spheres are the worst packers – but only in 3D Sep 22, 2012
A galaxy far, far away Sep 20, 2012
Warp drive: early lab tests begin Sep 19, 2012
Colliding meteors could give false life signs Sep 18, 2012
GRAIL Moon probes force scientists to rethink lunar theories Sep 17, 2012
Two planets found in the Beehive cluster Sep 16, 2012
Opportunity finds mysterious spheres Sep 15, 2012
Life on eccentric exoplanets? Sep 13, 2012
A young star hurtles to its doom in the galactic center Sep 12, 2012
Curiosity takes a self-portrait Sep 11, 2012
Curiosity takes a self-portrait Sep 10, 2012
Curiosity breathes in the Martian air Sep 7, 2012
Dawn sets sail for Ceres> Sep 6, 2012
Cosmic lithium shortage confirmed Sep 5, 2012
Moon bubbles and deflector shields Sep 4, 2012
Viking saga Sep 3, 2012
Inside the Tarantula, two star clusters collide Sep 1, 2012


Centaurus A
Cen A: the elliptical with spiral arms
(Sep 28, 2012)


Centaurus A is the nearest radio galaxy to us at a distance of a mere 11 million light-years. It's also just been found to be special in another way – the first elliptical galaxy known to have spiral arms. These arms are not made of stars, however, but instead of molecular gas.

Read more

Buddha statue made from an iron meteorite
Ancient buddha statue made from iron meteorite
(Sep 27, 2012)


A statue known as the Iron Man, showing buddha with a ancient swastika symbol, turns out to made from an iron meteorite – in fact, part of the Chinga meteorite, which fell about 15,000 years ago. The 22lb object was recovered by a Nazi expedition in the 1930s.

Read more (BBC)

Hubble deep field view
Hubble's most amazing picture to date
(Sep 26, 2012)


Just published is Hubble's eXtreme Deep Field – the veteran space telescope's most detailed and penetrating view of the universe. Built up from 500 hours of observation of a small patch of sky in the constellation Fornax, it captures 5,000 galaxies, ranging from some relatively nearby to one seen as it was when the cosmos was less than half a billion years old.

Read more (BBC)

Artwork of Sirius A and B
Where have all the short-period binaries gone?
(Sep 25, 2012)


In regions where stars have recently formed, binary star systems start out with a uniform distribution of orbital periods: there are roughly equal numbers of them with periods of 1–10 years, 10–100 years, 100–1,000 years, and so on. But among older binaries, relatively few have short periods. Now, using computer simulations, three German astronomers believe they know why: stars that are close together have their orbits changed due to interactions with the gas in the cluster around them, causing them to spiral towards each other and eventually merge.

Read more (Nature)

Mysterious trails seen in the night sky over Britain
Space debris may have been behind aerial show over Britain
(Sep 24, 2012)


Spectacular lights seen in the sky across the UK a couple of nights ago were probably pieces of space junk burning up in the atmosphere. Reports came in of large, colorful trails which at first were taken to be a meteoroid breaking up. But astronomers now suspect, on the basis of the descriptions given, that the more likely cause was a chunk of some old satellite disintegrating about 80 miles above the ground.

Read more (BBC)

stacked oranges
Spheres are the worst packers – but only in 3D
(Sep 22, 2012)


We've long suspected it, of course – nothing packs together worse than spheres. They leave big gaps no matter how you arrange them. Now, its official: spheres are the biggest space-wasters of any (symmetrical) shape in 3D. But – here's the interesting thing – only in 3D.

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MACS 1149-JD
A galaxy far, far away
(Sep 20, 2012)


There's a new candidate for the most distant galaxy ever found. Called MACS 1149-JD it lies 13.2 billion light-years away and is seen when the universe was a mere 400 million years old. This takes astronomers back to an era when the first galaxies were forming and will help inform theories on how that process took place.

Read more (NASA/Spitzer)

Warp drive diagram
Warp drive: early lab tests begin
(Sep 19, 2012)


Warp drive would allow starships to move much faster than the speed of light without breaking the rules of Einstein's special theory of relativity. It may have started out as a piece of entertaining fiction, but a team of scientists at NASA's Johnson Space Center think that warp drive might be a practical proposition and have already started small-scale lab experiments.

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Carbonaceous chondrites are thought to be a potential source of early Earth’s volatile elements and possibly organic material. Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith
Colliding meteors could give false life signs
(Sep 18, 2012)


Finding methane in the atmosphere of an exoplanet would be an exciting discovery, because the main way methane is produced on Earth is by biological processes. But according to new research published in the journal Planetary and Space Science, astronomers need to be cautious. Methane could end up in a young planet's atmosphere because of meteor collisions.

Read more (Astrobiology Magazine)

GRAIL mission
GRAIL Moon probes force scientists to rethink lunar theories
(Sep 17, 2012)


First results from NASA's twin GRAIL satellites, which are orbiting the Moon, have brought some surprises. The Moon's crust is much thinner than previously thought, with an average of only 30km. Also there's a close correlation between the gravitational field and topography, suggesting that the field is dominated by deep lunar craters rather than the structure of the interior.

Read more (Nature)

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