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Scientists Construct Geological Maps of Pluto’s

February 12, 2016

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Putting Pluto’s Geology on the Map

How to make sense of Pluto’s surprising geological complexity? To help understand the diversity of terrain and to piece together how Pluto’s surface has formed and evolved over time, mission scientists construct geological maps like the one shown above. This map covers a portion of Pluto’s surface that measures 1,290 miles (2,070 kilometers) from top […]

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NSF’s LIGO Detects Gravitational Waves

February 12, 2016

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LIGO Detects Gravitational Waves

Using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), the National Science Foundation has detected gravitational waves. Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in his general theory of relativity a century ago, and scientists have been attempting to detect them for 50 years. Einstein pictured these waves as ripples in the fabric of space-time produced […]

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Astronomers Reveal Hidden Galaxies Behind the Milky Way

February 11, 2016

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Astronomers Find Hidden Galaxies Behind the Milky Way

Using CSIRO’s Parkes Radio Telescope equipped with an innovative receiver, a team of astronomers were able to see through the stars and dust of the Milky Way, into a previously unexplored region of space. The discovery may help to explain the Great Attractor region, which appears to be drawing the Milky Way and hundreds of […]

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HD 97300 Lights Up The Surrounding Cosmic Clouds

February 10, 2016

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Star HD 97300 Provides a Reflection for Nebula IC 2631

A newly released image from the La Silla Observatory shows the reflection nebula IC 2631 from the light of star HD 97300. A newly formed star lights up the surrounding cosmic clouds in this new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. Dust particles in the vast clouds that surround the star HD 97300 […]

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New ASTRO-H Satellite to Study Black Holes and Galaxy Clusters

February 10, 2016

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New X-ray Observatory to Study Black Holes and History of Galaxy Clusters

Set to launch on Friday, the ASTRO-H satellite will help provide breakthroughs in a wide variety of high-energy phenomena in the cosmos, ranging from the superheated material on the brink of falling into a black hole to the evolution of vast galaxy clusters. Black hole enthusiasts, galaxy cluster aficionados, and X-ray astronomers have much to […]

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Ices and Shadows – Cassini Views Saturn’s Moon Tethys

February 9, 2016

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New Image of Saturn's Moon Tethys

NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft views Saturn’s moon Tethys. Saturn’s moon Tethys appears to float between two sets of rings in this view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, but it’s just a trick of geometry. The rings, which are seen nearly edge-on, are the dark bands above Tethys, while their curving shadows paint the planet at the bottom […]

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Preliminary Reference Earth Model Shows Earth-like Planets Have Earth-like Interiors

February 8, 2016

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PREM Model Shows Mass-Radius Relation for Rocky Planets

New research from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics reveals that rocky worlds share similar structures, with a core containing about a third of the planet’s mass, surrounded by a mantle and topped by a thin crust. Every school kid learns the basic structure of the Earth: a thin outer crust, a thick mantle, and a […]

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Hubble Image of the Week – The Icy Blue Wings of Hen 2-437

February 8, 2016

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The Icy Blue Wings of Hen 2-437

This newly released Hubble image shows planetary nebula Hen 2-437. In this cosmic snapshot, the spectacularly symmetrical wings of Hen 2-437 show up in a magnificent icy blue hue. Hen 2-437 is a planetary nebula, one of around 3000 such objects known to reside within the Milky Way. Located within the faint northern constellation of […]

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Astronomers Observe Star Formation in the Outskirts of Galaxies

February 5, 2016

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Star Formation in the Outer Spiral Regions of Galaxy NGC 4625

A newly published study from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics finds that the star formation processes in the outer spiral regions of the galaxy NGC 4625 generally resemble the processes at work in more normal, denser regions where molecular gas abounds. Star formation environments can be roughly grouped into three types, categorized by the density […]

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Astronomers Discover Unexpectedly Cold Grains in a Planet-Forming Disc

February 4, 2016

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Unexpectedly Cold Grains in Planet-Forming Disc Discovered

Using the ALMA and IRAM telescopes, a team of astronomers has made the first direct measurement of the temperature of the large dust grains in the outer parts of a planet-forming disc around a young star. By applying a novel technique to observations of an object nicknamed the Flying Saucer they find that the grains […]

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Adjusts Flight Path for Jupiter

February 4, 2016

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Burns for Jupiter

Launched in 2011, the Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter in 2016 to study Jupiter from an elliptical, polar orbit. NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft successfully executed a maneuver to adjust its flight path today, February 3. The maneuver refined the spacecraft’s trajectory, helping set the stage for Juno’s arrival at the solar system’s largest planetary […]

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Asteroid 2013 TX68 to Pass Earth on March 5

February 3, 2016

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Small Asteroid 2013 TX68 to Pass Close to Earth March 5

Asteroid 2013 TX68 (which flew past Earth at a comfortable distance of about 1.3 million miles two years ago) will safely fly by our planet again in a few weeks, though this time it may be much closer. During the upcoming March 5 flyby, asteroid 2013 TX68 could fly past Earth as far out as […]

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Cassini Reveals Saturn’s Rings Less Dense Than They Appear

February 3, 2016

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Saturn's B Rings Less than Meets the Eye

New data from NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft reveals that there is little correlation between how dense the rings of Saturn might appear to be — in terms of its opacity and reflectiveness — and the amount of material they contain. It seems intuitive that an opaque material should contain more stuff than a more translucent substance. […]

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Chandra Observations Confirm a Counterjet from Pictor A

February 2, 2016

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Pictor A Blast from Black Hole Far Away

Astronomers have discovered a giant jet spanning continuously for over 300,000 light years blasting out of the galaxy Pictor A. In addition to the main jet, they also discovered evidence for a jet moving in the opposite direction. The Star Wars franchise has featured the fictitious “Death Star,” which can shoot powerful beams of radiation […]

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New Horizons Spacecraft Reveals More Water Ice on Pluto’s Surface Than Previously Thought

February 1, 2016

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Astronomers Find More Water Ice on Pluto’s Surface Than Previously Thought

New data from the New Horizons Spacecraft reveals more water ice on Pluto’s surface than previously thought. This false-color image, derived from observations in infrared light by the Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) instrument, shows where the spectral features of water ice are abundant on Pluto’s surface. It is based on two LEISA scans […]

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New Animation Shows a Simulated Flight Over the Surface of Dwarf Planet Ceres

February 1, 2016

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New Animation Takes a Colorful Flight Over Ceres

Take a flight over dwarf planet Ceres in this video made with images from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. The simulated flyover was made by the mission’s camera team at Germany’s national aeronautics and space research center. A colorful new animation shows a simulated flight over the surface of dwarf planet Ceres, based on images from NASA’s […]

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New Cassini Image Shows Methane in Saturn’s Atmosphere

February 1, 2016

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Cassini Image of Methane in Saturn's Atmosphere

The soft, bright-and-dark bands revealed in this new image from the Cassini Spacecraft are the signature of methane in Saturn’s atmosphere. This image was taken in wavelengths of light that are absorbed by methane on Saturn. Dark areas are regions where light travels deeper into the atmosphere (passing through more methane) before reflecting and scattering […]

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Hubble Image of the Week – Peculiar Galaxy NGC 1487

February 1, 2016

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Hubble Views NGC 1487

This newly released Hubble image shows peculiar galaxy NGC 1487, which is about 30 million light-years away in the southern constellation of Eridanus. Rather than viewing a celestial object, it is actually better to think of this as an event. Here, we are witnessing two or more galaxies in the act of merging together to […]

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