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astrophysics, cosmology, the universe...

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Less to the Milky Way than previously thought

The Milky Way is less massive than astronomers previously thought, according to new research. For the first time, scientists have been able to precisely measure the mass of the galaxy that contains our Solar system.

Posted: Jul 30th, 2014

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Mysterious molecules in space

A group of scientists has offered a tantalizing new possibility: these mysterious molecules may be silicon-capped hydrocarbons like SiC3H, SiC4H and SiC5H, and they present data and theoretical arguments to back that hypothesis.

Posted: Jul 29th, 2014

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Glow in space is evidence of a hot bubble in our galaxy

A recent study shows that the emission is dominated by the local hot bubble of gas - 1 million degrees - with, at most, 40 percent of emission originating within the solar system. The findings should put to rest the disagreement about the origin of the X-ray emission and confirm the existence of the local hot bubble.

Posted: Jul 28th, 2014

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New mass map of a distant galaxy cluster is the most precise yet

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have mapped the mass within a galaxy cluster more precisely than ever before. Created using observations from Hubble's Frontier Fields observing programme, the map shows the amount and distribution of mass within MCS J0416.1-2403, a massive galaxy cluster found to be 160 trillion times the mass of the Sun.

Posted: Jul 24th, 2014

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Voyager spacecraft might not have reached interstellar space

In 2012, the Voyager mission team announced that the Voyager 1 spacecraft had passed into interstellar space, traveling further from Earth than any other manmade object. But, in the nearly two years since that historic announcement, and despite subsequent observations backing it up, uncertainty about whether Voyager 1 really crossed the threshold continues.

Posted: Jul 23rd, 2014

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Satellite galaxies put astronomers in a spin

An international team of researchers has studied 380 galaxies and shown that their small satellite galaxies almost always move in rotating discs. However, such satellite galaxy discs are not predicted by current models of the formation of structures in the Universe. This discovery could cause modelers serious headaches in the years ahead.

Posted: Jul 23rd, 2014

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A new approach in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence: targeting alien polluters

Humanity is on the threshold of being able to detect signs of alien life on other worlds. By studying exoplanet atmospheres, we can look for gases like oxygen and methane that only coexist if replenished by life. But those gases come from simple life forms like microbes. What about advanced civilizations? Would they leave any detectable signs? They might, if they spew industrial pollution into the atmosphere.

Posted: Jul 23rd, 2014

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Lives and deaths of sibling stars

In this new image from La Silla Observatory in Chile young stars huddle together against clouds of glowing gas and lanes of dust. The star cluster, NGC 3293, would have been just a cloud of gas and dust itself about ten million years ago, but as stars began to form it became the bright group of stars we see here. Clusters like this are laboratories that allow astronomers to learn about how stars evolve.

Posted: Jul 23rd, 2014

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Fermi finds a 'Transformer' pulsar (w/video)

In late June 2013, an exceptional binary containing a rapidly spinning neutron star underwent a dramatic change in behavior never before observed. The pulsar's radio beacon vanished, while at the same time the system brightened fivefold in gamma rays, the most powerful form of light, according to measurements by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

Posted: Jul 23rd, 2014

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Hubble traces the halo of a galaxy more accurately than ever before

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have probed the extreme outskirts of the stunning elliptical galaxy Centaurus A. The galaxy's halo of stars has been found to extend much further from the galaxy's centre than expected and the stars within this halo seem to be surprisingly rich in heavy elements. This is the most remote portion of an elliptical galaxy ever to have been explored.

Posted: Jul 22nd, 2014

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