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astrophysics, cosmology, the universe...

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An experiment recreates the crust of the moon Europa

Water, salts and gases dissolved in the huge ocean that scientists believe could exist below Europa's icy crust can rise to the surface generating the enigmatic geological formations associated to red-tinged materials that can be seen on this Jupiter's satellite.

Posted: Mar 14th, 2014

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Reducing debris threat from satellite batteries

A new study by ESA's Clean Space initiative - tasked with reducing the space industry's environmental impacts on both Earth and space - aims to evaluate battery behaviour after a satellite shuts down, assessing the risk of breakup and ensuring full 'passivation'.

Posted: Mar 13th, 2014

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VLT spots largest yellow hypergiant star

ESO's Very Large Telescope has revealed the largest yellow star - and one of the 10 largest stars found so far. This hypergiant has been found to measure more than 1,300 times the diameter of the Sun, and to be part of a double star system, with the second component so close that it is in contact with the main star. Observations spanning over 60 years also indicate that this remarkable object is changing very rapidly.

Posted: Mar 12th, 2014

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Some galaxies in the early universe grew up quickly

Most of the galaxies that have been observed from the early days of the universe were young and actively forming stars. Now, an international team of astronomers have discovered galaxies that were already mature and massive in the early days. Fifteen mature galaxies were found at a record-breaking average distance of 12 billion light years, when the universe was just 1.6 billion years old. Their existence at such an early time raises new questions about what forced them to grow up so quickly.

Posted: Mar 11th, 2014

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X-ray laser FLASH spies deep into giant gas planets

Using DESY's X-ray laser FLASH, researchers took a sneak peek deep into the lower atmospheric layers of giant gas planets such as Jupiter or Saturn. The observations reveal how liquid hydrogen becomes a plasma, providing information on the material's thermal conductivity and its internal energy exchange - important ingredients for planetary models.

Posted: Mar 11th, 2014

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The glory of Venus

A rainbow-like light phenomenon observed on Venus cloud tops helps to identify the components of the planet's acidic cloud cover.

Posted: Mar 11th, 2014

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Eleventh MESSENGER planetary data system release is the largest yet

The Planetary Data System (PDS), which archives and distributes data from all of NASA's planetary missions, today released its eleventh batch of data collected by the MESSENGER mission. With this release, images and measurements are now available to the public for the fifth full Mercury solar day of MESSENGER orbital operations.

Posted: Mar 10th, 2014

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'Death stars' in Orion blast planets before they even form

The Orion Nebula is home to hundreds of young stars and even younger protostars known as proplyds. Many of these nascent systems will go on to develop planets, while others will have their planet-forming dust and gas blasted away by the fierce ultraviolet radiation emitted by massive O-type stars that lurk nearby.

Posted: Mar 10th, 2014

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New Van Allen Probes observations helping to improve space weather models

Using data from NASA's Van Allen Probes, researchers have tested and improved a model to help forecast what's happening in the radiation environment of near-Earth space -- a place seething with fast-moving particles and a space weather system that varies in response to incoming energy and particles from the sun.

Posted: Mar 9th, 2014

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