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astrophysics, cosmology, the universe...

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Space station MAXI-mizing our understanding of the universe

The Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI) collects data that help researchers discover, study and understand the physics behind the lifecycle of our universe. MAXI was key in two recent publications sharing results that make strides in advancing astrophysics.

Posted: Jan 16th, 2014

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Unravelling the web of a cosmic creeply-crawly

This new Hubble image is the best-ever view of a cosmic creepy-crawly known as the Tarantula Nebula, a region full of star clusters, glowing gas, and dark dust. Astronomers are exploring and mapping this nebula as part of the Hubble Tarantula Treasury Project, in a bid to try to understand its starry anatomy.

Posted: Jan 9th, 2014

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Hubble views stellar genesis in the Southern Pinwheel

A photogenic and favorite target for amateur astronomers, the full beauty of nearby barred spiral galaxy M83 is unveiled in all of its glory in this Hubble Space Telescope mosaic image. The vibrant magentas and blues reveal the galaxy is ablaze with star formation. The galaxy, also known as the Southern Pinwheel, lies 15 million light-years away in the constellation Hydra.

Posted: Jan 9th, 2014

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Swift catches x-ray action at Milky Way's center (w/video)

Recent observations by NASA's Swift spacecraft have provided scientists a unique glimpse into the activity at the center of our galaxy and led to the discovery of a rare celestial entity that may help them test predictions of Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity.

Posted: Jan 8th, 2014

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Newly discovered celestial object defies categories

An object discovered by astrophysicists at the University of Toronto nearly 500 light years away from the Sun may challenge traditional understandings about how planets and stars form. The object is located near and likely orbiting a very young star about 440 light years away from the Sun, and is leading astrophysicists to believe that there is not an easy-to-define line between what is and is not a planet.

Posted: Jan 8th, 2014

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Stormy stars? NASA's Spitzer probes weather on brown dwarfs

Swirling, stormy clouds may be ever-present on cool celestial orbs called brown dwarfs. New observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope suggest that most brown dwarfs are roiling with one or more planet-size storms akin to Jupiter's 'Great Red Spot'.

Posted: Jan 7th, 2014

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Hubble unveils a deep sea of small and faint early galaxies

A team of scientists led by astronomers at the University of California, Riverside has used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to uncover the long-suspected underlying population of galaxies that produced the bulk of new stars during the universe's early years. The galaxies are the smallest, faintest, and most numerous galaxies ever seen in the remote universe, and were captured by Hubble deep exposures taken in ultraviolet light.

Posted: Jan 7th, 2014

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Gemini Planet Imager first light

After nearly a decade of development, construction, and testing, the world's most advanced instrument for directly imaging and analyzing planets around other stars is pointing skyward and collecting light from distant worlds.

Posted: Jan 7th, 2014

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Astronomy students discover rare eclipsing double asteroid

Students in a University of Maryland undergraduate astronomy class made a discovery that wowed professional astronomers: a previously unstudied asteroid is actually a pair of asteroids that orbit and eclipse one another. Fewer than 100 binary eclipsing asteroids have been found in the main asteroid belt.

Posted: Jan 7th, 2014

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Fermi makes first gamma-ray study of a gravitational lens (w/video)

An international team of astronomers, using NASA's Fermi observatory, has made the first-ever gamma-ray measurements of a gravitational lens, a kind of natural telescope formed when a rare cosmic alignment allows the gravity of a massive object to bend and amplify light from a more distant source.

Posted: Jan 6th, 2014

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ALMA spots supernova dust factory

Striking new observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope capture, for the first time, the remains of a recent supernova brimming with freshly formed dust. If enough of this dust makes the perilous transition into interstellar space, it could explain how many galaxies acquired their dusty, dusky appearance.

Posted: Jan 6th, 2014

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