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astrophysics, cosmology, the universe...

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Stars' spins reveal their ages

When you're a kid every birthday is cause for celebration, but as you get older they become a little less exciting. You might not want to admit just how old you are. And you might notice yourself slowing down over the years. You're not alone - the same is true of stars. They slow down as they age, and their ages are well-kept secrets. Astronomers are taking advantage of the first fact to tackle the second and tease out stellar ages.

Posted: Jan 5th, 2015

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New instrument reveals recipe for other Earths

How do you make an Earth-like planet? The 'test kitchen' of Earth has given us a detailed recipe, but it wasn't clear whether other planetary systems would follow the same formula. Now, astronomers have found evidence that the recipe for Earth also applies to terrestrial exoplanets orbiting distant stars.

Posted: Jan 5th, 2015

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A simulation of the universe with realistic galaxies

An international team of astronomers developed a simulation of the universe in which realistic galaxies are created; their mass, size and age are similar to those of observed galaxies. Their similarity is caused by the simulation of strong galactic winds - gas winds that are blown from galaxies.

Posted: Dec 30th, 2014

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Scientists 'map' water vapor in Martian atmosphere

Scientists have created a 'map' of the distribution of water vapour in Mars' atmosphere. Their research includes observations of seasonal variations in atmospheric concentrations using data collected over ten years by the SPICAM spectrometer aboard the Mars Express orbiter.

Posted: Dec 23rd, 2014

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The Milky Way's new neighbour

The Milky Way, the galaxy we live in, is part of a cluster of more than 50 galaxies that make up the 'Local Group', a collection that includes the famous Andromeda galaxy and many other far smaller objects. Now a Russian-American team have added to the canon, finding a tiny and isolated dwarf galaxy almost 7 million light years away.

Posted: Dec 22nd, 2014

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Researchers solve mystery of the origin of the 'theta aurora'

One type of aurora is known as a 'theta aurora' because seen from above it looks like the Greek letter theta - an oval with a line crossing through the centre. While the cause of the auroral oval emissions is reasonably well understood, the origin of the theta aurora was unclear until now.

Posted: Dec 18th, 2014

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Kepler proves it can still find planets

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the report of the Kepler spacecraft's death was greatly exaggerated. Despite a malfunction that ended its primary mission in May 2013, Kepler is still alive and working. The evidence comes from the discovery of a new super-Earth using data collected during Kepler's 'second life'.

Posted: Dec 18th, 2014

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'Perfect storm' quenching star formation around a supermassive black hole

Astronomers have discovered that black holes don't have to be nearly so powerful to shut down star formation. By observing the dust and gas at the center of NGC 1266, a nearby lenticular galaxy with a relatively modest central black hole, the astronomers have detected a 'perfect storm' of turbulence that is squelching star formation in a region that would otherwise be an ideal star factory.

Posted: Dec 17th, 2014

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The hot blue stars of Messier 47

This spectacular image of the star cluster Messier 47 was taken using the Wide Field Imager camera, installed on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. This young open cluster is dominated by a sprinkling of brilliant blue stars but also contains a few contrasting red giant stars.

Posted: Dec 17th, 2014

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Stretched-out solid exoplanets

Astronomers could soon be able to find rocky planets stretched out by the gravity of the stars they orbit, according to a group of researchers.

Posted: Dec 15th, 2014

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