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astrophysics, cosmology, the universe...

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A decade of successful planet hunting - HARPS celebrates its tenth birthday

On 16-17 September 2013 a scientific meeting in Geneva entitled 10 Years of Science with HARPS celebrated a decade of full operation of the High-Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) - the world's foremost planet hunter. The meeting paid tribute to the extraordinary scientific results HARPS has provided and the unrivalled window it opens onto one of the most exciting areas of current astronomical science - the search for and characterisation of planets around other stars.

Posted: Sep 18th, 2013

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Young stars cooking in the Prawn Nebula

The glowing jumble of gas clouds visible in this new image make up a huge stellar nursery nicknamed the Prawn Nebula. Taken using the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile, this may well be the sharpest picture ever taken of this object. It shows clumps of hot new-born stars nestled in among the clouds that make up the nebula.

Posted: Sep 18th, 2013

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Magnetic jet shows how stars begin their final transformation

Astronomers have for the first time found a jet of high-energy particles from a dying star. The discovery, by a team including Chalmers scientists, is a crucial step in explaining how some of the most beautiful objects in space are formed - and what happens when stars like the sun reach the end of their lives.

Posted: Sep 16th, 2013

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'Red nugget' galaxies were hiding in plain sight

In 2005 the Hubble Space Telescope spotted unusually small galaxies densely packed with red stars in the distant, young universe. They were nicknamed "red nuggets." Since no "red nuggets" were seen nearby, astronomers wondered why they had disappeared over time. New research shows that they didn't disappear completely. In fact, they were simply hidden within the data of previous surveys.

Posted: Sep 13th, 2013

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Voyager's departure from the heliosphere

New data from NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft, which has been hurtling away from the sun since it was launched in 1977, indicates that the spacecraft has indeed left the comfort of the heliosphere and entered into a region of cold, dark space, known as interstellar space.

Posted: Sep 12th, 2013

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Take a virtual tour of Vesta with new high resolution atlases

An atlas of the asteroid, Vesta, created from images taken during the Dawn Mission's Low Altitude Mapping Orbit (LAMO), is now accessible for the public to explore online. The set of maps has been created from mosaics of 10 000 images from Dawn's framing camera (FC) instrument, taken at an average altitude of about 210 kilometres.

Posted: Sep 12th, 2013

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Hubble uncovers largest known population of star clusters

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered the largest known population of globular star clusters, an estimated 160,000, swarming like bees inside the crowded core of the giant grouping of galaxies Abell 1689. By comparison, our Milky Way galaxy hosts about 150 such clusters.

Posted: Sep 12th, 2013

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Planetary science meets the NewSpace entrepreneurs

Sessions at the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) 2013 today encouraged dialogue between the entrepreneurs who are exploring alternative ways to reach the Moon, Mars and beyond and the scientists that may become their future potential customers for the commercial flight of science instrumentation, as well as providing key data to enable the missions.

Posted: Sep 12th, 2013

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Detecting biomarkers on faraway planets

While biomarkers have never been spotted in observations of an exoplanet, because their signal is so faint, the new generation of telescopes being planned today, such as the European Extremely Large Telescope, may be sensitive enough to detect them. New research presented to the European Planetary Science Congress at UCL by Lee Grenfell (DLR) aims to explore how such biomarkers might be detected in future.

Posted: Sep 12th, 2013

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The peanut at the heart of our galaxy

Two groups of astronomers have used data from ESO telescopes to make the best three-dimensional map yet of the central parts of the Milky Way. They have found that the inner regions take on a peanut-like, or X-shaped, appearance from some angles. This odd shape was mapped by using public data from ESO's VISTA survey telescope along with measurements of the motions of hundreds of very faint stars in the central bulge.

Posted: Sep 12th, 2013

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