Space

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Cassini-Huygens is probably the most famous deep-space probe humanity has produced. Its launch, a joint venture between the Italian Space Agency, the European Space Agency and NASA, was a major international collaboration intended to send images and other data about Saturn and its many moons back to Earth. However, none of these agencies could have anticipated in full the revelations that Cassini’s sensors and cameras would transmit over its lengthy mission.

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Astronomers now agree that at the center of large galaxies, lie supermassive black holes. These black holes usually have a mass greater than a million solar masses. As yet though, the formation of these supermassive black holes has remained somewhat of a mystery. Astronomers have long suggested that perhaps a possible explanation for the sheer magnitude of these black holes is that they may have been formed from a number of smaller, intermediate-mass black holes merging together in order to eventually form a supermassive black hole.

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In the constellation of Aquarius, lies a small star known as Trappist-1. Around this star, seven Earth-sized planets have been found, detailed in research released earlier this year. Now new research, released this week, suggests that a number of these planets may well contain water.

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Scientists have just completed a study which has given a new information into both the atmosphere and surface of any star beyond our own solar system. The star in focus, quite literally, is a red supergiant known as Antares. This star is often also known as the ‘heart’ of the Scorpius constellation because as well as sitting in the middle of the constellation, Antares gives off a soft pink color, which can be seen with the naked eye.

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In a major new study released this week, scientists have just discovered that as the sun sets on the planet Mars, it is sometimes subjected to harsh snowstorms which batter the Red Planet.

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The idea of teleportation is no more just in sci-fi movies or fiction books, it has become a real-world phenomenon! Also called teletransportation, this power is defined as the transfer of energy without traveling any physical space.

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The possibility of launching small satellites into orbit has just become more of a reality thanks to Rocket Lab, a company pioneering the production of low cost rocket launches. The company has just successfully completed the maiden mission of their rocket, Electron.

Rocket Lab’s aim is a bold one – to remove the barriers of conventional missions into space, making it far easier to access low Earth orbits. Conventional launches can cost around $60 million however Rocket Lab suggests an Electron launch will cost users $5 million, a significant drop in price.

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Could radiation really encourage life in icy bodies or the ocean-planets of our solar system? Scientists at San Antonio’s University of Texas, in collaboration with the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) have welcomed the possibility of radioactive decay leading to the support of analogous microorganisms from resulting molecules.

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Many areas of the universe where stars form are also known to contain complex organic molecules. These molecules contain six or more atoms, with at least one of these being a carbon atom. A group of these complex organic molecules are known as prebiotics, the structures of which are closely linked to molecules essential for life, including amino acids and sugars.

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An international team of scientists, including those from The Ohio State University and Vanderbilt University have just released their research into a newly discovered planet with some extremely unusual features.

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Science is always surprising us, with new discoveries reminding us how much we still have to learn. Recently, a new feature of the northern lights was discovered, thanks to a group of citizen scientists.

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NASA has just announced further details about their new mission to fly into the sun’s atmosphere.

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Although the galaxy of Cygnus A might be around 800 million light years away, it provides one of the strongest sources of radio waves in our universe.

The Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope located in New Mexico has previously been used to observe Cygnus A since the telescope was built in the 1980s. Cygnus A was observed again by the same telescope in 1996 but after that it wasn’t observed again until 2015 after the telescope had been given an upgrade.

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In an earlier article, Evolving Science wrote about the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and their mission to scan for signs of life in the farthest reaches of our galaxy. Breakthrough Listen is the newest initiative by SETI to use radio telescopes to listen to our nearest galactic neighbors as well as distant galaxies. What they are listening for are narrow bandwidth signals that stick out from the background radiation of the universe, preferably from a star system that can support life.

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One of my favorite movies in the science genre is 1997’s Contact. The novel that it was based off was written by noted astrophysicist Carl Sagan and the movie had a good mix of fact and fantasy that actually seemed credible. Jodie Foster’s portrayal of Dr. Ellie Arroway, a scientist for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), was phenomenal.

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A new camera called Mosaic-3 is in place at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona, and is now halfway through completing a two-year mission to record images of far-off galaxies and stars. The upgraded camera now includes light sensors developed at the U.S Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, making it one of the best tools we have to study outer space.

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The Fermi bubbles were discovered as recently as 2010, and are comprised of two gamma-ray emitting bubbles expanding 25,000 light-years north and south of the black hole located at the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Whilst the nature and origin of the bubbles was poorly understood at first, astronomers now believe they are due to the release of gases the last time this black hole consumed a large amount of gas.

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Supermassive black holes are located in the centre of large galaxies. These black holes are millions of times larger than our own sun, and sustain their existence by ‘feeding’ off the gases around them. This activity can be observed using space telescopes, and is characterized as bright emissions, including x-rays, emanating from the innermost part of the disc surrounding the black hole.

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Much like seismologists use earthquakes to gain a better understanding of Earth, astronomers can also study the interior conditions of stars using an approach called asteroseismology. Using this technique it is possible to gain a better understanding of the evolution and structure of stars through studying their oscillations.