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Five key findings from 15 years of the International Space Station

The International Space Station is the longest-running continuously inhabited human outpost in space - this year it celebrated its 15th anniversary. As the ISS orbits the Earth it is essentially in a state of free fall, counteracting the Earth?s gravity and providing an ideal platform for science in space.

Posted: Dec 30th, 2015

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NuSTAR finds clumpy doughnut around black hole

NuSTAR recently looked inside one of the densest doughnuts known around a supermassive black hole. This black hole lies at the centre of a well-studied spiral galaxy called NGC 1068, located 47 million light-years away in the direction of the constellation of Cetus. The observations revealed a clumpy doughnut.

Posted: Dec 17th, 2015

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Space probes: sterile launch into outer space

Components used on a space mission must be cleaned meticulously. Fraunhofer researchers designed a cleanroom for the European Space Agency in which the most infinitesimal contaminants can be removed.

Posted: Dec 17th, 2015

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NASA's Fermi satellite kicks off a blazar-detecting bonanza (w/video)

A long time ago in a galaxy half the universe away, a flood of high-energy gamma rays began its journey to Earth. Observations provide a surprising look into the environment near a supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center and offer a glimpse into the state of the cosmos 7 billion years ago.

Posted: Dec 16th, 2015

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Alternative stellar lifestyle: Common, curious, solved at last

Half of all stars are in binaries - pairs of stars that orbit each other. Half of binary stars orbit so close that gravitational interaction significantly affects their evolution and demise. Today, scientists confirmed one of the possible explanations for a common group of exceptions: the blue stragglers.

Posted: Dec 8th, 2015

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What kinds of stars form rocky planets?

As astronomers continue to find more and more planets around stars beyond our own Sun, they are trying to discover patterns and features that indicate what types of planets are likely to form around different kinds of stars. This will hopefully inform and make more efficient the ongoing planet hunting process, and also help us better understand our own Solar System's formation.

Posted: Dec 3rd, 2015

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Earth-sized telescope finds clue to black hole growth

For the first time, astronomers have detected evidence of magnetic fields near Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, taking the study of black hole growth from theoretical expectation to empirical fact.

Posted: Dec 3rd, 2015

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Fermi-type acceleration of interstellar ions driven by high-energy lepton plasma flows

Stochastic acceleration and shock acceleration are well recognized as key mechanisms for cosmic ray generation since first proposed by Fermi. So far, these two mechanisms have been investigated widely by analytical models and numerical simulations, but often modeled separately. Researchers have found that the two mechanisms can occur naturally in sequential two stages when a lepton flow propagates in a background interstellar plasma.

Posted: Dec 2nd, 2015

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Exiled exoplanet likely kicked out of star's neighborhood

A planet discovered last year sitting at an unusually large distance from its star - 16 times farther than Pluto is from the sun - may have been kicked out of its birthplace close to the star in a process similar to what may have happened early in our own solar system's history.

Posted: Dec 1st, 2015

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