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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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Pulsar in stellar triple system makes unique gravitational laboratory

The discovery of a millisecond pulsar in a triple system with two white dwarfs gives astronomers the most precise tool yet for studying the gravitational three-body problem. In addition, the nature of the stars and their interactions may give an unprecedented clue that points toward a new theory of gravity compatible, unlike general relativity, with quantum theory.

Posted: Jan 6th, 2014

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Van Allen Probes shed light on decades-old mystery

New research using data from NASA's Van Allen Probes mission helps resolve decades of scientific uncertainty over the origin of ultra-relativistic electrons in Earth's near space environment, and is likely to influence our understanding of planetary magnetospheres throughout the universe.

Posted: Dec 20th, 2013

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Starless cloud cores reveal why some stars are bigger than others

Massive stars present an intriguing mystery: how do they grow so large when the vast majority of stars in the Milky Way are considerably smaller? To find the answer, astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope to survey the cores of some of the darkest, coldest, and densest clouds in our Galaxy to search for the telltale signs of star formation.

Posted: Dec 20th, 2013

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Find a star at Christmas

Scientists developed the 'Loss of the Night app' to quantify the illumination of the night sky caused by artificial light. The app, originally available in only German and English, has now been expanded to support 11 languages in order to get data from as many regions as possible.

Posted: Dec 20th, 2013

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