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Ocean currents shape Europa's icy shell in ways critical for potential habitats

In a finding of relevance to the search for life in our solar system, researchers have shown the subsurface ocean on Jupiter's moon Europa may have deep currents and circulation patterns with heat and energy transfers capable of sustaining biological life. The findings, summarized in this week's online edition of Nature Geosciences, are based on numerical models accounting for the formation of the chaos terrains, one of Europa's most prominent surface features.

Posted: Dec 3rd, 2013

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Hubble traces subtle signals of water on hazy worlds

Using the powerful eye of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, two teams of scientists have found faint signatures of water in the atmospheres of five distant planets. The presence of atmospheric water was reported previously on a few exoplanets orbiting stars beyond our solar system, but this is the first study to conclusively measure and compare the profiles and intensities of these signatures on multiple worlds.

Posted: Dec 3rd, 2013

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The mystery of neutron stars heats up

Until now, scientists were pretty sure they knew how the surface of a neutron star - a super dense star that forms when a large star explodes and its core collapses into itself - can heat itself up. However, research by a team of scientists led by a Michigan State University physicist has researchers rethinking that.

Posted: Dec 1st, 2013

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ESA project to map a billion stars in the Milky Way

The Milky Way Galaxy comprises hundreds of billions stars. An ambitious ESA project will map around a billion of these. The European funded GREAT network will train young researchers across Europe to help make sense of this wealth of data.

Posted: Nov 29th, 2013

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Fast, furious, refined: Smaller black holes can eat plenty

Gemini observations support an unexpected discovery in the galaxy Messier 101. A relatively small black hole (20-30 times the mass of our sun) can sustain a hugely voracious appetite while consuming material in an efficient and tidy manner - something previously thought impossible. The research also affects the long quest for elusive intermediate-mass black holes.

Posted: Nov 27th, 2013

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A fiery drama of star birth and death

The Large Magellanic Cloud is one of the closest galaxies to our own. Astronomers have now used the power of ESO's Very Large Telescope to explore one of its lesser known regions. This new image shows clouds of gas and dust where hot new stars are being born and are sculpting their surroundings into odd shapes. But the image also shows the effects of stellar death - filaments created by a supernova explosion.

Posted: Nov 27th, 2013

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Grant for the search for quantum space-time

The Dutch Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) has awarded a 1.2 million Euro grant to the research program 'Quantum gravity and the search for quantum spacetime', led by professor Renate Loll of Radboud University Nijmegen.

Posted: Nov 27th, 2013

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