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astrophysics, cosmology, the universe...

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The dreadful beauty of Medusa

This beautiful planetary nebula is named after a dreadful creature from Greek mythology -- the Gorgon Medusa. It is also known as Sharpless 2-274 and is located in the constellation of [Gemini] (The Twins). The Medusa Nebula spans approximately four light-years and lies at a distance of about 1500 light-years. Despite its size it is extremely dim and hard to observe.

Posted: May 20th, 2015

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Comet Wild 2: A window into the birth of the solar system?

A team of scientists investigated the oxygen isotope and mineral composition of the comet dust returned from Wild 2. In a study published recently, the team discovered an unexpected combination of material that has deepened the mystery of Wild 2's past.

Posted: May 14th, 2015

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Hubble traces the migration of white dwarfs

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have, for the first time, collected a census of young white dwarf stars beginning their migration from the crowded centre of an ancient star cluster to its less populated outskirts. The new results challenge our ideas about how and when a star loses its mass near the end of its life.

Posted: May 14th, 2015

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Cause of galactic death: Strangulation

As murder mysteries go, it's a big one: how do galaxies die and what kills them? A new study has found that the primary cause of galactic death is strangulation, which occurs after galaxies are cut off from the raw materials needed to make new stars.

Posted: May 14th, 2015

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The dark side of star clusters

Observations with ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile have discovered a new class of 'dark' globular star clusters around the giant galaxy Centaurus A. These mysterious objects look similar to normal clusters, but contain much more mass and may either harbor unexpected amounts of dark matter, or contain massive black holes - neither of which was expected nor is understood.

Posted: May 13th, 2015

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Europa's mystery dark material could be sea salt

NASA laboratory experiments suggest the dark material coating some geological features of Jupiter's moon Europa is likely sea salt from a subsurface ocean, discolored by exposure to radiation. The presence of sea salt on Europa's surface suggests the ocean is interacting with its rocky seafloor - an important consideration in determining whether the icy moon could support life.

Posted: May 12th, 2015

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Probing the secrets of the universe inside a metal box

Record-smashing new shield creates a large volume with a magnetic field even smaller than that found in the depths of outer space, making certain types of searches for physics beyond the Standard Model possible for the first time.

Posted: May 12th, 2015

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