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November 2013
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Half of All Sun-Like Stars are in Multiple-Star Systems --New Theory of Formation

 

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Astronomers know that about half of all Sun-like stars are members of double or multiple-star systems, but have debated over how such systems are formed. Using the new capabilities of the upgraded Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), scientists have discovered previously-unseen binary companions to a pair of very young protostars. The discovery gives strong support for one of the competing explanations for how double-star systems form.

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Clouds Detected on Alien Planet --New Hubble Discovery

 

 

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Weather forecasters on exoplanet GJ 1214b would have an easy job. Today's forecast: cloudy. Tomorrow: overcast. Extended outlook: more clouds. A team of scientists led by researchers in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago report they have definitively characterized the atmosphere of a super-Earth class planet orbiting another star for the first time.

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"Entire Solar Systems are Needed to Kick-Start Life" (A 2013 Most Popular)



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Solar systems are needed to generate life, not just terrestrial planets with water. Life probably needs a solar system similar to our own to start, although autogenic processes --where something in life is created spontaneously with self assembly-- could still occur in a system that only has gas giants.

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Image of the Day: "A Massive Electric-Blue 'Geophysical Light Bulb' Over Antarctica"

 

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Data from NASA's AIM spacecraft show that noctilucent clouds are like a great "geophysical light bulb." They turn on every year in late spring, reaching almost full intensity over a period of no more than 5 to 10 days. As December unfolds, a vast bank of noctilucent clouds is blanketing Antarctica. Noctilucent clouds--or "NLCs" for short--are Earth's highest clouds. Seeded by disintegrating meteoroids, they form at the edge of space 83 km above Earth's surface. When sunlight hits the tiny ice crystals that make up these clouds, they appear to glow electric blue. It started on Nov. 20th as a tiny puff of electric-blue and quickly expanded to overlie nearly the entire continent. AIM is monitoring the progress of the clouds as they swirl and ripple around the south pole.

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NASA: Natural-Color Images of Saturn, Titan and Enceladus --"One of the Most Accessible Extraterrestrial Habitable Zones in the Solar System"

 

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"Until Cassini arrived at Saturn, we didn't know about the hydrocarbon lakes of Titan, the active drama of Enceladus' jets, and the intricate patterns at Saturn's poles," said Linda Spilker, the Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Spectacular images like these highlight that Cassini has given us the gift of knowledge, which we have been so excited to share with everyone."

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Our Holographic Universe --A New Theory of Space-Time (2013 Most Popular)

 

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Researchers at the University of Southampton have taken a significant step in a project to unravel the secrets of the structure of our Universe. One of the main recent advances in theoretical physics is the holographic principle. According to this idea, our Universe may be thought of as a hologram and we would like to understand how to formulate the laws of physics for such a holographic Universe.

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"Human Brain Develops in Distinct Stages of Genetic Activity" --New Discovery

 

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The human brain develops with an exquisitely timed choreography marked by distinct patterns of gene activity at different stages from the womb to adulthood, report Yale researchers. The Yale team conducted a large-scale analysis of gene activity in cerebral neocortex —an area of the brain governing perception, behavior, and cognition — at different stages of development.

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"Most Popular Image of 2013" --A Spectacular Meteor Streaking Through the Aurora Borealis

 

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The glorious pyrotechnics of the "Northern Lights" get their start about 93 million miles away, on the sun. An aurora borealis (aurora australis in the Southern Hemisphere) is precipitated by explosions on the surface of the sun, sometimes starting as solar flares, according to Robert Nemiroff, an astrophysicist at Michigan Technological University.

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The Largest Structure in the Universe Spans 4 Billion Light Years --"Nixes Accepted Theory" (2013 Most Popular)

 

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The largest known structure in the universe, "large quasar group" (LQG), challenges the Cosmological Principle, the assumption that the universe, when viewed at a sufficiently large scale, looks the same no matter where you are observing it from. The modern theory of cosmology is based on the work of Albert Einstein, and depends on the assumption of the Cosmological Principle. The principle is assumed but has never been demonstrated observationally 'beyond reasonable doubt.'

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