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December 2013
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"Kepler Object of Interest" --A Major Step in the Search for a Twin Solar System (Today's Most Popular)

 

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This past December, a team of European astrophysicists discovered the most extensive planetary system to date, orbiting star KOI-351. The star system has seven planets, more than in other known planetary systems arranged in a similar fashion to the eight planets in the Solar System, with small rocky planets close to the parent star and gas giant planets at greater distances.

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NASA Sued for Failure to Examine 'Sudden' Appearance of a White Rock as Evidence of Life on Mars

 

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Earlier this week NASA reported that it was being sued because the space agency had failed to conduct a proper examination of a white rock as "life" on Mars, which had mysteriously appeared in front of the Opportunity rover. The lawsuit alleges that NASA did not properly examine the object well enough to conclude that it was "just" a rock. NASA said the appearance of the rock was caused by the nearby impact that sent the rock toward the rover, or, most likely, Opportunity knocked the rock from the ground and no one noticed until later.

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"Rogue Asteroids the Norm in Our Solar System" --MIT & Paris Observatory

 

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In the 1980s, scientists' view of the solar system's asteroids was essentially static: Asteroids that formed near the sun remained near the sun; those that formed farther out stayed on the outskirts. But in the last decade, astronomers have detected asteroids with compositions unexpected for their locations in space: Those that looked like they formed in warmer environments were found further out in the solar system, and vice versa. Scientists considered these objects to be anomalous "rogue" asteroids.

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1st Cloud Map Created for 3rd Closest Star System to Earth

 

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The closest brown dwarfs to the Solar System form a pair called Luhman 16AB that lies just six light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Vela (The Sail). The distance to this brown dwarf pair is 6.5 light years – so close that Earth’s television transmissions from 2006 are now arriving there. This pair is the third closest system to the Earth, after Alpha Centauri and Barnard's Star, but it was only discovered in early 2013. The distance to this brown dwarf pair is 6.5 light years – so close that Earth’s television transmissions from 2006 are now arriving there.The fainter component, Luhman 16B, had already been found to be changing slightly in brightness every few hours as it rotated -- a clue that it might have marked surface features. 

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Jupiter Once Migrated Causing Massive Disruption to the Solar System

 

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Jupiter may have once been as close to the Sun as Mars is now, and as it migrated through the main asteroid belt to its current position, it played a role is nearly wiping the asteroid belt clean, leaving behind only one-tenth of a percent of the original material in the belt but also bringing in material from the far reaches of the solar system, according to a new report from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

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Enigma Solved? "The Early Universe had Enormously Massive and Already Old Galaxies"

 

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It has long puzzled scientists that there were enormously massive galaxies that were already old and no longer forming new stars in the very early universe, approx. 3 billion years after the Big Bang. Now new research from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, shows that these massive galaxies were formed by explosive star formation that was set in motion by the collision of galaxies a few billion years after the Big Bang.

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"Massive Stars Dominate the Evolution of Their Galaxies"

 

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"Massive stars dominate the lives of their host galaxies through their ionizing radiation and supernova explosions," said Mordecai-Mark Mac Low, a curator in the American Museum of Natural History's Department of Astrophysics and an author on the paper. "All the elements heavier than iron were formed in the supernova explosions occurring at the ends of their lives, so without them, life on Earth would be very different."

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Never-Before-Seen River of Hydrogen Flowing through Intergalactic Space

 

 

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Using the National Science Foundation’s Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), astronomer D.J. Pisano from West Virginia University has discovered what could be a never-before-seen river of hydrogen flowing through space. This very faint, very tenuous filament of gas is streaming into the nearby galaxy NGC 6946 and may help explain how certain spiral galaxies keep up their steady pace of star formation.

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Recognizing Extraterrestrial Intelligence --“There Could be Life and Intelligence Out There in Forms We Can’t Conceive"

 

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“They could be staring us in the face and we just don’t recognize them. The problem is that we’re looking for something very much like us, assuming that they at least have something like the same mathematics and technology."

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NASA Zooms in on Total Destruction of a White Dwarf Star

 

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An exceptionally close stellar explosion discovered on Jan. 21 has become the focus of observatories around and above the globe, including several NASA spacecraft. The blast, designated SN 2014J, occurred in the galaxy M82 and lies only about 12 million light-years away. This makes it the nearest optical supernova in two decades and potentially the closest type Ia supernova to occur during the life of currently operating space missions.

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