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NASA'S Webb Telescope team completes optical milestone

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Ball Aerospace Technician Robin Russell inspects the Webb Telescope Aft Optics Subsystem during mirror integration activities. The Aft Optics bench, made of lightweight beryllium like the mirrors, holds Webb's tertiary and fine steering mirrors. The installed, gold-coated tertiary mirror can be seen in the background. (Credit: Photo courtesy Ball Aerospace)

Jan. 22, 2013 — Engineers working on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope met another milestone recently with they completed performance testing on the observatory's aft-optics subsystem at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp's facilities in Boulder, Colo. Ball is the principal subcontractor to Northrop Grumman for the optical technology and lightweight...

Betelgeuse braces for a collision: Red supergiant star to crash into dusty 'wall'

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Betelgeuse’s enigmatic environment: Composite colour image of the Herschel PACS 70, 100, 160 micron-wavelength images of Betelgeuse. North is to the top left, east is to the bottom left, and the image is about 25 arcminutes across. The star (centre) is surrounded by a clumpy envelope of material in its immediate vicinity. A series of arcs 6–7 arcminutes to the left of the star is material ejected from Betelgeuse as it evolved into a red supergiant star, shaped by its bow...

Did an 8th century gamma ray burst irradiate Earth?

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An artist’s impression of the merger of two neutron stars. Short duration gamma-ray bursts are thought to be caused by the merger of some combination of white dwarfs, neutron stars or black holes. Theory suggests that they are short lived as there is little dust and gas to fuel an ‘afterglow’. (Credit: NASA / Dana Berry)

Jan. 21, 2013 — A nearby short duration gamma-ray burst may be the cause of an intense blast of high-energy radiation that hit the...

New evidence indicates auroras occur outside our solar system

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Aurora crowns Jupiter's north pole. (Credit: NASA/ESA, John Clarke (University of Michigan))

Jan. 21, 2013 — University of Leicester planetary scientists have found new evidence suggesting auroras – similar to Earth’s Aurora Borealis - occur on bodies outside our solar system.

Auroras occur on several planets within our solar system, and the brightest - on Jupiter – are 100 times brighter than those on Earth. However, no auroras have yet been observed...

Microquasar makes a giant manatee nebula

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Left: W50 supernova remnant in radio (green) against the infrared background of stars and dust (red). Credits: Right: A Florida Manatee rests underwater in Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River, Florida. (Credit: Left: NRAO/AUI/NSF, K. Golap, M. Goss; NASA’s Wide Field Survey Explorer (WISE). Right: Image used with permission from Tracy Colson, courtesy of NRAO)

Jan. 19, 2013 — A new view of a 20,000-year old supernova remnant demonstrates the upgraded...

Nearby universe's 'cosmic fog' measured

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Cosmic history and opacity to gamma-rays at different periods, as measured by HESS and Fermi-LAT. The vertical axis of the graph shows opacity normalized to a reference model (Franceschini et al., 2008), while the horizontal axis shows the distances in light years of the blazars used for the measurements. The blue point on the left shows the range within which the Fermi measurements are statistically significant, and the red point on the right shows the measurements carried out by...

Saturn's largest moon Titan gets a dune 'makeover'

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This image taken with the Cassini radar instrument shows two craters on Titan: the crater Sinlap (left), which is a relatively 'fresh' crater, with a depth-to-diameter ratio close to what we see on Ganymede, and Soi (right), an extremely degraded crater, with a very small depth compared to similar craters on Ganymede. These craters are both about 80 km (almost 50 miles) in diameter. The Sinlap image was taken on Feb. 15, 2005. The Soi image is a mosaic of two images from May 21, 2009...

NASA beams Mona Lisa to Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at the moon

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To clean up transmission errors introduced by Earth's atmosphere (left), Goddard scientists applied Reed-Solomon error correction (right), which is commonly used in CDs and DVDs. Typical errors include missing pixels (white) and false signals (black). The white stripe indicates a brief period when transmission was paused. (Credit: Xiaoli Sun, NASA Goddard)

Jan. 17, 2013 — As part of the first demonstration of laser communication with a satellite at the moon...

Cheating to create the perfect simulation: Physicists on way to describing inside of neutron stars

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Jan. 17, 2013 — The planet Earth will die -- if not before, then when the Sun col­lapses. This is going to happen in approximately seven billion years. In the uni­verse however the death of suns and planets is an everyday occurance and our solar system partly consists of their remnants.

The end of stars -- suns -- rich in mass is often a neutron star. These "stars' liches" demonstrate a high density, in which atoms are extremely compressed. Such neutron stars are no bigger...