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Canadian experiment to track space radiation and its risks

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Radi-N2 bubble detectors are filled with a gel, inside which are liquid droplets that help quantify neutron radiation inside the International Space Station (ISS). (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

Dec. 20, 2012 — Space can be a potentially hazardous environment to live and work in, especially when it comes to radiation. Originating from violent storms on the Sun and galactic cosmic rays produced in distant supernovae explosions, this natural radiation can pose a serious health risk for astronauts on long-duration space missions like those on the International Space Station (ISS).

Like a protective bubble, Earth's atmosphere and magnetosphere shields life on our planet from this never-ending bombardment...

Armchair science: Bag and tag glowing galactic clouds

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This is a screen shot from the Clouds game, a new addition to the Milky Way Project, where everyone can help astronomers sort and measure our galaxy. (Credit: Copyright 2010-2012 Zooniverse)

Dec. 20, 2012 — A new galactic game launches today that lets citizen scientists identify the glowing clouds where future stars will be born. The online experience, called Clouds, is a new addition to the Milky Way Project, where everyone can help astronomers to sort and measure...

Saturn mission: Cassini instrument learns new tricks

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This false-color composite image, constructed from data obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, shows Saturn's rings and southern hemisphere. The composite image was made from 65 individual observations by Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer in the near-infrared portion of the light spectrum on Nov. 1, 2008. The observations were each six minutes long. (Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

Dec. 20, 2012 — For seven years, a mini-fridge-sized...

Astronomy: Stars reveal the secret of aging well

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This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows NGC 6388, a dynamically middle-aged globular cluster in the Milky Way. While the cluster formed in the distant past (like all globular clusters, it is over ten billion years old), a study of the distribution of bright blue stars within the cluster shows that it has aged at a moderate speed, and its heaviest stars are in the process of migrating to the centre. A new study using Hubble data has discovered that globular clusters...

Closest single star like our sun may have habitable planet

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Artist’s impression of the Tau Ceti system. (Credit: J. Pinfield for the RoPACS network at the University of Hertfordshire, 2012)

Dec. 19, 2012 — An international team of astronomers led by the University of Hertfordshire has discovered that Tau Ceti, one of the closest and most Sun-like stars, may host five planets -- with one in the star's habitable zone.

At a distance of twelve light years and visible with the naked eye in the evening sky, Tau Ceti...

Shot away from its companion, giant star makes waves: Spitzer captures infrared portrait

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The giant star Zeta Ophiuchi is having a "shocking" effect on the surrounding dust clouds in this infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Stellar winds flowing out from this fast-moving star are making ripples in the dust as it approaches, creating a bow shock seen as glowing gossamer threads, which, for this star, are only seen in infrared light. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Dec. 18, 2012 — Like a ship plowing through still waters, the giant star Zeta...

From super to ultra: Just how big can black holes get?

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The black hole at the center of this galaxy is part of a survey of 18 of the biggest known black holes in the universe. This large elliptical galaxy is in the center of the galaxy cluster PKS 0745-19, which is shown in this composite image containing X-rays from Chandra (purple) and optical data from Hubble (yellow). Researchers found that some of the black holes in the survey may be about ten times more massive than previously thought. This includes ten that could weigh between 10...

Are we closing in on dark matter?

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Dec. 18, 2012 — This fall, the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago and the National Academy of Sciences organized a colloquium that brought together more than 100 cosmologists, particle physicists and observational astrophysicists -- three fields now united in the hunt to determine what is dark matter. Their goal: to take stock of the latest theories and findings about dark matter, assess just how close we are to detecting it and spark cross-disciplinary...

'Glitch’ in pulsar ‘glitch’ theory

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Background: The Vela supernova remnant at optical wavelengths, with location of the Vela pulsar indicated. Inset: Artist's impression of the pulsar’s interior, and the interaction between superfluid vortices and the nuclei that make up the star’s crust. (Credit: CTIO/AURA/NSF)

Dec. 18, 2012 — Researchers from the University of Southampton have called in to question a 40 year-old theory explaining the periodic speeding up or 'glitching' of...