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Latest Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Stories

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2009-01-06 08:55:00

Two new efforts have taken a famous supernova remnant from the static to the dynamic. A new movie of data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory shows changes in time never seen before in this type of object. A separate team will also release a dramatic three-dimensional visualization of the same remnant. Nearly ten years ago, Chandra's "First Light" image of Cassiopeia A (Cas A) revealed previously unseen structures and detail. Now, after eight years of observation, scientists have been able...

2008-12-16 12:29:00

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For the first time, astronomers have clearly seen the effects of "dark energy" on the most massive collapsed objects in the universe using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. By tracking how dark energy has stifled the growth of galaxy clusters and combining this with previous studies, scientists have obtained the best clues yet about what dark energy is and what the destiny of the universe could be. (Logo:...

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2008-12-16 13:10:00

For the first time, astronomers have clearly seen the effects of "dark energy" on the most massive collapsed objects in the universe using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. By tracking how dark energy has stifled the growth of galaxy clusters and combining this with previous studies, scientists have obtained the best clues yet about what dark energy is and what the destiny of the universe could be. This work, which took years to complete, is separate from other methods of dark energy research...

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2008-10-06 16:30:00

Boulder-sized Asteroid Will Burn Up in Earth's Atmosphere Tonight A tiny asteroid discovered just hours ago at an Arizona observatory will enter Earth's atmosphere harmlessly at approximately 10:46 p.m. Eastern time tonight (2:46 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time). There is no danger to people or property since the asteroid will not reach the ground. It is between 3 and 15 feet (1-5 m) in diameter and will burn up in the upper atmosphere, well above aircraft heights. A brilliant fireball will be...

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2008-08-22 12:45:00

Cambridge, MA - A new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope tells a tale of life and death, and reveals a rich family history. The striking infrared picture shows a colorful cosmic cloud, called W5, studded with multiple generations of blazing stars. It also provides dramatic new evidence that massive stars - through their brute winds and radiation - can trigger the birth of stellar newborns. "Triggered star formation continues to be very hard to prove," said Xavier Koenig of the...

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2007-12-06 16:11:56

Cambridge, MA - The Sun is minimally active right now, but this quiet state of affairs won't last for long. Over the next few years, the number of solar flares and eruptions known as coronal mass ejections will increase until reaching solar maximum in 2011 or 2012.  Such eruptions can impact Earth, disrupting satellites, communications, and even power grids. Some predict the next solar cycle will be the most intense in 50 years. As a result, scientists are striving to understand the...

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2007-03-21 12:15:00

Cambridge, MA -- Even though the sun is the closest star to Earth and has been studied for hundreds of years, it still holds surprises. The recently launched Hinode spacecraft is one of the latest observatories to probe the sun from afar. One of three instruments on board Hinode is the X-Ray Telescope (XRT), which was developed and built by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Already, stunning X-ray views from the XRT are surprising...

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2007-01-08 13:15:00

Seattle, WA - Astronomers have proposed an improved method of searching for intelligent extraterrestrial life using instruments like one now under construction in Australia. The Low Frequency Demonstrator (LFD) of the Mileura Wide-Field Array (MWA), a facility for radio astronomy, theoretically could detect Earth-like civilizations around any of the 1,000 nearest stars. "Soon, we may be eavesdropping on signals from Galactic civilizations," says theorist Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian...

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2006-10-31 12:20:00

Cambridge, MA - Just in time for Halloween, astronomers have taken a haunting new portrait of the sun. In this color-coded image from the Hinode spacecraft, the sun glows eerily orange as though celebrating with earthly spooks. The photograph shows the sun's corona - the top layer of the sun's atmosphere, a region of extremely rarefied gases heated to millions of degrees. During the current, quiet phase of solar activity (sunspot minimum), the corona is dominated by small regions of closed...

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2006-10-12 09:55:00

Cambridge, MA -- The 200 known planets that orbit other stars exhibit incredible variety. Among them are a handful of worlds that weigh between 5 and 15 times Earth. Astronomers believe these "super-Earths" are rocky iceballs rather than gas giants like Jupiter. While theorists can explain how such worlds form around Sun-like stars, the discovery of super-Earths around tiny red dwarf stars was surprising. New research suggests that some super-Earths build up rapidly when local temperatures...


Word of the Day
glogg
  • Scandinavian punch made of claret and aquavit with spices and raisins and orange peel and sugar.
This word comes from the Swedish 'glogg,' which is an alteration of 'glodgat,' mulled (wine).
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