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Latest Spitzer Space Telescope Stories

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2010-12-07 08:52:54

Written by: Josh Rodgriguez, NASA/JPL The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer has taken its first images of the star Beta Peg in the constellation Pictor -- an encouraging start for an instrument designed to probe the cosmic neighborhoods where Earth-like planets could exist. Eight years in development, the NASA-funded instrument combines beams of light from twin 8.4-meter (28-foot) mirrors mounted atop the Large Binocular Telescope on Mount Graham, Ariz. "By combining the light of the...

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2010-11-24 14:24:23

Astronomers have caught sight of an unusual galaxy that has illuminated new details about a celestial "sandbar" connecting two massive islands of galaxies. The research was conducted in part with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. These "sandbars," or filaments, are known to span vast distances between galaxy clusters and form a lattice-like structure known as the cosmic web. Though immense, these filaments are difficult to see and study in detail. Two years ago, Spitzer's infrared eyes revealed...

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2010-11-13 07:55:00

By Dauna Coulter - Science @ NASA Did you know that the Earth has a dust tail? The Spitzer Space Telescope sailed right through it a few months ago, giving researchers a clear idea of what it looks like. That could be a big help to planet hunters trying to track down alien worlds. "Planets in distant solar systems probably have similar dust tails," says Spitzer project scientist Mike Werner. "And in some circumstances these dust features may be easier to see than the planets themselves. So...

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2010-10-27 14:25:00

Astronomers have discovered bucket loads of buckyballs in space. They used NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to find the little carbon spheres throughout our Milky Way galaxy -- in the space between stars and around three dying stars. What's more, Spitzer detected buckyballs around a fourth dying star in a nearby galaxy in staggering quantities -- the equivalent in mass to about 15 of our moons. Buckyballs, also known as fullerenes, are soccer-ball-shaped molecules consisting of 60 linked carbon...

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2010-10-19 13:45:00

Observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope reveal a distant planet with a warm spot in the wrong place. The gas-giant planet, named upsilon Andromedae b, orbits tightly around its star, with one face perpetually boiling under the star's heat. It belongs to a class of planets termed hot Jupiters, so called for their scorching temperatures and large, gaseous constitutions. One might think the hottest part of these planets would be directly under the sun-facing side, but previous...

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2010-09-24 06:30:00

Astronomers have discovered a new, cosmic phenomenon, termed "coreshine," which is revealing new information about how stars and planets come to be. The scientists used data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to measure infrared light deflecting off cores -- cold, dark cocoons where young stars and planetary systems are blossoming. This coreshine effect, which occurs when starlight from nearby stars bounces off the cores, reveals information about their age and consistency. In a new paper,...

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2010-09-02 14:20:00

New research from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope reveals that asteroids somewhat near Earth, termed near-Earth objects, are a mixed bunch, with a surprisingly wide array of compositions. Like a piñata filled with everything from chocolates to fruity candies, these asteroids come in assorted colors and compositions. Some are dark and dull; others are shiny and bright. The Spitzer observations of 100 known near-Earth asteroids demonstrate that the objects' diversity is...

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2010-08-30 09:10:00

The Spitzer Space Telescope is now taking aim at the outer reaches of the Milky Way and helping two Iowa State University astronomers advance their star studies. Massimo Marengo, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, is using data from Spitzer's infrared telescope to study big, cool-temperature stars and the dusty disks that forms around these and other stars as their planetary systems evolve. He is a co-author of a new paper that describes how tight double-star systems could be...

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2010-08-23 14:55:00

Tight double-star systems might not be the best places for life to spring up, according to a new study using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The infrared observatory spotted a surprisingly large amount of dust around three mature, close-orbiting star pairs. Where did the dust come from? Astronomers say it might be the aftermath of tremendous planetary collisions. "This is real-life science fiction," said Jeremy Drake of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge,...

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2010-08-11 08:22:51

The chemical breakdown of minerals that may be lurking in space dust soon will be available to scientists around the world. Because space dust contains the basic ingredients that form planets, the University of Central Florida physicists' analysis could provide important clues about how the solar system formed and how life emerged. For decades, astrophysicists have been studying these clouds of dust, which contain ices, silicate minerals and iron compounds. But until the UCF team started...