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Latest Spitzer Space Telescope Stories

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2010-05-21 06:40:00

Our sun may be an only child, but most of the stars in the galaxy are actually twins. The sibling stars circle around each other at varying distances, bound by the hands of gravity. How twin stars form is an ongoing question in astronomy. Do they start out like fraternal twins developing from two separate clouds, or "eggs"? Or do they begin life in one cloud that splits into two, like identical twins born from one egg? Astronomers generally believe that widely spaced twin, or binary, stars...

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2010-05-12 06:45:00

Astronomers are a bit like archeologists as they dig back through space and time searching for remnants of the early universe. In a recent deep excavation, courtesy of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers unearthed what may be the most distant, primitive cluster of galaxies ever found. In a twist, however, this apparent ancestor to today's "big cities" of grouped galaxies looks shockingly modern. Called CLG J02182-05102, the ancient cluster is dominated by old, red and massive...

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2010-05-10 11:35:00

Astronomers this summer will take a close look at a rare cosmic cradle for the universe's largest stars, baby bruisers that grow up to have 50 times the sun's mass. The international team of astronomers headed by University of Florida scientist Peter Barnes used an Australian radio telescope to find the cloud of gas and dust 8,000 light years away in the Southern sky constellation Carina. The cloud is in the early stages of collapsing in on itself, offering astronomers an unusual vista on the...

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2010-05-03 08:40:00

Using a CSIRO radio telescope, an international team of researchers has caught an enormous cloud of cosmic gas and dust in the process of collapsing in on itself "“ a discovery which could help solve one of astronomy's enduring conundrums: "ËœHow do massive stars form?' Dr Peter Barnes from the University of Florida says astronomers have a good grasp of how stars such as our Sun form from clouds of gas and dust, but for heavier stars "“ ten times the mass of the Sun or...

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2010-04-21 12:25:00

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered something odd about a distant planet -- it lacks methane, an ingredient common to many of the planets in our solar system. "It's a big puzzle," said Kevin Stevenson, a planetary sciences graduate student at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, lead author of a study appearing tomorrow, April 22 in the journal Nature. "Models tell us that the carbon in this planet should be in the form of methane. Theorists are going...

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2010-04-14 12:38:35

Astronomers have snapped a picture of three planets orbiting a star beyond our own using a modest-sized telescope on the ground. The surprising feat was accomplished by a team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., using a small portion of the Palomar Observatory's Hale Telescope, north of San Diego. The planets had been imaged previously by two of the world's biggest ground-based telescopes -- one of the two 10-meter (33-foot) telescopes of W.M. Keck Observatory and the...

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2010-04-08 13:50:00

A leggy cosmic creature comes out of hiding in this new infrared view from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The spiral beauty, called IC 342 and sometimes the "hidden galaxy," is shrouded behind our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Stargazers and professional astronomers have a hard time seeing the galaxy through the Milky Way's bright band of stars, dust and gas. WISE's infrared vision cuts through this veil, offering a crisp view. In a spiral galaxy like IC 342, dust and gas...

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2010-04-07 13:35:00

For the first time, astronomers have directly observed the mysterious dark companion in a binary star system that has puzzled skywatchers since the 19th century. Using an instrument developed at the University of Michigan, scientists have taken close-up pictures of Epsilon Aurigae during its eclipse, which happens every 27 years. "Close up" in this case is a relative term, but the images zoom in enough to show the shape of the dark object's shadow. "Seeing is believing," said John Monnier, an...

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2010-04-02 07:45:00

Astronomers have their eyes on a hot group of young stars, watching their every move like the paparazzi. A new infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the bustling star-making colony of the Orion nebula, situated in the hunter's sword of the famous constellation. Like Hollywood starlets, the cosmic orbs don't always shine their brightest, but vary over time. Spitzer is watching the stellar show, helping scientists learn more about why the stars change, and to what degree...

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2010-03-29 13:00:00

A new image from NASA's Chandra and Spitzer space telescopes shows the dusty remains of a collapsed star. The dust is flying past and engulfing a nearby family of stars. "Scientists think the stars in the image are part of a stellar cluster in which a supernova exploded," said Tea Temim of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass., who led the study. "The material ejected in the explosion is now blowing past these stars at high velocities." The composite image of...