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Sunday, September 20, 2020
Close-up shots of the Sun reveal popcorn-like sunspots

Close-up shots of the Sun reveal popcorn-like sunspots

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A sight for sore eyes Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgandy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries. ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road The GREGOR telescope, the largest solar telescope…
Space telescopes are great — so why do we still build ground-based ones?

Space telescopes are great — so why do we still build...

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This is a bit warped Just as the Hubble Space Telescope was starting its mission at the beginning of the 1990’s, adaptive optics were developed — a technology that removes much of the image wavering caused by the atmosphere, using a small, deformable mirror. Distortions from a point of light (like a star) are measured, and the…
Alien-human hybrids are unlikely but not impossible, scientists say

Alien-human hybrids are unlikely but not impossible, scientists say

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What separates species if not their physical appearance? We separate species based on their reproductive compatibility. According to the biological definition of species, two organisms belong to the same species if they can interbreed to produce viable, fertile offspring. To explore this concept a little further, let’s take the mule as an example — the…
A weirdly warped planet-forming disk circles a distant trio of stars

A weirdly warped planet-forming disk circles a distant trio of stars

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In one of the most complex cosmic dances astronomers have yet spotted, three rings of gas and dust circle a trio of stars. The star system GW Orionis, located about 1,300 light-years away in the constellation Orion, includes a pair of young stars locked in a close do-si-do with a third star making loops around…
Astronomers think our Sun may have a long lost twin

Astronomers think our Sun may have a long lost twin

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A cloud made of mountains At the edge of our family of planets lies the Kuiper Belt — a doughnut shaped halo of icy objects including the dwarf planet Pluto. This belt, now being explored by spacecraft for the first time, is also home to short-period comets that journey to the inner solar system roughly once…
Researchers propose a supernova triggered the Late Devonian mass extinction

Researchers propose a supernova triggered the Late Devonian mass extinction

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Enlarge / The Cassiopeia A supernova which left this remnant behind occurred about 11,000 light years away—much too far to pose a significant threat—and its wavefront likely reached Earth about 300 years ago. A paper released this week by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign astronomy and physics professor Brian Fields makes a case for distant supernovae as…
Red giant star Betelgeuse dimmed because it ‘sneezed,’ astronomers explain

Red giant star Betelgeuse dimmed because it ‘sneezed,’ astronomers explain

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Ultraviolet light reveals dark secrets The Hubble Space Telescope — with its ability to see in ultraviolet wavelengths — provides astronomers a unique tool to examine the Universe. As anyone who as seen glowing metal can attest, materials predominantly give off a range of colors as they heat. Using this knowledge, astronomers are able to…
Jupiter’s atmosphere is regulated by ammonia storms, research reveals

Jupiter’s atmosphere is regulated by ammonia storms, research reveals

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Prior to the arrival of the Juno spacecraft at Jupiter, astronomers had noted lower-than-expected levels of ammonia in the upper atmosphere of the giant world. Following the arrival of Juno at Jupiter in July 2016, astronomers found higher concentrations of ammonia near the center of the planet than was seen closer to the poles. These…
A time traveler’s guide to the end of the universe

A time traveler’s guide to the end of the universe

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In this series we’ll take a science and technology-based overhead view of the future from the perspective of a time traveler. This edition focuses on what you’d see if you traveled far enough into the future to watch the universe end. So you’ve decided to visit the end of the universe? Well, bully for you.…
Paradoxically, white dwarf stars shrink as they gain mass

Paradoxically, white dwarf stars shrink as they gain mass

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Telescope observations have confirmed a weird property of white dwarf stars: As they pack on more mass, they shrink in size. White dwarfs, the stripped cores of dead stars, are thought to have this counterintuitive quality because they contain an exotic material called degenerate electron gas. The more massive a white dwarf, the tighter its…

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