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View Pluto’s bladed terrain in 3-D

2 April 2016 Astronomy Now

One of the strangest landforms spotted by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft when it flew past Pluto was the “bladed” terrain formally named Tartarus Dorsa. The blades reach hundreds of feet high and are typically spaced a few miles apart. No geology degree is necessary to see why the terrain is so interesting — just grab your red and green 3-D spectacles.

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Andromeda Galaxy’s first spinning neutron star found

2 April 2016 Astronomy Now

Decades of searching in the Andromeda Galaxy has finally paid off, with the discovery of an elusive breed of stellar corpse — a neutron star, by ESA’s XMM-Newton space telescope. Neutron stars are the small and extraordinarily dense remains of a once-massive star that exploded as a powerful supernova at the end of its natural life.

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A planet is forming in an Earth-like orbit around a young star

2 April 2016 Astronomy Now

Discs of dust and gas that surround young stars are the formation sites of planets. New images from the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) reveal never-before-seen details in the planet-forming disc around a nearby Sun-like star, including a tantalising gap at the same distance from the star as the Earth is from the Sun.

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Global Astronomy Month begins 1 April

1 April 2016 Astronomy Now

Global Astronomy Month (GAM), organised each April by Astronomers Without Borders, is the world’s largest annual global celebration of astronomy. Each GAM brings new ideas and new opportunities, and GAM 2016 is no exception, once again bringing enthusiasts together worldwide to celebrate Astronomers Without Borders’ motto: One People, One Sky.

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Hubble peers into the heart of the Milky Way

1 April 2016 Astronomy Now

Peering deep into the heart of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, the Hubble Space Telescope reveals a rich tapestry of more than half a million stars. Most of the stars pictured in the image are members of the Milky Way nuclear star cluster, the densest and most massive star cluster in the galaxy. Hidden in the centre is the Milky Way’s resident supermassive black hole.

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Moon thought to play major role in maintaining Earth’s magnetic field

1 April 2016 Astronomy Now

The Earth’s magnetic field is produced by the geodynamo, the rapid motion of huge quantities of liquid iron alloy in the Earth’s outer core. A team of French researchers suggests that elastic deformation of our planet’s mantle due to tidal effects caused by the Moon — overlooked until now — transfers energy to the Earth’s outer core, keeping the geodynamo active.