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A cosmic winter wonderland

22 December 2016 Astronomy Now

Although there are no seasons in space, this cosmic vista invokes thoughts of a frosty winter landscape. It is, in fact, a region called NGC 6357 where radiation from hot, young stars is energizing the cooler gas in the cloud that surrounds them.

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Crash course?

20 December 2016 Astronomy Now

It may look as though Saturn’s moon Mimas is crashing through the rings in this image taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, but Mimas is actually 45,000 kilometres (28,000 miles) away from the rings.

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Cassini beams back first images from new orbit

9 December 2016 Astronomy Now

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has sent to Earth its first views of Saturn’s atmosphere since beginning the latest phase of its mission. The new images show scenes from high above Saturn’s northern hemisphere, including the planet’s intriguing hexagon-shaped jet stream.

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It’s chaos at Saturn’s moon Hyperion

5 December 2016 Astronomy Now

The moon Hyperion tumbles as it orbits Saturn. Hyperion’s spin axis has a chaotic orientation in time, meaning that it is essentially impossible to predict how the moon will be spinning in the future.

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Could there be life in Pluto’s ocean?

4 December 2016 Astronomy Now

Pluto is thought to possess a subsurface ocean, which is not so much a sign of water as it is a tremendous clue that other dwarf planets in deep space also may contain similarly exotic oceans, naturally leading to the question of life, said one co-investigator with NASA’s New Horizon.