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The history of galaxies unravelled for the first time

27 August 2015 Astronomy Now

A team of international scientists, led by astronomers from Cardiff University, has shown for the first time that galaxies can change their structure over the course of their lifetime. The researchers have shown that a large proportion of galaxies have undergone a major ‘metamorphosis’ since they were initially formed after the Big Bang.

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Dying white dwarf star suffers “irregular heartbeats”

27 August 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers at the University of Warwick analysing data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft have discovered a unexpected anomaly in the ‘pulse’ of aging white dwarf star PG1149+057. In addition to the expected regular rhythm of pulsations, the researchers observed arrhythmic, massive outbursts, which significantly heated up the star’s surface for many hours.

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IRIS and Hinode: a stellar research team

26 August 2015 Astronomy Now

NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph satellite, or IRIS, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA)/NASA’s Hinode solar observatory, have just made a significant step towards understanding why the corona — the outermost, wispy layer of the Sun’s atmosphere — is hundreds of times hotter than the lower photosphere, which is the Sun’s visible surface.

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Dawn sends sharper scenes from dwarf planet Ceres

25 August 2015 Astronomy Now

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has delivered the closest-yet views of Ceres, showing the dwarf planet’s surface in unprecedented detail — including the small world’s mysterious four-mile-high conical mountain. At its current orbital altitude, Dawn takes 11 days to capture and return images of Ceres’ whole surface at a resolution of 450 feet (140 metres) per pixel.

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Research may solve Moon’s volcanic fire-fountain mystery

24 August 2015 Astronomy Now

Tiny beads of volcanic glass found on the lunar surface during the Apollo missions are a sign that fire fountain eruptions took place on the Moon’s surface. Now, scientists have identified the volatile gas that drove those eruptions. If volatile reservoirs on the Earth and Moon do indeed share a common source, it has implications for understanding the Moon’s origin.

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Origin of Saturn’s F Ring and its shepherd moons revealed

24 August 2015 Astronomy Now

Researchers at Kobe University have used computer models to reveal that Saturn’s F Ring and its shepherd satellites are a natural outcome of the final stage of the planet’s satellite system. This new finding is expected to help elucidate the formation of satellite systems both within and outside our solar system.

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The Milky Way’s tumultuous heart revealed in X-rays

21 August 2015 Astronomy Now

A newly released image from the ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray satellite observatory gives us a unprecedented look at the intense processes taking place at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy. The new study, which spans a thousand light-years, is a compilation of one and a half months of monitoring, revealing the powerful remnants of dead stars and their mighty action on the surrounding gas.

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Historic 24-inch Clark refractor to reopen at Lowell Observatory

20 August 2015 Astronomy Now

Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona is famous as the place where dwarf planet Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930, but it has an illustrious 121-year-old record of astronomical research and discovery. After a 20-month-long restoration project, Lowell’s historic 24-inch Alvan Clark refractor is poised to reopen for public observing sessions.