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NASA’s New Horizons sees more detail as it draws closer to Pluto

28 May 2015 Astronomy Now

What a difference 20 million miles makes! Images of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons are growing in scale as the spacecraft approaches its mysterious target. The new images, taken May 8th-12th using a powerful telescopic camera and downlinked last week, reveal more detail about Pluto’s complex and high contrast surface.

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Faint galaxies found hiding in the Virgo Cluster

27 May 2015 Astronomy Now

A recent survey using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope has discovered hundreds of new galaxies in the Virgo Cluster, the nearest large cluster of galaxies. Most are extremely faint dwarf galaxies, objects hundreds of thousands of times less massive than our Milky Way, and amongst the faintest galaxies known in the universe.

NASA's reworked image of Europa based on late 1990s data from the Galileo spacecraft.
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Science instruments selected for NASA’s Europa mission

27 May 2015 Astronomy Now

NASA has selected nine science instruments for a future mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa in which a spacecraft would make multiple close flybys of the icy world — thought to contain a global subsurface ocean — to investigate whether the mysterious moon could harbour conditions suitable for life.

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Dragonfly’s compound ‘eye’ reveals very faint galaxy structure

26 May 2015 Astronomy Now

At CASCA 2015, Roberto Abraham from the University of Toronto describes the first results from the Dragonfly Telephoto Array — an innovative, multi-lens system designed to produce digital images of ultra-low surface brightness objects at visible wavelengths — that is at least ten times more efficient than its nearest rival.

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Galaxy’s cannibalistic snacking habits revealed

23 May 2015 Astronomy Now

A team of Australian and Spanish astronomers have caught a greedy galaxy gobbling on its neighbours and leaving crumbs of evidence about its dietary past. Their successful and novel approach to investigating how galaxies grow is being used in a new program to further refine the best models of galaxy evolution.

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WISE discovery of the most luminous galaxy in the universe

22 May 2015 Astronomy Now

A remote galaxy shining with the light of more than 300 trillion suns has been discovered using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). It is the most luminous galaxy found to date and belongs to a new class of objects — extremely luminous infrared galaxies, or ELIRGs.

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Supernova observed colliding with its companion star

20 May 2015 Astronomy Now

Type Ia supernovae are violent stellar explosions that shine as some of the brightest objects in the universe, but there are still many mysteries surrounding their origin. Now a team of astronomers have witnessed a supernova smashing into a nearby star, shocking it, and creating an ultraviolet glow that reveals the size of the companion.

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Citizen-funded CubeSat ready to go solar sailing

20 May 2015 Stephen Clark

A shoebox-sized satellite conceived and funded by members of the Planetary Society, an advocacy organization co-founded by Carl Sagan, is fastened to an Atlas 5 rocket for launch to test one of the late celebrity-astronomer’s futuristic concepts for exploring the cosmos.

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Newly dedicated observatory to search for gravitational waves

20 May 2015 Astronomy Now

Seeking to expand how we observe and understand phenomena such as supernovae and colliding black holes that generate gravitational waves, the National Science Foundation has just dedicated the Advanced Laser Gravitational Wave Observatories (Advanced LIGO) in Richland, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana.