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How Martian moon Phobos became the ‘Death Star’

13 October 2016 Astronomy Now

The dominant feature on the surface of Mars’ largest satellite, Phobos, is Stickney — a 9-kilometre-wide mega crater that spans nearly half the moon. The crater lends Phobos a physical resemblance to the planet-destroying Death Star in the film “Star Wars.” But over the decades, understanding the formation of such a massive crater has proven elusive for researchers.

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‘Stealth dark matter’ theory may explain universe’s missing mass

25 September 2015 Astronomy Now

A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory team has combined theoretical and computational physics techniques using the Laboratory’s 2-petaflop Vulcan supercomputer to devise a new model of dark matter. They found that dark matter is “stealthy” today, but would have been easy to detect in the extremely high-temperature plasma conditions that pervaded the early universe.

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World’s most powerful telescope digital camera gets green light for construction

1 September 2015 Astronomy Now

The U.S. Department of Energy has approved the start of construction for a 3.2-gigapixel digital camera — the world’s largest — at the heart of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). Assembled at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the camera will be the eye of LSST, revealing unprecedented details of the universe and helping unravel some of its greatest mysteries.

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Crashing comets may explain mysterious lunar swirls

3 June 2015 Astronomy Now

Lunar swirls have been the source of debate for years. The twisting, swirling streaks of bright soil stretch, in some cases, for thousands of miles across the Moon’s surface. Brown University researchers have produced new evidence that they were created by several comet collisions over the last 100 million years.