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Earth-bound CHARIS samples atmospheric gases of exoplanets

11 November 2016 Astronomy Now

A team of scientists and engineers led by Princeton University researchers recently reported the successful operation of a new instrument for the 8.2-metre Subaru Telescope at the Mauna Kea Observatory on Hawaii that will allow astronomers to make direct observations and take spectra of planets orbiting nearby stars.

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Pluto’s interactions with the solar wind are unique

5 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Using data gathered by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on its Pluto flyby in July 2015, the dwarf planet has some characteristics less like that of a comet and more like much larger planets, according to the first analysis of Pluto’s unique interaction with the solar wind — the charged particles that spew off from the Sun into the solar system at a supersonic 1 million mph.

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Galaxy clusters reveal new dark matter insights

26 January 2016 Astronomy Now

Galaxy clusters, which consist of thousands of galaxies, are important for exploring dark matter because they reside in a region where such matter is much denser than average. Scientists believe that the heavier a cluster is, the more dark matter it has in its environment. But new research suggests the connection is more complicated than that.