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Jupiter’s Great Red Spot heats planet’s upper atmosphere

27 July 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers from Boston University have discovered that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot (GRS) may provide the mysterious source of energy required to heat the planet’s upper atmosphere to the unusually high values observed. Heating in Jupiter’s atmosphere 500 miles above the GRS is thought to be caused by gravity waves and acoustic waves creating turbulent atmospheric flows.

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Hubble captures vivid aurorae in Jupiter’s atmosphere

30 June 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers are using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to study aurorae — stunning light shows in a planet’s atmosphere — on the poles of the largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter. This observation program is supported by measurements made by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, shortly to arrive at the gas giant.

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Spectacular VLT images of Jupiter presented before Juno’s arrival

27 June 2016 Astronomy Now

In preparation for the imminent arrival of NASA’s Juno spacecraft, astronomers have used ESO’s Very Large Telescope to obtain spectacular new infrared images of Jupiter as part of a campaign to create high-resolution maps of the giant planet. These observations will help astronomers to better understand the gas giant ahead of Juno’s close encounter next month.

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Martian surface revealed in unprecedented detail

26 April 2016 Astronomy Now

The surface of Mars — including the location of Beagle-2 — has been shown in unprecedented detail by University College London scientists using a revolutionary image stacking and matching technique. The UCL researchers used the Super-Resolution Restoration (SRR) process to reveal objects at a resolution up to five times greater than previously achieved.

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How big can a black hole grow?

19 December 2015 Astronomy Now

Black holes at the heart of galaxies could swell to 50 billion times the mass of the Sun before losing the discs of gas they rely on to sustain themselves, according to research conducted by Professor Andrew King from the University of Leicester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

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Astronomers recall discovery of Phaethon — source of Geminid meteors

12 December 2015 Astronomy Now

The beautiful Geminid meteor shower is due to light up the heavens this weekend, but the source of the enigmatic cosmic display had eluded stargazers for more than 120 years. Then, in 1983, two University of Leicester astronomers — Dr. Simon Green and Dr. John Davies — used data from the IRAS satellite to discover 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid with a very unusual orbit.

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NASA’s Swift spots its thousandth gamma-ray burst

8 November 2015 Astronomy Now

NASA’s Swift spacecraft has detected its 1,000th gamma-ray burst (GRB). A GRB is a fleeting blast of high-energy light, often lasting a minute or less, occurring somewhere in the sky every couple of days. GRBs are the most powerful explosions in the universe, typically associated with the collapse of a massive star and the birth of a black hole.

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Scientists solve age-old planetary ring riddle

6 August 2015 Astronomy Now

An international team of scientists has solved an age-old scientific riddle by discovering that planetary rings, such as those orbiting Saturn, have a universally similar particle distribution. The study also suggests that Saturn’s rings are essentially in a steady state that does not depend on their history.

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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.