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Outer Space

The intergalactic medium unveiled: Cosmic Web Imager directly observes ‘dim matter’

Comparison of Lyman alpha blob observed with Cosmic Web

Caltech astronomers have taken unprecedented images of the intergalactic medium (IGM) — the diffuse gas that connects galaxies throughout the universe — with the Cosmic Web Imager, an instrument designed and built at Caltech. Until now, the structure of the IGM has mostly been a matter for theoretical speculation. However, ...

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Asteroids cause dozens of nuclear-scale blasts in Earth’s atmosphere

chunk of the Chelyabinsk meteor in Russia in 2013.

Many explosions stronger than Hiroshima bomb but most occur too high above ground to cause serious damage Asteroids caused 26 nuclear-scale explosions in the Earth’s atmosphere between 2000 and 2013, a new report reveals. Some were more powerful – in one case, dozens of times stronger – than the atom ...

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First potentially habitable Earth-sized planet confirmed by Gemini and Keck observatories


The first Earth-sized exoplanet orbiting within the habitable zone of another star has been confirmed by observations with both the W. M. Keck Observatory and the Gemini Observatory. The initial discovery, made by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, is one of a handful of smaller planets found by Kepler and verified ...

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Cosmic slurp: Supercomputers help astronomers understand and predict how black holes swallow stars

Black hole

Somewhere in the cosmos an ordinary galaxy spins, seemingly at slumber. Then all of a sudden, WHAM! A flash of light explodes from the galaxy’s center. A star orbiting too close to the event horizon of the galaxy’s central supermassive black hole is torn apart by the force of gravity, ...

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Saturn’s hexagon: An amazing phenomenon

colorful view from NASA's Cassini mission

An unusual structure with a hexagonal shape surrounding Saturn’s north pole was spotted on the planet for the first time thirty years ago. Nothing similar with such a regular geometry had ever been seen on any planet in the Solar System. The Planetary Sciences Group has now been able to ...

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