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Stars

  1. Space

    Miserable Alien Life is Possible Around Bigger, Brighter and Hotter Stars

    Move over sun, there may be a bigger star to steal the spotlight. Recent studies suggest that hotter and brighter stars are capable of providing the right conditions to form life.

    Read on...
  2. Space

    Four Super Ancient Galaxy Clusters Have Been Found Hanging Out Billions of Light-Years Away

    By combining the data from the Planck and Herschel satellites, four super old galaxies clusters were recently discovered, and by super old, we mean 10 billion light-years away. They're galaxy clusters, which means that they're a massive cloud of other galaxies.

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  3. Space

    Astronomers Have Found One Of The Largest Stars In The Milky Way, And It’s Still Forming

    If Hercules hadn't been made into a constellation, he would probably have been reborn in space as a recently discovered star: the largest one ever spotted in the Milky Way. A group of astronomers found the embryonic star, which is still forming inside of a huge cloud about 10,000 light years away from Earth, using the ultra-powerful ALMA(Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array) telescope. Now that they're getting a good look at the massive star, researchers have been able to learn some new lessons about how stars this size are born.

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  4. Space

    A Disturbance in the Force: Flare Star Becomes 15 Times Brighter In Less Than Three Minutes

    Space flares are so friggin' cool. Well, not literally, because they are giant eruptions of heat and light, but you get my meaning. Case in point? Astrophysicists at the University of Santiago do Compostela in Spain, along with the Byurakan Observatory in Amernia, detected a low-intensity star letting out a flare so strong it became almost 15 times brighter in a matter of minutes. You know that feeling you get when you wake up in the middle of the night and almost blind yourself with your phone while checking the time? Imagine that, but, like, times a billion. In space.

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  5. Space

    New Type of Itty-Bitty Stellar Explosion Discovered

    We love explosions, don't we? Especially when they're a) on TV or b) very far away from us. In this case, crazy far away, because I'm talking about supernovas -- those spectacular events wherein a star dies and then has a cosmic funeral in the form of a massive explosion visible to the edge of the universe itself. Now astronomers have discovered a new variety of stellar explosion that's...much smaller. It's potentially even adorable. A kind of supernova that is so weak that the star itself survives it.

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  6. Science

    Dung Beetles Know Where to Roll Their Dung Balls by Watching the Stars, Milky Way

    Oscar Wilde famously wrote "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars," and it turns out he might have really hit the nail on the head. After all, you don't get much more in the gutter than dung beetles, a species of insect famed for making balls of other animals droppings, and it turns out those humble creatures are avid stargazers. In fact, without a night sky and the Milky Way above them, the insects seem to get lost and are unable to move in a straight line.

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  7. Space

    Dark Clouds and Bright Lights: New ESO Images of Star Nursery Lupus 3

    Full disclosure -- there is very little we like waking up to better than pretty pictures of space. There's just something really soothing about images that are simultaneously extremely gorgeous and throw into stark relief our astonishing insignificance in the cosmic scheme of things -- it just makes us want to crawl right back under the covers in the best possible way. It's in this spirit that we bring you this latest picture from the European Southern Observatory's MPG/ESO telescope -- the best image ever captured of Lupus 3, a star forming cloud some 600 light-years from Earth that you can take a closer look at in the video below.

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  8. Space

    Neighboring Star is the Oldest Known and the Silver Fox of the Universe

    Some of the oldest celestial bodies in our known universe are stars. And we don't mean that name-forgetting and license-revoking kind of old, we're talking about way before the first single-cell organism decided to start splitting in that puddle of primordial ooze. But for all our technological advancements in the field of astronomy, it can be difficult at times to accurately pinpoint the exact age of a particular star, since such efforts can take exhaustive years of constant analysis. Over an eight year period between 2003 to 2011 utilizing the Hubble Space Telescope’s Fine Guidance Sensors, astronomers have concluded that the star designated HD 140283 is the oldest star out in space -- and even more surprising is the fact that neighbors our very solar system.

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  9. Space

    Researchers Observe Planet Swallowed by Star, Offer Terrifying Sneak Preview of Earth’s Fate

    We all have plenty of things to worry about and be frightened by in the course of a given day. Paying the bills, getting to work on time, making sure we don't step in front of a bus while texting. Apparently, though, researchers at Penn State University think we could all use one more thing to have anxiety over: The Earth will eventually be swallowed by our own slowly dying sun, just as the red giant star BD+48 740 did to one of its planets. It's the first time that astronomers have been able to observe, in some way, the consumption of a planet by its aging star. Sure, that fate is probably 5 billion years in the future for the Earth, when we'll all be long in the ground, but knowing it certainly doesn't make us sleep any more soundly right now.

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  10. Space

    Astronomers Discover Red Dwarf Stars With Impossibly Close Orbits

    We may not know everything about the universe, but we have made a lot of observations and drawn some pretty good conclusions from them. One such conclusion was that binary stars could not have orbits under five hours, lest they fuse into one body. However, a new study focusing on dim red dwarf stars has shattered this notion, and may very well challenge our whole notion of how binary stars form.

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  11. Space

    As The Earth Turns [Video]

    What does the night sky look like from Earth's point of view? It seems like an obvious question since well, we are on Earth and capable of looking up. But what the night sky looks like as the Earth rotates over time is a particular point of view not often captured on film. Most time lapse footage of the night sky shows the sky and stars moving above Earth, rather than Earth moving below.

    But now, YouTube user bulletpeople has taken footage by Stephane Guisard and Jose Francisco Salgado shot at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) observatory and modified it so that the Earth itself moves. The VLT is located in the Cerro Paranal, II Region of Chile and is home to four of the largest optical telescopes in the world. The modified video lets users see what the night sky would look like from Earth's point of view, sped up over time.

    (Bad Astronomy via NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day)

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  12. Space

    Space Telescope Protectected by SPF 1,000,000 Shield

    Though it is still two to three years away from launch, the James Webb Space Telescope is shaping up to be a technological wonder. Once in place, it will be the first optical telescope in orbit and will sport a primary mirror six times larger than that of the Hubble, seeing further and clearer using infrared optics. But to do all that, the Webb telescope will use a massive sunshield the size of a tennis court. The Webb sunshield will consist of five separate layers of Kapton, folded at launch and then stretched over 20 x 12 meters. The mutliple layers of this strong, durable film are what give the sunshield its amazing properties:
    Once on orbit, the sunshield creates a 330 K (243°F to -351°F) temperature differential between the hottest and coldest layers. Using multiple separated layers allows most of a layer’s heat to radiate to space before it reaches the next one creating a substantial temperature drop from one layer to the next.
    All together, these layers give the sunshield an effective Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 1,000,000, according to the Deputy Project Manager for the telescope, John Durning. Such protection is necessary as the onboard infrared systems are sensitive to heat, and must be kept at very low temperatures -- under -370 F, or 50 K. Though the pictures from visible light telescopes are beautiful, many are limited because the visible spectrum of light cannot penetrate the dust and gas that floats around the galaxy. With the Webb telescope, scientist will see some of the oldest, most distant stars thanks to infrared imaging, giving them a better understanding of the Universe's origins. (NASA, Webb Telescope via The Universe Today)

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  13. Space

    Star Theoretically Too Massive to Exist, Exists

    A European research team headed up by Paul Crowther, professor of Astrophysics at the University of Sheffield in England, discovered a cluster of stars including a few larger than astronomers previously thought possible. The largest of them, R136a1, measured in at 300 solar masses. This shatters the maximum figure that scientists had provided, which was a meager 150 solar masses. For some time, there was no theory regarding a maximum size for stars, but in 2005 the Hubble telescope examined the Arches cluster, the densest in our galaxy. Many expected us to find stars ranging from 100 to 1,000 times as massive as our own sun, but no stars of more than 150 solar masses were found. This was startling, and led to a longstanding theory that stars couldn't exceed 150 solar masses.

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