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Solar System Likely Once Had Another Gas-Giant Planet

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Those are the gas giants, the four heavyweights of the solar system. But was there once a fifth?

Maybe so, says a new study by David Nesvorny of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. He used computer simulations to explore what the solar system may have looked like some four billion years ago.

Full Story: http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=solar-system-likely-once-had-anothe-11-09-19

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Chinese Launch to Pave Way for Space Station

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

China will launch an unmanned module next week, paving the way for a planned space station, a spokesman for the space program said on Tuesday.

Tiangong-1, or “Heavenly Palace 1”, will blast off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northeast China’s Gansu Province between September 27 and 30, the spokesman said.

The 8.5-ton module, and the Long March II-F rocket that will carry it skyward, were positioned onto the launch pad on Tuesday, signaling that the project has entered the final preparation stage.

“Scientists will conduct final tests in the next few days before injecting propellants for the launch,” Cui Jijun, director of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, said.

 

 

Full Story: http://www.china.org.cn/china/2011-09/21/content_23457956.htm

An Angry Bird in the Sky

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Credit: ESO

Credit: ESO

A new image from the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope reveals the Lambda Centauri Nebula, a cloud of glowing hydrogen and newborn stars in the constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur). The nebula, also known as IC 2944, is sometimes nicknamed the Running Chicken Nebula, from a bird-like shape some people see in its brightest region.

In the nebula, which lies around 6500 light-years from Earth, hot newborn stars that formed from clouds of hydrogen gas shine brightly with ultraviolet light. This intense radiation in turn excites the surrounding hydrogen cloud, making it glow a distinctive shade of red. This red shade is typical of star-forming regions, another famous example being the Lagoon Nebula (eso0936).

Some people see a chicken shape in pictures of this red star-forming region, giving the nebula its nickname — though there is some disagreement over exactly which part of the nebula is chicken shaped, with various bird-like features in evidence across the picture [1].

Full Story: http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1135/