Astronomy and Space News

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Are sunspots killing us? New research hints sunspots at birth shorten overall lifespan

Research out of Norway drew a surprising conclusion this week – sunspots appear to shorten a person’s lifespan by over half a decade. Researchers studied more than 9,062 Norwegian births from 1676 to 1878 and using the occurrence of sunspots, a barometer of sorts for solar activity, found that lifespans were shorter by slightly over five years for persons born during years of high solar activity.
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North Korea surprises the world with their stupidly simple military drones – RC planes with GoPro cameras attached

Although they pale in comparison to the United States’ Predator and Global Hawk military drones, North Korea apparently has a military drone program of their own, albeit Kim Jong-un’s version is little more than a RC plane with GoPro cameras strapped on. South Korea said today that two of the drones crashed outside their military installations near Paju, just south of the Korean DMZ.
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It’s python vs. crocodile – guess who won the epic four-hour battle

Pythons and crocodiles – both are deadly carnivores who terrify not only people, but the enumerable members of the animal kingdom who are unfortunate enough to serve as their lunch. Both beasts lie pretty close to the top of the food chain. But what would happen if the two were pit against each other in a head-to-head battle for life and death? Australian visitors to Queensland’s Lake Moondarra found out this week after witnessing (and photographing) an epic four-hour battle between a 10-foot python and a crocodile measuring at least as much. Surprising to many, the python won.
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Scientist observe and photograph record-breaking meteorite impact on Moon

On September 11, 2013, Spanish astronomers spotted a meteorite with a weight of nearly 1,000 lbs crashing into the surface of the Moon. Astronomers say the record-breaking impact would have generated a flash of light bright enough to be seen from Earth. The strike was recorded by the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System (MIDAS), a series of telescopes in southern Spain
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Wow! Stunning picture of Milky Way taken from Northern Chile

NASA published this stunning photograph today featuring the road that connects the Northern Cross and Southern Cross – the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. Taken from Laguna Cejar in Northern Chile by Nicholas Buer, the photo was shot in October, just after sunset. Included in the photo are the Moon, Venus (above/left of the Moon), Saturn, Mercury, the Large and the Small Magellanic Clouds satellite galaxies. The orange glows on the horizon are the lights of nearby towns.
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China’s lunar rover may have just experienced a catastrophic failure – world holds breath (update)

China’s Jade Rabbit lunar rover is a little over a month into its three-month lunar exploration mission. Today the Chinese State Administration of Space, Technology, and Industry for National Defense has said the rover has experience a “mechanical control abnormality” that was the result of a “complicated lunar surface environment”. In other words, it’s stuck with many interpreting the statement as the Chinese preparing for the loss of their rover.
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Nearby record-breaking M82 supernova continues to grow brighter

Three days ago, a white dwarf exploded in the nearby M82 galaxy (aka Messier 82, Starburst Galaxy, or the Cigar Galaxy), the closest galaxy to our own. The explosion created the closest, and brightest, supernova seen by man in over a quarter of a century. In fact, the explosion is so bright, backyard astronomers are able to view it with small telescopes. Astronomers announced today that the supernova is continuing to grow brighter. Only three days in, the exploding star has become the brightest object in all of the M82 galaxy.
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Astronomers may have found the impossible – a star within a star

Seemingly impossible, the idea of a nested star has been proposed before – it’s just nobody has ever found an example of the cosmic oddity. That may be about to change though. Scientists are keeping the name of the star a secret right now – at least until their peers can validate their findings – but at this point they think they may have found a star within a star.
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The Fireworks Galaxy (NGC 6946) – unusual number of supernovas exploding for no apparent reason

NGC 6946 (also known as the Fireworks Galaxy, Arp 29, and Caldwell 12) is a medium-sized, face-on spiral galaxy about 22.5 million light years away from Earth located in the constellations Cepheus and Cygnus. At about 20,000 light years wide, it’s one of about a dozen nearby neighbors to the Milky Way. Since its discovery by William Herschel on September 9, 1798, nine supernovas (death explosions of massive stars) have been observed to explode in the arms of this unusually active galaxy. Chandra observations (purple) have, in fact, revealed three of the oldest supernovas ever detected in X-rays, giving more credence to its nickname of the "Fireworks Galaxy."
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Pirate Party offers birthday gift for NASA – you can use our servers while U.S. funding gets worked out

The Pirate Party of Russia (Russian: Пиратская Партия России, ППР), a grassroots effort to promote e-democracy, freedom of information, and protection of personal privacy, has offered NASA a birthday gift as the space institution marks its 55th birthday this week. While the space agency’s website has been shut down “due to the lapse in federal government funding”, the Pirate Party has offered NASA the use of its dedicated servers to temporarily host the US space agency’s website.

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