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Space


— Space

Brown dwarf aurora may help characterize distant exoplanets

The discovery of a powerful aurora surrounding a distant failed star may in future aid astronomers in their hunt for habitable planets. The aurora is the first to be discovered around a brown dwarf, known as LSRJ 1835+3259 (LSRJ). It's a type of star that shares many characteristics with known exoplanets, and the technique used to observe the phenomenon could one day be a factor in determining whether a planet could sustain life.

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— Space

New map reveals a third of the stars in the Milky Way have dramatically changed orbit

It's easy to think of stars as being fixed in place, because that's how we see them in the sky. But like Earth and the other planets, they have orbits. And it turns out those orbits can change dramatically. In creating a new map of the Milky Way as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), scientists recently discovered that around 30 percent of the stars in our galaxy have done exactly that – they've moved into a totally new orbit.

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— Space

Mars orbiter prepares for next year's InSight lander arrival

Space travel is a constant exercise in forward planning, with mission control thinking years and sometimes decades in advance. A case in point is NASA's InSight Mars lander, which is scheduled to touchdown on the Red Planet on September 26, 2016. This may be more than a year away, but the space agency is already moving its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) into a new orbit to provide communications support during the landing.

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— Space

Human error and inadequate training blamed for SpaceShipTwo crash

The United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released the conclusions of its accident investigation into the crash of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo last year over the Mojave Desert. According to the report, the accident was due to an error by the co-pilot, who prematurely released the spacecraft's feather system, placing too much stress on the fuselage and causing it to break up.

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— Space

Ice flows, hazy hydrocarbons among latest Pluto reveals

NASA has detailed fresh discoveries and released the latest batch of images from New Horizons. Sent as the unmanned probe hurtles away from Pluto and out of the Solar System, the new images and readings show a haze that may be the source of Pluto's reddish color and exotic ice that flows like glaciers. The space agency has also shared a spectacular New Horizons flyby simulation video.

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— Space

ALMA provides detailed look at galaxy formation in the early Universe

Astronomers have used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to observe distant clouds of star-forming gas from just 800 million years after the Big Bang. The findings represent the first time that the objects have been seen as anything more than just faint blotches, and the new data from the observations is set to significantly impact our understanding of the early Universe.

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