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An unreal Mars skyline

Pretty, isn’t it? You can find endless copies of it online; just search on the term “mars skyline”. It’s been picked up on tons of Tumblrs and other social media.But yeah, there’s just one problem: it’s not real.” (Bad Astronomy via abby)

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Watching the Leonid Meteor Shower

A meteor during the peak of the 2009 Leonid Me...
Image via Wikipedia

“The Leonid meteor shower rolls through the sky once a year, peaking in mid-November. It’s caused by a trail of debris that travels along the orbit of the comet Tempel-Tuttle.The 2010 Leonid meteor shower runs from Wednesday, Nov. 10, through Sunday, Nov. 21. The peak will be the nights between the 17th and the 19th.The Leonids are famous for being spectacular storms — since the orbit of the Temple-Tuttle comet intersects with that of Earth, the debris cloud our planet passes through each year is dense and full of particles and meteoroids. In optimal viewing conditions on a good year, you can see between 15 and 30 meteors per hour streaking across the sky during the peak.” (via Wired How-To Wiki)

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Hubble Finds Star Eating a Planet

Hubble Finds a Star Eating a Planet

‘”The Star That Ate My Planet” may sound like a B-grade science fiction movie title, but this is really happening 600 light-years away. Like a moth in a candle flame, a doomed Jupiter-sized planet has moved so close to its sunlike parent star that it is spilling its atmosphere onto the star. This happens because the planet gets so hot that its atmosphere puffs up to the point where the star’s gravity pulls it in. The planet will likely be completely devoured in 10 million years. Observations by Hubble’s new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph measured a variety of elements in the planet’s bloated atmosphere as the planet passed in front of its star. The planet, called WASP-12b, is the hottest known world ever discovered, with an atmosphere seething at 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit.’ (HubbleSite)

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Jupiter loses a stripe

Original Caption Released with Image: This pro...

1990

2010

Jupiter has lost one of its prominent stripes, leaving its southern half looking unusually blank. Scientists are not sure what triggered the disappearance of the band.

Jupiter’s appearance is usually dominated by two dark bands in its atmosphere – one in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere.

But recent images taken by amateur astronomers show that the southern band – called the south equatorial belt – has disappeared.

The band was present at the end of 2009, right before Jupiter moved too close to the sun in the sky to be observed from Earth. When the planet emerged from the sun’s glare again in early April, its south equatorial belt was nowhere to be seen.’ (New Scientist)

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Elusive Supermassive-Black-Hole Mergers Finally Found

“Observations have shown that nearly every galaxy has a supermassive black hole — a black hole with a mass of one million to one billion times that of the sun — at its center and that galaxies often collide and merge to create larger galaxies. Astronomers have expected to find many mid-merge galaxies by focusing on the two supermassive black holes, which should be orbiting each other in the middle.”

Now, innovative observational techniques have identified 33 of the ‘waltzing’ black hole pairs. (Wired News)

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Centuries-Old Star Mystery Coming to a Close

This is an artistic rendering of the epsilon A...

Artistic rendering of e-Aurigae system.

The bright star Epsilon Aurigae, visible to the naked eye in the northern hemisphere, has long puzzled scientists because of a 27-year cycle of dimming and brightening. This suggested that it was an eclipsing binary system. However, the spectral signature of the bright component, suggesting that it was a supermassive giant star, made it difficult to build a model that would account for what might be eclipsing it. Now, the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope may have put the mystery to rest with some ingenious observation techniques.

[Does anyone, apart from my friend abby, whom I have to thank for sending me many such links, enjoy these arcane astronomical items?]