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The faster a star spins, the more it flattens out.


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The faster a star spins, the more it flattens out.
The faster a star spins, the more it flattens out.

Measuring the Shape of stars.

The faster a star spins, the more it flattens out, changing from a sphere to something more egg-shaped. Since stars are points of light in the sky, it's difficult to determine their shape, but Astronomers are now using gravitational lensing to get a sense of the shape of stars. This depends on the light from a distant star being deflected by the gravity of something closer. In a recent lensing event, where a closer star eclipsed a more distant star, Astronomers were able to detect that the background star was slightly elongated. This is impressive considering the distant star was 16,000 light-years away.

Soyuz Launches Foton-M Spacecraft.

An unmanned Foton-M spacecraft was launched today on board a Russian Soyuz-U from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. This is a special research satellite for the European Space Agency, which has 39 experiments on board ranging from fluid physics to exobiology. The spacecraft will stay in orbit for 16 days before returning the contents back to Earth safely. The capsule and experiments will be recovered quickly after landing and the time sensitive experiments will be rushed back to researchers in Europe.

White Dwarfs in a Death Spiral.

New observations from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory have discovered two White Dwarf stars orbiting one another at a tremendous speed - they're only 80.000 km (50,000 miles) apart! The rate at which they're orbiting is decreasing by 1.2 milliseconds every year, which means they're destined to eventually collide. What's important about this find is that the stars are probably creating gravity waves, as predicted by Einstein, and these gravity waves should increase as they get closer and closer.

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