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Collision between two Neutron stars.
Usually it's the biggest things that get the news, but an international team of researchers have demonstrated that the tiny might be just as important. They spotted the smallest coronal mass ejection (CME) ever seen on the surface of the Sun, produced from a region not much bigger than the Earth. This sounds big, but it's a fraction of the size of those huge CMEs we normally see in pictures of the Sun. Amazingly, the magnetic field lines in this pint-sized CME were 10x more twisted than their larger cousins.
Monday's gamma ray burst might have been just what Astronomers have been hoping to see for decades - the birth of a new black hole. GRB 050509B was a short gamma ray burst, lasting only 50 milliseconds, which means it could be the result of a collision between two Neutron stars, or even two black holes. NASA's Swift observatory detected the explosion, tracked its location, and focused its large telescope within a minute of its occurrence.
A researcher from Washington University in St. Louis is developing techniques that will help understand how early life developed and diverged here on Earth, to help predict where and what form it might take on Mars. Carrine Blank has traced the genetic relationships between different classes of bacteria, and determined when they broke away from each other to evolve into distinct organisms. These patterns of divergence have happened in several places on Earth, so it's possible they happened on Mars too.
Think astronomy is a boring task of poring over data or staring at star chart after start chart? Sometimes, it can get downright exciting, like when a worldwide alert goes off signifying a new gamma ray burst in the sky. Monday, May 9, 2005 saw not one, but two, gamma ray bursts as NASA's HETE-2 and SWIFT x-ray satellites each managed to sound the alarm from low-earth orbit. One of these events may prove to be just the breakthrough needed to help astrophysicists better understand just how such highly explosive events actually come about. But they've really got to hustle to get the objects imaged before they fade away, and take all their secrets with them.
Cassini has confirmed the discovery of a previously unseen Moon tucked in a gap in Saturn's A ring. The moon, provisionally called S/2005 S1 for now, is only 7 km (4 miles) across, and orbits within the Keeler gap. Even though it's so small, you can clearly see the effect of its gravity on the nearby ring edge, which has distinctive waves along its edge. The is the second Moon ever discovered within Saturn's rings. The first, Pan, is 25 km (16 miles) across and orbits within the Encke gap. All the other moons are outside the ring system.
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