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Wolf Rayat stars are most dangerous in the universe.
It's back. Yes, the Moon will figure prominently in this week's night sky, but it will put on a grand show as we have several occultations and a grazing event in store. We'll have plenty of opportunities to view new lunar features and catch a "shooting star" as we enter a very unusual meteoroid stream. So grab your Telescopes and binoculars, because...
Since the beginning of astronomical observation, science has been viewing light on a curve. In a Galaxy filled with thousands of eclipsing binary stars, we've refined our skills by measuring the brightness or intensity of so-called variable star as a function of time. The result is known as a "light curve". Through this type of study, we've discovered size, distance and orbital speed of stellar bodies and refined our ability to detect planetary bodies orbiting distant suns. Here on Earth, most of the time it's impossible for us to resolve such small objects even with the most powerful of telescopes, because their size is less than one pixel in the detector. But new research should let us determine the shape of an object... like a ringed planet, or an orbiting alien space station.
Wolf Rayat stars are some of the most massive and dangerous stars in the Universe, living out the final days before they explode as supernovae. And Astronomers have found two of them orbiting one another at distances varying as close as the Sun is to Mars and as far as the Sun to Neptune. One star is 20 times the mass of the Sun, and the other 50 times the mass of the Sun, and they only take 7.9 years to complete their orbital cycle.
An international researchers has found evidence that a universal constant in nature which governs the strength of the molecular bonds between atoms - called "alpha" - might have changed over time. The strength of alpha is very important, and life couldn't exist if it was much different from its current value. The team examined the light from distant quasars billions of light-years away, and measured the unique fingerprint of its light being absorbed by clouds of gas. They compared this fingerprint to known values here on Earth to measure the difference.
On its recent Titan flyby, Cassini took a series of detailed images of the Eastern edge of the bright Xanadu region. Cassini had only viewed this region with its synthetic aperture radar on a previous flyby, so this was an opportunity to image the area in infrared. In the centre of the image is a bright "island" completely surrounded by a dark "sea" of material. There is also an 80 km-wide (50 mile) impact crater, which has also filled up with this dark material.
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