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The expansion of our universe theory.
The theory that the expansion of our universe is accelerating got another boost this week by a group of researchers from Princeton University. They used data in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to measure the light from 3,000 quasars. They weren't looking at these quasars, though, but at diffuse Hydrogen gas that sits in space partially obscuring the intervening space. The light from the quasars is changed depending on how much this gas that it has to go through. The Astronomers were able to get a sense of how this gas clumped together over time, and their results exactly match the inflationary model of the Universe.
An international team of Astronomers have found new evidence that massive black holes are surrounded by a torus (aka a doughnut) of gas and dust that can block our view if seen edge-on. The latest observations were made using the Integral and XMM-Newton space observatories, which looked at NGC 4388; and edge-on spiral Galaxy located 65 million light years away. The team was able to determine the thickness and composition of the torus by looking through it at the radiation coming out of the supermassive black hole.
As part of their efforts to return the Space Shuttle fleet back to operation, NASA engineers tested out a complete Space Shuttle Main Engine on Monday. The test ran for 520 seconds, which is how long the shuttle takes to get into orbit, and it looks like there were no problems. The engine will next be shipped out to the Kennedy Space Center for installation into the Space Shuttle Discovery. If the Return to Flight tasks go well, the next flight, STS-114, could launch as early as March 2005 to return to the International Space Station.
The European Space Agency's first Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) has arrived Noordwijk in The Netherlands to begin extensive testing. Dubbed "Jules Verne", this ATV is the first of seven cargo ships under development by the ESA, which will supply the International Space Station with food, water, oxygen and scientific equipment. If all goes well, the tests should be complete within six months, and then the ATV will be shipped off to the European spaceport in French Guiana to be launched on top of an Ariane 5 rocket.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft took this image of Rhea, Saturn's second largest Moon on June 2, 2004, when it was 990,000 km (615,000 miles) away. Rhea is 1528 km (950 miles) across, ancient, and cratered. More than 20 years ago, Voyager discovered that one of its hemispheres has bright, wispy streaks that might be deposits of water ice. Cassini is expected to fly only 500 km (311 miles) away from Rhea on November 26, 2005, so we've got a bit of a wait before getting the extreme close-up view.
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