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Sun formed while a more massive star was nearby.
A new theory from researchers at Arizona State University challenges the traditional view of the formation of our Solar System. Instead of forming within an out-of-the-way cloud of interstellar gas and dust, they believe we formed in the intense environment that typically creates more massive stars. The core of their argument is the recent discovery of iron-60 in meteorites; this isotope can only be found in the heart of massive stars. This could mean that the Sun formed while a more massive star was nearby, blasting our environment with intense ultraviolet radiation.
NASA has released fragments from the Space Shuttle Columbia to a non-government group for the first time since the accident for study. The Aerospace Corporation, in El Segundo, California requested and will receive graphite/epoxy honeycomb skins from several sections of the destroyed spacecraft. The Aerospace Corporation will hold onto the debris for a year, and perform a series of tests to understand the maximum temperatures that it faced during re-entry. Several other "Request for Information" applications are still being considered by NASA.
M82, or the Starburst Galaxy, is one of the most studied Galaxies in the night sky. New research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has shed light on a cosmic hurricane that lives inside the galaxy, and sends out a stream of particles at more than 1.6 million km/h (1 million mph). These violent winds which go for thousands of light-years above and below the Galaxy were caused because of M82's near miss with the neighboring spiral Galaxy M81; this set off an explosive burst of star formation.
While searching for near Earth-asteroids, Astronomers at Lowell Observatory found an object which orbits closer to the Sun than any other asteroid. Designated 2004 JG6, the asteroid is probably between 500 - 1,000 metres in diameter (1,600 - 3,200 feet) and takes about six months to go around the Sun. Objects like this, which travel within Earth's orbit are called Apoheles, and they're very difficult to discover because they spend so much time near the Sun, invisible to Telescopes in the daytime sky. Fortunately, 2004 JG6 poses no threat to Earth.
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