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Sun's 11 year cycle of Sunspot activity.
The European Space Agency's Proba satellite has taken a high resolution image of a segment of the Great Wall of China. There has been much debate about whether or not the wall is visible from space; Yang Liwei, China's first spacefarer, wasn't able to see it. Astronaut Eugene Cernan said that at an altitude of 160 km (100 miles), he was able to see it. Proba orbits at an altitude of 600 km (372 miles), and was designed to demonstrate several Earth observation techniques.
Astronomers have had plenty of time to observe the fluctuations of the Sun, but until now, it's been unclear if other stars go through the same cycles. But new data gathered by the ESA's XMM-Newton X-Ray Observatory has found a similar cycle of radiation in a distant star. The X-ray brightness of HD 81809, located 90 light-years away in the constellation of Hydra, has varied 10 times over the past 2 and a half years, reaching a well defined peak in mid 2002 - just like the Sun's 11 year cycle of Sunspot activity.
A new image released from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory shows the giant elliptical Galaxy M87. Bright jets can be seen at the heart of the galaxy, which are generated by a supermassive black hole, and it looks like it's been actively reshaping the Galaxy for hundreds of millions of years. Two circular rings are visible extending away from the centre of the galaxy, and were likely caused by two massive explosions millions of years ago.
Astronomers may not have observed the fabled "Stairway to Heaven," but they have photographed something almost as intriguing: ladder-like structures surrounding a dying star.
A new image, taken with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, reveals startling new details of one of the most unusual nebulae known in our Milky Way. Cataloged as HD 44179, this nebula is more commonly called the "Red Rectangle" because of its unique shape and color as seen with ground-based telescopes.
Hubble has revealed a wealth of new features in the Red Rectangle that cannot be seen with ground-based Telescopes looking through the Earth's turbulent atmosphere. Details of the Hubble study were published in the April 2004 issue of The Astronomical Journal.
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