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The centre of our Galaxy lies 26,000 light-years from Earth.
An international team of Astronomers have mapped a sizable region of space around the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and have found the wreckage of many galaxies, torn apart by its massive gravity. One stream of stars has been found stretching back 50,000 to a satellite Galaxy which is in the process of being consumed. They also found 14 globular star clusters floating far from Andromeda's centre; the remnants of destroyed galaxies. By studying these galactic fossils, Astronomers can better understand the evolution of Andromeda.
Radio Astronomers have successfully measured an object that surrounds the supermassive black hole at the heart of our Milky Way galaxy. The centre of our Galaxy lies 26,000 light-years from Earth, but it's normally obscured by gas and dust, so visible light Telescopes can't see it. By focusing on the object, called Sagittarius A, with high radio wavelengths, the Astronomers were determine that its size is as about the same as the orbit of the Earth around the Sun. The supermassive black hole at the centre is likely the size of the orbit of Mercury, but it contains 4 million solar masses.
NASA's Spirit rover has found a rock that seems to have been acted on by water in the past. The rock is called "Mazatzal", and lies partially buried near the rim of the Crater Bonneville; its light-toned appearance caught the eye of NASA scientists. Spirit used its rock abrasion tool to grind under the surface, and found a darker interior with a bright stripe that cut across both layers. This seems to indicate a fracture that water flowed through. More data about the rock is being transferred back to Earth while Spirit drives to Columbia Hills, located 2.3 kilometres away.
The Gravity Probe B spacecraft, which is designed to test two predictions of Einstein's General theory of Relativity, has been scheduled to launch on April 17. The spacecraft will use four precise gyroscopes to determine how space and time are distorted by the gravity of the Earth and its rotation. The spacecraft will orbit the Earth once every 90 minutes, and gather data for more than a year, comparing any drift in its gyroscopes to the position of a guide star.
As Cassini closes in on Saturn, its view is growing sharper with time and now reveals new atmospheric features in the planet's southern hemisphere.
The spacecraft's narrow angle camera took several exposures on March 8, 2004 which have been combined to create this natural color image. The image contrast and colors have been slightly enhanced to aid visibility. The spacecraft was then 56.4 million kilometers (35 million miles) from Saturn, or slightly more than one-third of the distance from Earth to the Sun. The image scale is approximately 338 kilometers (210 miles) per pixel. The planet is 23 percent larger in this image than it appeared in the preceding color image, taken four weeks earlier.
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