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Big Bang, when the Universe was only 6% of its current age.
The European Space Agency has picked a special image taken by Envisat for Valentine's Day. The radar image is of a land feature called Sebkha Te-n-Dghamcha, which is a large depression in the Sahara Desert. The region once contained a lake, but it evaporated, and now all that remains are shallow ponds of salty water.
A new theory from University of Arizona researcher Xiaohui Fan predicts that the supermassive black holes which form the core of most Galaxies were created only 700 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only 6% of its current age. Fan used data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to analyze the light of distant quasars, as far away as 13 billion light-years. He found that they contained light elements like Hydrogen and helium, but also heavier elements like carbon and iron, which shouldn't have formed so early. But they could be explained if these black holes formed so early.
NASA and the European Space Agency have demonstrated that their spacecraft can talk to each other. In a recent test, the ESA's Mars Express orbiter transferred data and commands to NASA's Spirit rover. The commands for the rover were transferred from Spirit's control centre at JPL to the ESA's operations centre in Darmstadt Germany and then transmitted to Mars Express, which connected to Spirit on the surface of Mars. Spirit then transmitted back to Mars Express, and the communications went in reverse. The two agencies planned this demonstration as part of their ongoing work to cooperate in space.
An instrument on board NASA's Spirit rover has detected warm air thermals rising off the surface of Mars; the first time this has been seen on the Red Planet. Thermals on Earth work to create wind, so by analyzing the temperature and speed of these thermals, it will better help scientists understand wind dynamics on Mars. On the other side of the planet, Opportunity has found unusual blueberry-shaped formations in the soil, and scientists are studying them to understand the soil's development.
Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have found a diamond in space, and it's big... really big. The object, technically known as BPM 37093, is a crystallized White Dwarf star approximately 4,000 km across. The Astronomers call it a diamond, because it's made up of crystallized carbon surrounded by a thin layer of Hydrogen and helium gasses. It's believed that this is the final outcome for many stars, including our own Sun. In five billion years our Sun will become a White Dwarf and two billion years after that the carbon should crystallize to form a gigantic diamond.
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