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Hubble Space Telescope shows space.
NASA has selected five proposals as part of its Small Explorer (SMEX) missions - these are low-cost, highly specialized missions to help advance science in a specific area. The candidates are: the Normal-incidence Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer, the Dark universe Observatory, the Interstellar Boundary Explorer, the Nuclear Spectroscopic telescope Array, and the Jupiter Magnetospheric Explorer. Two finalists will eventually be chosen for launch by 2007-2008.
Workers in Chile broke ground today in the construction of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) - a giant radio telescope made up of 64 high-precision radio antennas. ALMA is scheduled to be completed in 2012, but radio Astronomers will be able to start using it in 2007, when some of the antennas have been completed. Using interferometry, the radio signals from the individual 12-metre dishes will be combined to act like a single radio telescope 14 kilometres across. Needless to say, it will help Astronomers push much deeper into the Cosmos when viewing the radio spectrum.
The newest image released from the Hubble Space Telescope shows a turbulent region of space surrounding an ultra-luminous star called Eta Carinae. The strand-like nature of the nebula was caused by a series of stars that blew off their outer shells - some of the brighter areas in the nebula may eventually turn into new star systems. This picture is only a three light-year chunk of the whole Carina Nebula, which is 200 light-years across and visible to the naked eye in the southern sky.
Dark matter is an invisible Halo of material that seems to surround every galaxy. Astronomers can't see it, but they know it's there by the effect of its gravity; there seems to be 10 times as much Dark matter as regular matter. Until now, Astronomers believed that Dark matter probably formed an even mist of particles in space, but researchers from UC Berkeley and MIT have created a computer simulation of how Dark matter might clump together into larger chunks of material.
Just in case you'd forgotten, here's another reminder of Saturday's total lunar eclipse, visible from most of the Americas, Europe and Africa. The visible eclipse begins at 2332 GMT (6:32 pm EST) and the maximum happens at 0119 GMT Sunday (8:19 pm EST Saturday). The Moon is just going to skim inside the Earth's shadow, so it won't be a long eclipse, but you should still be able to see it turn dark and then a coppery red colour before exiting the shadow again. If you can't see the eclipse where you live, return to universe Today - we'll be showcasing various astrocameras around the world broadcasting the eclipse live.
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