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Pluto's Moon Charon passed in front of star.


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Pluto's Moon Charon.
Pluto's Moon Charon.

Charon Passes in Front of a Star.

Astronomers from MIT and Williams College have teamed up to capture an event seen only once, 25 years ago. On the night of July 10/11, Pluto's Moon Charon briefly passed in front of a distant star - this is called an occultation. By studying how the light from this star dimmed and then brightened again, the Astronomers will be able to determine if Charon has an atmosphere. Charon is small, so it doesn't have much gravity to hold an atmosphere, but it's so cold that some gasses could be held in place.

How Millisecond Pulsars Spin So Fast.

Observations with the Chandra X-Ray Observatory have given Astronomers some clues about what causes millisecond pulsars - extremely dense stars which can spin many times a second. Several of these pulsars were discovered in a stellar cluster called 47 Tucanae, where the stars are less than.1 light years apart. Astronomers think these pulsars started as regular Neutron stars, but tightly joined with stellar companions they picked up in the cluster. Eventually they get so close they start drawing material off the companion, which causes them to speed up.

Biggest Star Quake Ever Seen.

On December 27, 2004, a neutron star flared up so brightly, it temporarily blinded all the X-ray satellites in space for an instant, and lit up the Earth's upper atmosphere. This tremendous blast of energy was from a giant flare created by the Neutron star's twisting magnetic field. Objects like this are called magnetars, and they produce magnetic fields trillions of time more powerful than those here on Earth. These fields are so strong they can actually buckle the surface of the neutron star causing these powerful star quakes.

Search for Mars Methane.

Jul 20, 2005 Since scientists announced the discovery of methane in the atmosphere of Mars last year, there has been a controversy about whether this is an indication of life on the planet or not. Methane should only last a few hundred years in the Martian atmosphere before it breaks apart, so some source is continually producing it. On Earth, the main source of methane is from life; mainly microbes. But could there be some other natural geological process on Mars keeping this gas in the atmosphere?

July 26 Targeted for Discovery Launch.

NASA is targeting July 26, 2005 as the earliest date for the Space Shuttle Discovery to return to flight. Engineers are still working through a troubleshooting plan to get to the bottom of a problem with a liquid Hydrogen low-level sensor circuit that forced managers to abort the launch last week. Discovery's launch window lasts until July 31, and then opens up again in September.

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