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Detailed new photographs from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.


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Chandra X-Ray photographs.
Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

Stars Form Near the Heart of the Milky Way.

NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory has released detailed new photographs of the region surrounding the supermassive black hole at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy. Chandra has confirmed that there is a mysterious group of newborn stars orbiting less than a light-year away from this black hole. Previous models predict that these stars should be torn apart by tidal forces from the black hole. It's possible that there's dense enough disk of material around the black hole that it has enough gravity of its own to hold these stars together. It's also possible the stars formed somewhere else and migrated to this current location.

Comets Seem to Be Icy Dirtballs.

The traditional view of comets is that they're "dirty snowballs"; mostly water ice, covered by a layer of dust picked up as they travel through the Solar System. But after Deep Impact's collision with Comet Tempel 1, scientists are reversing that description: they're more like "icy dirtballs". When Deep Impact smashed into the comet, it released more dust than water vapour. This means that comets are mostly dust and rocks, held together by a water ice "glue".

Venus Express Meets its Upper Stage.

Preparations for the European Space Agency's Venus Express passed another milestone this week when the spacecraft was connected to its Fregat upper-stage booster. This process was considered hazardous because both the spacecraft and Fregat are fully loaded with fuel. Engineers will continue with a series of tests in preparation for the spacecraft's launch on October 26.

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