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Puzzling Jets Seen Blasting Out from a Nebula.

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Image credit: ESA
Puzzling Jets Seen Blasting Out from a Nebula

May 22, 2003 - Astronomers from the European Space Agency have uncovered a bizarre mystery. They’ve found strange jets emerging from a planetary nebula called Henize 3-1475. Even more unusual is the shape of the jets, which curve back on opposite sides like water coming from a rotating garden sprinkler. Their theory is that a large star at the centre of the nebula is emanating the jets as it slowly turns, once every 1,500 years. Furthermore, the flow isn’t smooth, it’s all bubbled and knotted, leading the Astronomers to believe new gas blasts out every 100 years or so.

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Image credit: NASA
Researchers Stop light in Its Tracks

May 22, 2003 - Researchers at Harvard University demonstrated that they can slow light and even completely stop it for several thousandths of a second. They built a chamber containing a cloud of sodium atoms cooled to almost absolute zero and then fired a light pulse into this cloud. The pulse slowed to a stop and even turned off – the researchers were able to revive it again by firing a laser into the cloud. Although this breakthrough happened a couple of years ago, an upcoming special edition of Scientific American called "The Edge of Physics" will provide an update to the research.

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Image credit: Mars Institute
MARS-1 Humvee Rover Arrives at Devon Island

May 22, 2003 - The Mars Institute confirmed today that the MARS-1 Humvee Rover successfully crossed the frozen Wellington Channel reaching NASA Haughton-Mars Project on Devon Island. The odd-looking vehicle is a converted Humvee military ambulance with widened tracks for the snow, and will be equipped with scientific equipment for exploring the region. Devon Island, in the Canadian Arctic, is barren and remote and makes a great testing ground for learning what it will take to send a human mission to Mars.

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Image credit: Chandra
Supermassive black holes Contribute to Galaxy Growth

May 22, 2003 - New images taken by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory show Galaxies in an energetic phase in their development. Supermassive black holes at their centres are transferring a significant amount of energy into the gas surrounding the galaxies. Astronomers believe that this is just a stage in longer cycle where gas cools to form galaxies, which then merge and create a supermassive black hole. Jets of hot gas blast away from the black hole sweeping away all matter, giving the gas a chance to cool back down – and then the cycle starts all over again.

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