Hello all,

There’s a boatload of new stuff at http://spacescience.nasa.gov , including
a number of articles released last week at the 196th National Meeting of
the American Astronomical Society, in Rochester, NY. Sorry to overwhelm
you, but here it comes:

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Chandra, Chandra, Chandra:

Chandra has revealed a spectacular luminous spike of X-rays that emanates
from the vicinity of a giant black hole in the center of the radio galaxy
Pictor A. The spike, or jet, is due to a beam of particles streaking across
hundreds of thousands of light-years of intergalactic space (about 8 times
the diameter of our Milky Way galaxy) toward a brilliant X-ray hot spot
that marks its end point.
http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/00_releases/press_060600pic.html

A new Chandra X-ray Observatory image of Perseus A provides new insight
into how this supergiant galaxy has grown by cannibalizing other galaxies
and gas in the vicinity. For the first time astronomers see an X-ray shadow
cast by a smaller galaxy as its gas is being stripped away by the enormous
galaxy. http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/00_releases/press_060700pers.html

Chandra has imaged for the first time a “hot bubble” of gas surrounding a
dying, sun-like star. This large region of very hot gas in a planetary
nebula has a peculiar shape and contains elements produced in the core of
the dying star.
http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/00_releases/press_060600pne.html

Chandra Reveals a Compact Nebula Created by a Shooting Neutron Star –
shortly after the star exploded, jets with unequal thrust along the poles
of the neutron star could have accelerated it like a rocket.
http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/00_releases/press_060600vela.html

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A group of astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray
Observatory, in concert with other telescopes, have directly detected for
the first time a type of stellar flare seen previously only on the sun.
Gaining a better understanding of how flares happen on other stars will
help scientists figure out what causes them on the sun, where they cause
geomagnetic storms that can trigger power outages and communication
blackouts on Earth.
http://www.colorado.edu/NewsServices/NewsReleases/2000/706.html

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The first detection of an emission line spectrum (the “bar code” of the
elements in its make-up) for a rare class of objects known as soft
gamma-ray repeaters may lend credence to the theory that these objects are
highly magnetized neutron stars. These findings come from our Rossi X-ray
Timing Explorer (RXTE).

story: ftp://pao.gsfc.nasa.gov/pub/PAO/Releases/2000/00-61.htm
RXTE: http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/xte/xte_1st.html
magnetars: http://www.magnetar.com/

——————

One of NEAR Shoemaker’s six scientific instruments has been turned off
after the NEAR mission team detected a power surge in the device.
Otherwise, NEAR continues to function well at asteroid Eros.
http://near.jhuapl.edu/news/flash/00jun07.html

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Brine-pocketed salt crystals within the “Zag” meteorite may be among the
oldest materials found in the solar system. This old age opens the
possibility that hospitable conditions for life might have arisen earlier
than previously thought.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/06/000609005649.htm

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Astronomers report the first detection of a noble gas in a comet and new
clues to the origin of Hale-Bopp – this study, using data from a suborbital
rocket experiment, may provide clues to the origins of comets.

story: http://www.swri.org/9what/releases/argon.htm
the suborbital sounding rocket program:
http://rscience.gsfc.nasa.gov/index.html

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Short-lived pockets of liquid water could exist close enough to the surface
of Europa to allow sunlight to penetrate them, providing sufficient energy
to support life. Or at least so says a recent study.
http://www.spaceviews.com/2000/06/08c.html

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A team of astronomers has used a new type of telescope to reveal that
Polaris, the North Star, is 46 times larger than our own Sun. Long known to
be a “Cepheid” variable star, this new measurement confirms that Polaris is
a Cepheid of a very unusual nature.
http://www.usno.navy.mil/pao/press/npoi0607.html

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The largest survey of galaxies ever conducted has resulted in the most
spectacular three-dimensional map of the Universe to date. The survey of
over 100,000 galaxies provides new evidence that the low density of the
Universe will cause it to expand forever, rather than collapse in a “Big
Crunch”. http://www.mso.anu.edu.au/2dFGRS/Public/AAS-June2000/

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Most current models of the origin of life are based on self-replicating
proteins or RNA. A new model has been proposed, suggesting a new route for
the origin of life based on lipid molecules, oily substances that are the
chief ingredients of cell membranes.
http://wis-wander.weizmann.ac.il/weizmann/doa_iis.dll/Serve/item/English/1.200.6.14.html

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Supermassive black holes may occur in pairs at the centers of many
galaxies. Just in case one is not enough.
http://uc.rutgers.edu/medrel/viewArticle.phtml?ArticleID=640

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Cheers!

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