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Planet-seeking satellite takes first images

A planet-hunting satellite that launched in December 2006 has opened its eye to the stars. Its first images suggest the satellite’s instruments are in good working order, paving the way for planet searching to begin in February 2007. The mission, called “Convection, Rotation & Planetary Transits” (COROT) and led by France’s Centre Nationale d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), launched on December 27, 2006, from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It will use a 27-centimetre telescope to look for the tiny brightness dips of stars caused by planets passing in front of them, potentially spotting planets just two or three times the size of Earth.
http://smsc.cnes.fr/COROT/GP_actualite.htm#janv2007

Astronomers find the most distant star clusters

Astronomers have discovered the most distant population of star clusters ever seen, hidden behind one of the nearest such clusters to Earth. At a distance of more than a billion light-years, the newly discovered star clusters provide a unique probe of what similar systems in our own galaxy once looked like.
http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/media/releases/2007/mr-07-001.html

New Evidence Of Extrasolar Asteroid Belt

Providing the best evidence yet for an asteroid belt beyond the solar system, new measurements pinpoint the location of such a disk of warm dust surrounding the star Zeta Leporis. As the January 6, 2007 issue of “Science News” reports, this dust lies about the same distance from Zeta Leporis as the solar system’s asteroid belt lies from the sun.
Article @ Science News

Abstract: Mid-infrared resolution of a 3 AU-radius debris disk around Zeta Leporis

Chandra Discovers Light Echo from the Milky Way's Black Hole

Like cold case investigators, astronomers have used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to uncover evidence of a powerful outburst from the giant black hole at the Milky Way’s center.
http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2007/gcle/

Radio Telescopes Provide Key Clue on Black Hole Growth

Astronomers have discovered the strongest evidence yet found indicating that matter is being ejected by a medium-sized black hole, providing valuable insight on a process that may have been key to the development of larger black holes in the early Universe. The scientists combined the power of all the operational telescopes of the National Science Foundation’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) to peer deep into the heart of the galaxy NGC 4395, 14 million light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Canes Venatici.
http://www.nrao.edu/pr/2007/imbh/

Rethinking last century's closest, brightest supernova

Twenty years ago next month, the closest and brightest supernova in four centuries lit up the southern sky, wowing astronomers and the public alike. Ongoing observations of the exploded star, called supernova 1987A, provided important tests for theories of how stars die, but it also raised some new questions.
http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2007/01/09_LBV.shtml

Kepler's Supernova Remnant: A Star's Death Comes to Life

Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, scientists have created a stunning new image of one of the youngest supernova remnants in the galaxy. This new view of the debris of an exploded star helps astronomers solve a long-standing mystery, with implications for understanding how a star’s life can end catastrophically and for gauging the expansion of the universe.
http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2007/kepler/index.html

Astronomers Map a Hypergiant Star's Massive Outbursts

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, astronomers have learned that the gaseous outflow from one of the brightest super-sized stars in the sky is more complex than originally thought. The outbursts are from VY Canis Majoris, a red supergiant star that is also classified as a hypergiant because of its very high luminosity.
http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2007/03/image/

Hubble Observes Infant Stars in Nearby Galaxy

A new image taken with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope depicts bright, blue, newly formed stars that are blowing a cavity in the center of a star-forming region in the Small Magellanic Cloud. At the heart of the star-forming region lies star cluster NGC 602. The high-energy radiation blazing out from the hot young stars is sculpting the inner edge of the outer portions of the nebula, slowly eroding it away and eating into the material beyond. The diffuse outer reaches of the nebula prevent the energetic outflows from streaming away from the cluster. Ridges of dust and gaseous filaments are seen towards the upper-left part of the image and towards the lower right-hand corner. Elephant trunk-like dust pillars point towards the hot blue stars and are tell-tale signs of their eroding effect. In this region it is possible with Hubble to trace how the star formation started at the center of the cluster and propagated outward, with the youngest stars still forming today along the dust ridges. The Small Magellanic Cloud, in the constellation Tucana, is 200.000 light-years from Earth.
http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2007/04/image/a/

Blue Origin's Rocket is Finally Revealed

Amazon.com’s founder Jeff Bezos has a rocket company on the side called “Blue Origin”. What was going on within this company has been a huge secret for several years. Now we know more. The Blue Origin website has been updated with photos and videos of the new Goddard rocket, which blasted off on November 13, 2006, from the West Texas launch facility. For its maiden voyage, the rocket launched vertically, reached an altitude of 87 metres, and then landed back down vertically on the launch pad.
Blue Origin