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Herschel confirms Enceladus as primary water supply for Saturn's atmosphere
Observing Saturn, Herschel has detected evidence of water molecules in a huge torus surrounding the planet and centred on the orbit of its small moon, Enceladus. The water plumes on Enceladus, which were detected by the Cassini-Huygens mission, inject the water into the torus and part of it eventually precipitates into Saturn's atmosphere. The new study has identified Enceladus as the primary water supply to Saturn's upper atmosphere; this is the first example in the Solar System of a moon directly influencing the atmosphere of its host planet.
Date: 26 July 2011
Four unusual views of the Andromeda Galaxy [heic1112]
The Andromeda Galaxy is revealed in unprecedented detail in four archive observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. They show stars and structure in the galaxy's disc, the halo of stars that surrounds it, and a stream of stars left by a companion galaxy as it was torn apart and pulled in by the galaxy's gravitational forces.
Date: 21 July 2011
Stardust in our backyard provides new clues to galaxy evolution
New data from ESA's Herschel Space Observatory have revealed surprisingly large amounts of cold dust in the remnant of the famous supernova SN1987A, which is located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a neighbouring galaxy of the Milky Way, and was first observed 24 years ago. With this discovery, the astronomers confirm that supernovae are able to produce significant quantities of dust over very short time scales. This may help explain previous observations, by Herschel and other observatories, of abundant dust in the early Universe as seen in high-redshift galaxies. The results are published online today in Science Express.
Date: 07 July 2011
Billion pixel Gaia camera starts to take shape
Another milestone in the development of Gaia, ESA's ultra-sensitive space astrometry mission, was passed on 1 June when the 106 electronic detectors of its billion pixel camera were assembled like a large mosaic for the first time.
Date: 06 July 2011
Cluster observes jet braking and plasma heating
High speed plasma flows, often referred to as jets, are extremely common across the Universe. Such jets are observed in Earth's magnetosphere, in solar flares, and near various objects powered by black holes. New insights into the processes that modify these streams of ionised particles have been provided by rare in situ measurements of plasma flows made by ESA's Cluster spacecraft.
Date: 04 July 2011
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