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AstroBlog Follow Friday & Weekly Stumbles For 2012-07-13

Weekly Stumbles:

Solar Flare: Another M-Class Flare from Sunspot 1515Solar Flare: Another M-Class Flare from Sunspot 1515
Active Region 1515 has now spit out 12 M-class flares since July 3. Early in the morning of July 5, 2012 there was an M6.1 flare. It peaked at 7:44 AM EDT. This caused a moderate — classified as R2 on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s space weather scale — radio blackout that has since subsided. Radio blackouts occur when the X-rays or extreme UV light from a flare disturb the layer of Earth’s atmosphere known as the ionosphere, through which radio waves travel.

Dust Today, Gone Tomorrow: Astronomers Discover Houdini-Like Vanishing Act in SpaceDust Today, Gone Tomorrow: Astronomers Discover Houdini-Like Vanishing Act in Space
Astronomers report a baffling discovery never seen before: An extraordinary amount of dust around a nearby star has mysteriously disappeared. “It’s like the classic magician’s trick — now you see it, now you don’t,” said Carl Melis, a postdoctoral scholar at UC San Diego and lead author of the research. “Only in this case, we’re talking about enough dust to fill an inner solar system, and it really is gone!”

 Aliens could resemble jellyfish the size of a football field says government advisorAliens could resemble jellyfish the size of a football field says government advisor
According to a British satellite expert and government adviser the outlandish alien imaginings of Hollywood may not be quite alien enough… From little green men to the crustacean-like ‘prawns’ of ‘District 9’ and H.R.Giger’s nightmarish creation in the ‘Alien’ films – our appetite for imagining how visitors from another planet might look shows no sign of diminishing.

Dark Galaxies of the Early Universe Spotted for the First TimeDark Galaxies of the Early Universe Spotted for the First Time
Dark galaxies are small, gas-rich galaxies in the early Universe that are very inefficient at forming stars. They are predicted by theories of galaxy formation and are thought to be the building blocks of today’s bright, star-filled galaxies. Astronomers think that they may have fed large galaxies with much of the gas that later formed into the stars that exist today.

Titanian Seasons Turn, Turn, Turn: Atmospheric Changes On Saturn's MoonTitanian Seasons Turn, Turn, Turn: Atmospheric Changes On Saturn’s Moon
Images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft show a concentration of high-altitude haze and a vortex materializing at the south pole of Saturn’s moon Titan, signs that the seasons are turning on Saturn’s largest moon. “The structure inside the vortex is reminiscent of the open cellular convection that is often seen over Earth’s oceans,” said Tony Del Genio, a Cassini team member at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, N.Y.

Pluto Has a Fifth Moon, Hubble Telescope RevealsPluto Has a Fifth Moon, Hubble Telescope Reveals
A tiny new moon has been discovered orbiting Pluto, scientists announced today (July 11). Researchers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope found the moon, bringing the number of known Pluto satellites to five. The discovery comes almost exactly one year after Hubble spotted Pluto’s fourth moon, a tiny body currently called P4. “Just announced: Pluto has some company — We’ve discovered a 5th moon using the Hubble Space Telescope!” Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., announced via the Twitter social networking website today.

Hubble Unmasks Ghost GalaxiesHubble Unmasks Ghost Galaxies
Astronomers have used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to study some of the smallest and faintest galaxies in our cosmic neighbourhood. These galaxies are fossils of the early Universe: they have barely changed for 13 billion years. The discovery could help explain the so-called “missing satellite” problem, where only a handful of satellite galaxies have been found around the Milky Way, against the thousands that are predicted by theories.

Sounds of Northern Lights Are Born Close to GroundSounds of Northern Lights Are Born Close to Ground
For the first time, researchers at Aalto University in Finland have located where the sounds associated with the northern lights are created. The auroral sounds that have been described in folktales and by wilderness wanderers are formed about 70 meters above the ground level in the measured case. Researchers located the sound sources by installing three separate microphones in an observation site where the auroral sounds were recorded.

Belching Black Hole Proves a Biggie: First Known 'Middleweight' Black HoleBelching Black Hole Proves a Biggie: First Known ‘Middleweight’ Black Hole
Observations with CSIRO’s Australia Telescope Compact Array have confirmed that astronomers have found the first known “middleweight” black hole. Outbursts of super-hot gas observed with a CSIRO radio telescope have clinched the identity of the first known “middleweight” black hole, Science Express reports. Called HLX-1, the black hole lies in a galaxy called ESO 243-49, about 300 million light-years away.

Commercial crew providers aplenty (part 1)Commercial crew providers aplenty (part 1)
The historic rendezvous and docking of the SpaceX capsule Dragon with the International Space Station on May 25 ushered in a new era of commercial spaceflight services. This flight was part of NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, established to foster private sector involvement in providing services to NASA to support the ISS. This mission, a development and demonstration flight, was all the more impressive because, from start to finish, there was hardly a glitch during this first attempt.

New Instrument Sifts Through Starlight to Reveal New WorldsNew Instrument Sifts Through Starlight to Reveal New Worlds
An advanced telescope imaging system that started taking data last month is the first of its kind capable of spotting planets orbiting suns outside of our solar system. The collaborative set of high-tech instrumentation and software, called Project 1640, is now operating on the Hale telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California after more than six years of development by researchers and engineers at the American Museum of Natural History, the California Institute of Technology, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

'Impossible' Binary Stars Discovered‘Impossible’ Binary Stars Discovered
A team of astronomers have used the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) on Hawaii to discover four pairs of stars that orbit each other in less than 4 hours. Until now it was thought that such close-in binary stars could not exist. The new discoveries come from the telescope’s Wide Field Camera (WFCAM) Transit Survey, and appear in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Life's Molecules Could Lie Within Reach of Mars Curiosity RoverLife’s Molecules Could Lie Within Reach of Mars Curiosity Rover
Stick a shovel in the ground and scoop. That’s about how deep scientists need to go in order to find evidence for ancient life on Mars, if there is any to be found, a new study suggests. That’s within reach of Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory rover expected to land on the Red Planet next month. The new findings, which suggest optimal depths and locations to probe for organic molecules like those that compose living organisms as we know them, could help the newest Mars rover scout for evidence of life beneath the surface and within rocks.

CERN Experiments Observe Particle Consistent With Long-Sought Higgs BosonCERN Experiments Observe Particle Consistent With Long-Sought Higgs Boson
At a seminar held at CERN today (July 4) as a curtain raiser to the year’s major particle physics conference, ICHEP2012 in Melbourne, the ATLAS and CMS experiments presented their latest preliminary results in the search for the long sought Higgs particle. Both experiments observe a new particle in the mass region around 125-126 GeV. “We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of 5 sigma, in the mass region around 126 GeV.

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Paul Tomaszewski is the founder of and He enjoys programming and writing on topics such as technology, business, astronomy, and many more. He also has a personal blog called

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