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The Search for Vulcan

It’s 50 years since American television viewers first sat down to watch Star Trek, and its popular character Mr Spock, from the distant planet Vulcan. A century earlier, though, many respected astronomers believed that a real planet Vulcan existed within our own solar system – and it took the genius of Albert Einstein to ultimately […]

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Two Sides of the Same Coin

When the team at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced, in February 2016, that they had detected ripples in the fabric of spacetime – aka gravitational waves – it was final confirmation of a theory which physicists and astronomers had been discussing ever since the publication of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity back in 1915. […]

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Exploring the Dynamic Sky

It ranks among the most important images ever produced by astronomers. The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) showed that an incredibly small patch of sky in the constellation Fornax, thought to have nothing in it, was in fact filled with thousands of distant galaxies, the earliest of which had formed within half a billion years […]

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From Planet Killer to Discoverer

Mike Brown is famous as the man who ‘demoted’ Pluto from being the Solar System’s ninth planet. Could he now have found evidence for its replacement? We spoke to him to find out. Since 1988, astronomers have detected more than 2,000 planets orbiting distant stars, and it’s a sign of how common this process has […]

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20 Incredible NASA Projects

Squid-like amphibious rovers exploring Jupiter’s ocean-harbouring moon Europa. “Windbots” flying through the atmospheres of Saturn, drawing energy from the gas giant’s magnetic fields and powerful winds. Concentrated sunlight used to extract water from asteroids. Sound like crazy science fiction? Well, NASA thinks otherwise. Earlier this year, the American space agency announced it was ploughing around […]

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What’s That Space Rock?

[The Apollo astronauts who visited the Moon between 1969 and 1972 remain among the most travelled humans in history, but they didn’t exactly follow the  environmentalists’ maxim of “take only memories, leave only footprints”. Between them, NASA’s six successful lunar missions brought back 2,415 samples of Moon rock – totalling 380.05 kg (837.87 lbs), or […]

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Isaac Newton; Pocket Giants

Some 300 years before Stephen Hawking wrote A Brief History of Time, an earlier holder of the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge published a book which, according to author Andrew May, proved just as fashionable to own, if not necessarily to read or understand. That book was Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica […]

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