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SOHO anniversary
10 years ago: The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, a joint European and American Sun-watching probe, blasts off from Cape Canaveral aboard a Lockheed Martin Atlas 2AS rocket.

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Huygens science results
The European Space Agency's Huygens probe, launched from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, descended through the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan and landed on its mysterious surface in January. Scientists hold this news briefing to report on new results from the daring mission.

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Mars Express update
Project scientists working on the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft now orbiting the Red Planet hold a news conference to announce some interesting results from the ongoing mission.

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Hubble Space Telescope
Scientists marvel at the achievements made by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope in this produced movie looking at the crown jewel observatory that has served as our window on the universe.

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An American in orbit
Mercury astronaut John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth on February 20, 1962, when he is launched aboard Friendship 7.

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Space Thanksgiving
International Space Station commander Bill McArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev mark the Thanksgiving holiday in orbit during this downlinked message.

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Soyuz on the move
Expedition 12 Soyuz commander Valery Tokarev and station commander Bill McArthur temporarily leave the International Space Station. They undocked their Soyuz capsule from the Pirs module and then redocked the craft to the nearby Zarya module. The move clears Pirs for use as the airlock for an upcoming Russian-based spacewalk.

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Pluto New Horizons
Check out NASA's Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft undergoing thermal blanket installation inside the cleanroom at Kennedy Space Center's Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility in preparation for launch in January from the Cape.

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Mountains of creation
A new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope reveals billowing mountains of dust ablaze with the fires of stellar youth. The majestic infrared view from Spitzer resembles the iconic "Pillars of Creation" picture taken of the Eagle Nebula in visible light by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

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Chandra proves black hole influence is far reaching
Posted: December 3, 2005

Scientists using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have discovered evidence of energetic plumes - particles that extend 300,000 light years into a massive cluster of galaxies. The plumes are due to explosive venting from the vicinity of a supermassive black hole, and they provide dramatic new evidence of the influence a black hole can have over intergalactic distances.

An accumulation of 270 hours of Chandra observations of the central regions of the Perseus galaxy cluster reveals evidence of the turmoil that has wracked the cluster for hundreds of millions of years. One of the most massive objects in the universe, the cluster contains thousands of galaxies immersed in a vast cloud of multimillion degree gas with the mass equivalent of trillions of suns. Credit: NASA/CXC/IoA/A.Fabian et al.
"In relative terms, it is as if a heat source the size of a fingernail affects the behavior of a region the size of Earth," said Andrew Fabian of Cambridge University, U.K. Fabian is lead author of a report on this research that will appear in an upcoming issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Fabian's group discovered the plumes by studying data from 280 hours (more than 1 million seconds) of Chandra observations of the Perseus cluster, the longest X-ray observation ever taken of a galaxy cluster. The cluster contains thousands of galaxies immersed in a vast cloud of multi-million degree gas with the mass equivalent of trillions of suns.

The plumes showed up in the X-ray data as low pressure regions in the hot gas extending outward from the giant galaxy in the center of the cluster. The low gas pressure measured in the plumes is likely the result of the displacement of the gas by bubbles of unseen high-energy particles.

The bubbles appear to be generated by high-speed jets blasting away from the vicinity of the giant galaxy's supermassive black hole. Individual bubbles seen in the inner regions expand and merge to create vast plumes at larger distances.

"The plumes show that the black hole has been venting for at least 100 million years, and probably much longer," said co-author Jeremy Sanders also of Cambridge University.

The venting produces sound waves which heat the gas throughout the inner regions of the cluster and prevent the gas from cooling and making stars at a large rate. This process has slowed the growth of the central galaxy in the cluster, NGC 1275, which is one of the largest galaxies in the universe.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for the agency's Science Mission Directorate. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls science and flight operations from the Chandra X-ray Center in Cambridge, Mass.