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'Eye of Sauron' black hole helps astronomers measure cosmic distances

Eye od Sauron black holeThanks to the "Eye of Sauron" black hole, researchers have developed a new way to measure large cosmic distances. The supermassive black hole sits in the middle of an active galaxy known as NGC 4151 -- a galaxy that resembles the fiery red evil eye of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films.

An intimate understanding of how black holes behave is key to the new measurement technique. Astronomers know that nearby gas is constantly being sucked into active black holes. As it's pulled inward, the gas heats up and emits ultraviolet radiation. That heated gas transfers its heat to a ring of dust that orbits the black hole.

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Fossil hunters unearth galloping, dinosaur-eating crocodiles in Sahara

Fossil crocFossil hunters have uncovered the remains of primitive crocodiles that "galloped" on land and patrolled the broad rivers that coursed through north Africa one hundred million years ago.

The skeletons of five creatures that walked with dinosaurs – and ate them – were unearthed in remote and rocky regions of what are now Morocco and Niger during a series of expeditions in the Sahara desert.

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CERN Scientists Discover 2 New Subatomic Particles

new particle discoveredScientists at the world's largest smasher said Wednesday they have discovered two new subatomic particles never seen before that could widen our understanding of the universe.

An experiment using the European Organization for Nuclear Research's Large Hadron Collider found the new particles, which were predicted to exist, and are both baryons made from three quarks bound together by a strong force.

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Touchdown! Rosetta’s Philae probe lands on comet

Touchdown! Rosetta landing ESA’s Rosetta mission has soft-landed its Philae probe on a comet, the first time in history that such an extraordinary feat has been achieved.

After a tense wait during the seven-hour descent to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the signal confirming the successful touchdown arrived on Earth at 16:03 GMT (17:03 CET).

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9,300-year-old mummified bison discovered in Siberia

Siberian bison mummyMembers of the Yukagir tribe in Siberia discovered a 9,300-year-old frozen bison mummy complete with all its organs and even some fur.

Details of the necropsy of the animal, which was discovered in 2011, were presented recently at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology's annual meeting in Berlin.  The animal, dubbed the Yukagir bison mummy, is a steppe bison or bison priscus, which went extinct after the Ice Age. Never has a steppe bison mummy been found so complete.

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Astronomers Capture Beautiful Image Of Distant Planets Forming

new planet formingAt the very center of the image above is the sun-like star HL Tau, surrounded by rings of dust and gas. You may never have heard of HL Tau, but this picture will go down in the astronomic annals as the first high-resolution image of the birth of a planetary system.

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international observatory in northern Chile, scientists were able to capture this image, showcasing the early stages of a planetary system forming around HL Tau—a celestial ultrasound of a distant solar system..

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'Odd' rodent-like skull could help crack mystery of when mammals emerged

Rodent-like skull discoveredScientists have found a complete mammal skull from the time of the dinosaurs – a remarkable find that might offer a window into the dawn of mammals on Earth.

Madagascar, long known for an bizarre assortment of dinosaurs and early mammals, has yielded up another unusual creature – one that could help researchers figure out how long mammals truly have trod the Earth.

An international team of scientists has uncovered a virtually complete skull of an animal they've named Vintana sertichi. Its traits place it within a group of mammals known as Gondwanatheria.

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