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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY

Supernova 'Shock Breakout' Seen From Red Giant - A First

from National Geographic News

The ultraviolet flash that signals the explosion of a red supergiant star has been detected by astronomers for the first time.

"We have witnessed the violent death of a massive star in a galaxy almost a billion light-years away in unprecedented detail," said study team member Kevin Schawinski, an astrophysicist at the University of Oxford in the U.K.

The discovery comes just weeks after an independent team reported the first sighting of x-ray light from a star just as it was beginning to explode. Seeing such "first light" from supernovae could help astronomers better understand what's happening inside massive stars in their final moments.

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PODCASTS: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays

CREAM Inflating

Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica to study particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere.

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