Universe Today #833 - May 3, 2004
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VENUS BRIGHTEST THIS WEEK
May 3, 2004 - Already blazing in the Western sky, Venus reaches its brightest this week before it begins to dim again. At magnitude -4.5, it's 8 times brighter than Jupiter (-2.3) and 23 times brighter than Sirius (-1.1); it can even cast faint shadows. Venus is so bright right now because it's only 72 million kilometres away. This is the time when so many people make calls to 9-1-1 because they think it's a UFO in the night sky.
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RIDING THE POLLUTION TRAIN
May 3, 2004 - NASA satellites have helped scientists understand how pollution in Asia catches an express train ride on winds to travel all the way to the southern Atlantic Ocean; as much as half of pollution in the region could be from Asia. Scientists used data from two satellites and high-altitude balloons to spot the situations where near-surface smog from human pollution and natural forest fires "catches the train", and travels thousands of kilometres.
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NEW EXPLAINATION FOR COSMIC RAYS
May 3, 2004 - Scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have come up with a new theory to help explain how giant radio galaxies could create cosmic rays; through a process called magnetic field reconnection. According to this theory, the magnetic field lines of the supermassive black holes at the heart of these galaxies connect and vanish, converting the energy of the field into a spray of particles. Cosmic rays are a mystery to astronomers because they have so much energy, there doesn't seem to be anything in the Universe that could propel them.
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