Janice Dale

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Why your cat really loves treats

A newly sequenced cat genome sheds new light on the habits of our favorite felines<p>A cat’s genome has finally been sequenced, and there’s a reason our domesticated furry pals like treats so much.<p>Cats are relative newcomers to the domesticated human world, sauntering onto the scene 9,000 years ago, …

US scientists may have resolved 'Darwin's dilemma'

Charles Darwin worried about a possible hole in his theory of evolution, but some American scientists may just have plugged it. For about a billion years after the dawn of life on Earth, organisms didn't evolve all that much.<p>Then about 600 million years ago came the "Cambrian explosion." Everything …

APOD: Polar Ring Galaxy NGC 660 (2014 Nov 08) Image Credit: Gemini Observatory, AURA, Travis Rector (Univ. Alaska Anchorage) http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap141108.html Explanation: NGC 660 is featured in this cosmic snapshot, a sharp composite of broad and narrow band filter image data from the Gemini North telescope on Mauna Kea. Over 20 million light-years away and swimming within the boundaries of the constellation Pisces, NGC 660's peculiar appearance marks it as a polar ring galaxy. A rare galaxy type, polar ring galaxies have a substantial population of stars, gas, and dust orbiting in rings nearly perpendicular to the plane of the galactic disk. The bizarre-looking configuration could have been caused by the chance capture of material from a passing galaxy by a disk galaxy, with the captured debris eventually strung out in a rotating ring. The violent gravitational interaction would account for the myriad pinkish star forming regions scattered along NGC 660's ring. The polar ring component can also be used to explore the shape of the galaxy's otherwise unseen dark matter halo by calculating the dark matter's gravitational influence on the rotation of the ring and disk. Broader than the disk, NGC 660's ring spans over 50,000 light-years. http://www.gemini.edu/ http://www.aura-astronomy.org/ http://aftar.uaa.alaska.edu/ http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/ Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=141108 #APOD

APOD: The Cat's Eye Nebula from Hubble (2014 Nov 09) Image Credit: NASA, ESA, HEIC, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap141109.html Explanation: To some, it may look like a cat's eye. The alluring Cat's Eye nebula, however, lies three thousand light-years from Earth across interstellar space. A classic planetary nebula, the Cat's Eye (NGC 6543) represents a final, brief yet glorious phase in the life of a sun-like star. This nebula's dying central star may have produced the simple, outer pattern of dusty concentric shells by shrugging off outer layers in a series of regular convulsions. But the formation of the beautiful, more complex inner structures is not well understood. Seen so clearly in this digitally sharpened Hubble Space Telescope image, the truly cosmic eye is over half a light-year across. Of course, gazing into this Cat's Eye, astronomers may well be seeing the fate of our sun, destined to enter its own planetary nebula phase of evolution ... in about 5 billion years. http://www.nasa.gov/ http://www.esa.int/ESA http://www.spacetelescope.org/about_us/heic/ http://heritage.stsci.edu/ http://www.stsci.edu/ http://www.aura-astronomy.org/ Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=141109 #APOD