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article imageOp-Ed: Top space stories of 2011 – Many more to come in 2012

By Andrew Moran     Dec 31, 2011 in Science
Toronto - Every day, physicists, astronomers and scientists discover something new about the universe we live – and beyond. What were some of the top out-of-this-world space stories of the year?
The universe is, indeed, a fascinating place. Space is filled with both life and death. Scientists and experts have been attempting to gather the attention of the general public with easy to understand documentaries, initiatives and even answering questions – especially about the doomsday scenarios of 2012.
Digital Journal has produced many popular space stories of 2011. Other news agencies have also published content that has made many of its readers think about the endless possibilities of our solar system, galaxy and universe.
I have put together the top 10 space stories of 2011 that reporters here at Digital Journal have put together. Many of these articles have excited my imagination and prompted me to probe deeper into these issues.
Over the years, I have read many astronomy and physics books by such renowned authors as Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku. I have also viewed hundreds of documentaries discussing quantum physics, other dimensions, “physics of the impossible” and the origin of everything we have come to known.
I must admit that I have learned more about the universe through reading these books and watching these videos then I ever did throughout my studies in elementary, secondary and post-secondary studies.
Coronal Mass Ejection as viewed by the Solar Dynamics Observatory on June 7  2011.
Coronal Mass Ejection as viewed by the Solar Dynamics Observatory on June 7, 2011.
NASA
Here are the top 10 space stories:
10) Tsunami of solar flares heading to Earth, may disrupt satellites – Jun. 8
A "dramatic" solar flare has erupted from the sun, which has created spectacular images captured by NASA's observatories. Scientists believe it won't have a significant impact on Earth, but some communications satellites could be disrupted.
9) Star evaporating five million tons of planet's matter per second – Sept. 13
Data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope shows that a nearby star is blasting a neighboring planet with X-rays 100,000 times more intense than the Earth receives from our sun.
8) 'Supermoon' provides rare spectacle for 7 billion people – Mar. 19
Professional and amateur stargazers gathered in empty spaces around the globe to watch the moon light up the sky Saturday night. The Earth's guardian appeared approximately 14 percent bigger and more than 30 percent brighter.
A shot of the Supermoon seen from uptown Toronto.
A shot of the Supermoon seen from uptown Toronto.
7) NASA confirms antimatter production in thunderstorms – Jan. 13
NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has detected the creation of antimatter particles during thunderstorms in earth's atmosphere.
6) Meteorites brought building blocks of life to earth – Aug. 8
Scientists studying meteorites -- space rocks big enough to survive the tumble to earth, carrying chemicals that swirled in our solar system's primeval days -- announced they identified life's building blocks on carbonaceous chondrite samples.
5) First picture of Mercury's surface released by NASA – Mar. 29
Officials from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released early Tuesday morning the very first picture of the surface of the planet Mercury taken by the spacecraft Messenger.
4) ESO astronomers discover super-Earth that could harbour life – Sept. 13
Astronomers, utilizing the European Southern Observatory's HARPS at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, have discovered a total of 50 exoplanets, including 16 super-Earths, orbiting nearby stars. This is the largest number presented at one time.
3) Black hole eradicates star, blasts 3.8 billion light-year beam – Jun. 20
This illustration shows the alien planet around pulsar PSR J1719-1438
This illustration shows the alien planet around pulsar PSR J1719-1438
Swineburne University
Scientists at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom have observed a gargantuan black hole that ripped apart a sun-like star that wandered too close. This created a beam that crossed 3.8 billion light-years to Earth.
2) International scientists discover alien planet made of diamond – Aug. 26
An international research team has stumbled upon an alien planet in our Milky Way galaxy that was once a massive star and is now made of diamond. The planet is located close to a pulsar and orbits the star in just two hours and 10 minutes.
1) Physicists to conduct first observational test of the multiverse – Aug. 3
Theoretical physicists in Great Britain are now conducting tests for the very first time to find evidence of multiple alternative universes, otherwise known as a multiverse. A team of cosmologists will search the cosmic microwave background radiation.
With many discoveries occurring nearly on a daily basis, there are many more space stories to come within the coming year. Although the world won’t be ending in December, our civilization will persist in making advancements in our understanding of the heavens.
Digital Journal will keep you up-to-date.
“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.” – Albert Einstein
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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