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Comet Defies Death, Brushes Up to Sun and Lives

A small comet survived what astronomers figured would be a sure death when it danced uncomfortably close to the broiling sun.

Comet Lovejoy, which was only discovered a couple of weeks ago, was supposed to melt Thursday night when it came close to where temperatures hit several million degrees. Astronomers had tracked 2,000 other sun-grazing comets make the same suicidal trip. None had ever survived.

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Study Shows Doomed Gas Cloud Rushing Toward Black Hole

Astronomers have spied a giant gas cloud with several times the mass of Earth accelerating toward the supermassive black hole at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy.

The doomed cloud has a rendezvous with oblivion in mid-2013, when it will pass within 40 billion kilometers -- a hair's breadth on astronomical scales -- of the voracious, matter-sucking void, according to a study to be published in Nature on January 5.

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Scientists Find Answer to Supernova Riddle

The discovery of a supernova only hours after its explosion has probably solved a long-standing mystery on the origin of the brightest known phenomena in the Universe, scientists reported Wednesday.

On August 24, scientists witnessed the spectacular eruption of light and energy thrown off by the birth of SN 2011fe, the brightest and -- at a mere 20.9 million light years away -- closest-to-Earth supernova in over 25 years.

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'Elvis' Monkey, Psychedelic Gecko Found in SE Asia

A psychedelic gecko and a monkey with an "Elvis" hairdo are among 208 new species described last year by scientists in the Mekong River region of Southeast Asia, a conservation group announced Monday.

The animals were discovered in a biodiverse region that is threatened by habitat loss, deforestation, climate change and overdevelopment, the WWF said in a report.

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NASA at Work on 'Spearfishing' for Comets

The U.S. space agency is developing a high-tech harpoon that could one day pierce a comet and grab samples for scientists on Earth to study for hints about how the universe formed.

The idea borrows on a concept developed by the European Space Agency but adds a sample chamber to the spear so it can capture dust from a fast-moving, ice-spewing comet by hovering near it and launching the space harpoon.

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Scientists Narrow Search for 'God Particle'

Physicists said on Tuesday that they had narrowed the search for the elusive sub-atomic Higgs boson particle that would confirm the way science describes the Universe.

Experiments at Europe's giant atom smasher have "reduced the window where scientists think they will find the Higgs boson," also known as the God Particle, said Bruno Mansoulie, a researcher at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

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Same-Sex Penguin Pair Find Female Partners

It appears a female has come between one of Canada's celebrity couples.

Toronto's zoo split up a pair of male penguins whose affection for each other drew headlines last month and jokes about "Brokeback Iceberg."

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Study Shows Life Possible on 'Large Parts' of Mars

Australian scientists who modeled conditions on Mars to examine how much of the red planet was habitable said Monday that "large regions" could sustain life.

Charley Lineweaver's team, from the Australian National University, compared models of temperature and pressure conditions on Earth with those on Mars to estimate how much of the distant planet was livable for Earth-like organisms.

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Japan Launches New Spy Satellite

Japan launched a new spy satellite into orbit Monday amid concerns over North Korea's missile program and to monitor natural disasters in the region, officials said.

The Japanese H-2A rocket carrying an information-gathering radar satellite lifted off at 10:21 am (0121 GMT) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan.

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WWF Says Species, and Threats Grow in Mekong Region

Scientists identify a new species every two days in the Greater Mekong region, the WWF said Monday, in a report detailing 2010's more unusual finds such as a leaf warbler and a self-cloning lizard.

But the conservation group warned some species could disappear before they are ever recorded because of man-made pressures in the Southeast Asian area, described in the report as "one of the last frontiers" for new discoveries.

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