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The still of the night is not so still.
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 Things that go boom in the night: Nova, Supernova, Hypernovae (Gamma-Ray Bursts):

Giant stars die when their cores implode under their own gravity, triggering a massive thermonuclear explosion (supernova) in their outer layers. The supernova can be brighter than a billion suns briefly outshining all the stars in the observable universe (hypernova or Gamma-ray burst). In some multiple star systems, strong gravity from the dense core of a dead star can siphon gas from a nearby companion star. When enough gas accumulates on the surface of the dead star, a runaway nuclear explosion occurs (nova). See some of our most popular stories about Novas, Supernovas, and Hypernovas below:

Artist's concept of supernovaScientists Say Supernova Imminent
Three blasts might be early alert systems for star explosions called supernovae, which could start appearing any day now.
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Artist's concept of the Swift satellite detecting a gamma ray burst New NASA Satellite to Study Black Hole Birth and Gamma Ray Bursts
NASA's Swift mission is dedicated to studying the gamma-ray burst/black hole connection.
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Cosmic Vacuum Cleaners: Black Holes

Black holes are objects with gravity so intense that nothing can escape, not even light, once it crosses the black hole's boundary. By observing how matter behaves near black holes, scientists glimpse gravity at its most extreme. This may give insight into new physical laws. See some of our most popular stories about Black Holes below:

Artists concept of a black hole Feeding a Galactic Dragon
A team of radio astronomers has obtained the most detailed view yet of the fuel that feeds a monstrous black hole.
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Chandra Xray observation of the central region of the Perseus galaxy cluster. X-ray Image: NASA/CXC/IoA/A.Fabian et al.Interpreting the 'Song' Of a Distant Black Hole
Astronomers in England have discovered a singing black hole in a distant cluster of galaxies.

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Stellar metropolis: Galaxies and Galaxy Formation

Galaxies are "cities" of billions to trillions of stars, along with gas and dust, all held together by mutual gravity. Many galaxies, including our own Milky Way, have grown bigger by "cannibalizing" smaller galaxies. When smaller galaxies wander too close, gravity from the larger galaxy tears it apart and pulls some of it in. These cosmic pile-ups actually bring new life to the larger galaxy. Although colliding galaxies sound perilous, stars rarely collide because interstellar distances are so great. However, the interstellar clouds do, because they are so much bigger. This triggers their collapse, and an intense round of star birth results. Astronomers are not sure exactly how or when the first galaxies were formed, or how galaxies evolve. See some of our most popular stories about Galaxy Formation:

Largest galaxy collision spotted by XMM Telescope Massive Merger of Galaxies is the Most Powerful on Record
Scientists have now officially witnessed the perfect cosmic storm.

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Hubble spots farthest galaxyHubble & Keck Teams Find Farthest Known Galaxy in Universe
An international team of astronomers may have set a new record in discovering what is the most distant known galaxy in the universe.

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 Still image from the Binary Merger animation.
The Swift Mission's Incredible Animations
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Editor: Lynn Jenner
NASA Official: Brian Dunbar
Last Updated: February 23, 2008
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