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Frogs and Toads
Hearing Whales
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A brain-boosting video game
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Chemistry and Materials
The metal detector in your mouth
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Fungus Hunt
Bald Eagles Forever
Finding the Past
Decoding a Beverage Jar
Chicken of the Sea
Ancient Cave Behavior
Angler Fish
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Food and Nutrition
Building a Food Pyramid
Symbols from the Stone Age
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GSAT English Rules
Subject and Verb Agreement
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Road Bumps
IceCube Science
Plants Travel Wind Highways
Farms sprout in cities
A Giant Flower's New Family
Snapping Turtles
Space and Astronomy
Zooming In on the Wild Sun
A Star's Belt of Dust and Rocks
Gravity Tractor as Asteroid Mover
Technology and Engineering
A Clean Getaway
Roll-Up Computer Monitors to Go
Machine Copy
The Parts of Speech
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Troubles with Hubble
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Big Galaxy Swallows Little Galaxy

It's hard to imagine being so hungry that you'd eat another person. Yet, cannibalism occurs among animals and elsewhere in nature. Even galaxies do it. Now, scientists have captured one of the best images yet of a distant galaxy in the act of swallowing a smaller neighbor. The discovery supports the theory that galaxies grow by consuming each other. Astronomers have long suspected that it's a galaxy-eat-galaxy world out there. Many massive galaxies, including our own Milky Way, are surrounded by stellar debris that looks like undigested remnants of smaller star systems. The most direct evidence yet for that idea comes from an image taken in April 2002 by a new camera on the Hubble Space Telescope. Australian astronomer Michael Beasley noticed a faint galaxy in the background of the image. Nearby, two star plumes seemed to be coming out of some kind of small blob. Further analyses and computer simulations revealed that a big galaxy, about the size of the Milky Way, was sucking material, visible as plumes, from a smaller galaxy. The objects are about 2 billion light-years from Earth. Astronomers think that galaxy cannibalism is common. It's just hard to see. Luckily, our own galaxy doesn't seem to be at risk of getting slurped up. Sometimes, it's nice to be the biggest kid on the block—at least until we slam into Andromeda, the nearest, large spiral galaxy in our own neighborhood. Then, it'll be like two big, evenly matched kids battling it out on the schoolyard.—E. Sohn

Big Galaxy Swallows Little Galaxy
Big Galaxy Swallows Little Galaxy

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