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Physics

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molecules

PLAYING IT COOL  Molecules are reluctant to chill out, but scientists have taken a step toward making them ultracold. Physicists chilled molecules below a temperature barrier, using lasers and magnetic fields to trap and slow the molecules.

Sun halos

SQUARED OFF  Halos around the sun may appear when cube-shaped ice crystals in clouds in the upper atmosphere scatter light (left). In the lab, nearly cubic ice crystals scatter X-rays into similar-looking concentric circles (right).

illustration of colliding neutron stars

CRASH AND FLASH  Rumors suggest that LIGO may have detected gravitational waves from a new source: colliding neutron stars (illustrated). Such cataclysms are expected to generate a high-energy flash of light, called a gamma-ray burst (yellow jets). Several telescopes made observations seemingly in search of light from such events. 

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