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News Briefs: Spot Me, Cosmic Slug

shutterstock parkinglotSPOT ME

The holidays are a time for giving. This year, they will not be a time of free parking.

Santa Cruz City Council decided this fall to discontinue the practice of bagging parking meters for the week before Christmas. The two-hour parking, which was meant to encourage local shopping, was often unenforced, making it almost impossible to find a spot anyway, according to city staff.

The city will instead donate this year’s expected $17,000 in parking revenue from this week to Hope Services, which employs the developmentally disabled workers who keep the sidewalks clean. JP

COSMIC SLUG

UCSC astronomers were recently honored for snapping off the first-ever image of one of the cosmic filaments on which galaxies are strewn.

Physics World, a monthly science magazine, listed the discovery among the top 10 scientific breakthroughs of 2014 (the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, which successfully landed on a comet last month, claimed first place). Many scientists say the universe has a cosmic web, where dense objects like galaxies are connected by filaments of cold gas, with dark voids between. But until this year, no one had actually seen the filaments.

The team, led by UCSC astronomers Sebastiano Cantalupo, J. Xavier Prochaska and Piero Madau, found the distant filament in January earlier this year. Radiation from a far-off quasar, a high-energy celestial object, had brought the nebula into view by causing it to glow. After taking its picture, the UCSC astronomers appropriately dubbed the filament the Slug Nebula. BB

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