News That Matters

Science

Hubble serves up two views of Lagoon Nebula

Hubble serves up two views of Lagoon Nebula

Science
April 19 (UPI) -- The Hubble Space Telescope celebrated its 28th anniversary with a double portrait of the Lagoon Nebula, a giant, oft-photographed interstellar cloud.The juxtaposed images, released Thursday by NASA, showcase the emissions nebula in two different spectral bands: one in visible light and the other rendered in near-infrared.The visible-light image showcases the nebula's gas and dust, while the near-infrared photograph reveals the multitude of stars found within.The two images reveal the two ingredients that make nebulas what they are: star-forming material and stars.Gas and dust are essentials to stellar formation, and as they fuel the formation of new stars, stellar winds contort the surrounding star-forming materials into a variety of textures and shapes -- nobs, columns, ...
Hole in cow's skull may be proof of early medical experimentation

Hole in cow's skull may be proof of early medical experimentation

Science
April 19 (UPI) -- More than 5,000 years ago, a group of people living in what's now France drilled a hole in a cow's head. Researchers believe the ancient bovine skull is the earliest evidence of animal surgery yet recovered.Scientists used advanced imaging to study the hole and determined it could not have been made by a violent encounter with another animal. Aside from the hole, the skull and related bones show no evidence of trauma. As such, scientists believe the hole was made purposefully by humans.Paleontologists and archaeologists have found similar holes in human skulls as old as 10,000 years."I have analyzed many, many human skulls ... all from the neolithic period and they all show the same techniques -- and the technique you can observe in the cow's skull [is] the same," Fernand...
Martian moons Phobos and Deimos carved out by violent impact

Martian moons Phobos and Deimos carved out by violent impact

Science
April 18 (UPI) -- The Martian moons Phobos and Deimos were formed after a large object struck the Red Planet a few billion years ago, according to a new model developed by scientists at the Southwest Research Institute.Scientists have considered a number of origin scenarios for Phobos and Deimos, including the possibility that the satellites are asteroids captured by Mars' gravity.The most promising formation theory is one involving an impact and an equatorial disk of debris. The two small moons formed from the disk of rocky fragments. But until now, attempts to model such a scenario have failed to convince."Ours is the first self-consistent model to identify the type of impact needed to lead to the formation of Mars' two small moons," Robin Canup, an associate vice president in the SwRI S...
Heatwaves 'cook' Great Barrier Reef corals

Heatwaves 'cook' Great Barrier Reef corals

Science
Prolonged ocean warming events, known as marine heatwaves, take a significant toll on the complex ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef.This is according to a new study on the impacts of the 2016 marine heatwave, published in Nature.In surveying the 3,863 individual reefs that make up the system off Australia's north-east coast, scientists found that 29% of communities were affected.In some cases up to 90% of coral died, in a process known as bleaching.This occurs when the stress of elevated temperatures causes a breakdown of the coral's symbiotic relationship with its algae, which provide the coral with energy to survive, and give the reef its distinctive colours. Certain coral species are more susceptible to this heat-induced stress, and the 2016 marine heatwave saw the death of many tabul...
Meteorite diamonds 'came from lost planet'

Meteorite diamonds 'came from lost planet'

Science
A diamond-bearing space rock that exploded in Earth's atmosphere in 2008 was part of a lost planet from the early Solar System, a study suggests.The parent "proto-planet" would have existed billions of years ago before breaking up in a collision and was about as large as Mercury or Mars.A team has published their results in the journal Nature Communications.They argue that the pressures necessary to produce diamonds of this kind could only occur in planet of this size.Using three different types of microscopy, the researchers characterised the mineral and chemical make-up of the diamond-bearing rocks left scattered in the Nubian desert of northern Sudan after the asteroid 2008 TC3 hit the atmosphere.Some of the material trapped in the diamond since formation (features known as inclusions) ...