Astronomy

Astronomers Capture Stunning View of Open Cluster NGC 2367

This image shows the open star cluster NGC 2367. Image credit: ESO / G. Beccari.

Using the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-m telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, astronomers captured an extraordinary image of a young open star cluster called NGC 2367. This image shows the open star cluster NGC 2367. Image credit: ESO / G. Beccari. NGC 2367, otherwise known as C 0718-218, was discovered by Sir William Herschel on 20 November 1784. It is a bright star cluster located...

Space Exploration

New Horizons Captures Family Portrait of Pluto System

This family portrait, a composite of the Pluto system, includes the dwarf planet and its five known moons: Charon, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos and Styx. Image credit: NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Southwest Research Institute.

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has taken an amazing photo of Pluto and its five moons: Charon, Nix, Hydra, Styx and Kerberos. This family portrait, a composite of the Pluto system, includes the dwarf planet and its five known moons: Charon, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos and Styx. Image credit: NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Southwest Research Institute. Following a January...

Archaeology

Evidence Shows Prehistoric South Africans Used Milk-Based Paint 49,000 Years Ago

A 49,000-year-old stone flake from the Sibudu cave, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Scale bar - 1 cm. Image credit: Villa P et al.

A group of archaeologists headed by Dr Paola Villa from the University of Colorado Museum, Boulder, Colorado, has discovered a mixture of ochre and casein from milk dating to 49,000 years ago that Stone Age South Africans may have used to adorn themselves with or to decorate stone or wooden slabs. A 49,000-year-old stone flake from the Sibudu cave, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Scale bar – 1...

Paleontology

Huanansaurus ganzhouensis: New Feathered Dinosaur Discovered in China

An artist impression of Huanansaurus ganzhouensis. Image credit: Chuang Zhao.

A remarkable new genus and species of oviraptorid dinosaur has been unearthed in the Ganzhou area of Jiangxi Province, southern China. An artist impression of Huanansaurus ganzhouensis. Image credit: Chuang Zhao. The new dinosaur belongs to a group of feathered dinosaurs known as oviraptors. It has been given the official name Huanansaurus ganzhouensis. The genus name refers to Huanan (in Chinese...

Biology

Spiders Can Travel Across Oceans Like Ships, Scientists Say

Tetragnathid spider is using silk as anchor. Image credit: Alex Hyde.

According to a team of biologists headed by Dr Morito Hayashi of the Natural History Museum in London, UK, seafaring spiders use their legs as sails and their silk as an anchor. Tetragnathid spider is using silk as anchor. Image credit: Alex Hyde. Common spiders are frequently observed to fly using a technique called ballooning. Ballooning spiders are estimated to move up to 30 km per day when wind...

Physics

Physicists Chill Sodium-Potassium Molecules to Near Zero

In this artist’s illustration, the sodium-potassium molecule is represented with frozen spheres of ice merged together: the smaller sphere on the left represents a sodium atom, and the larger sphere on the right is a potassium atom. Image credit: Jose-Luis Olivares / MIT.

A team of physicists led by Prof Martin Zwierlein from Massachusetts Institute of Technology has cooled molecules of sodium-potassium (NaK), each consisting of a single sodium and potassium atom, to a temperature of 500 nanokelvins – very close to absolute zero and over a million times colder than interstellar space. In this artist’s illustration, the sodium-potassium molecule is represented...

Medicine

Scientists Discover New Genetic Form of Type 2 Diabetes

Prevalence of diabetes worldwide in 2000 (per 1,000 inhabitants). Image credit: Lokal_Profil / CC BY-SA 2.5.

A new inherited form of type 2 diabetes and obesity has been discovered by a team of scientists co-led by Dr Anthony Goldstone and Prof Alexandra Blakemore of Imperial College London, UK. Prevalence of diabetes worldwide in 2000 (per 1,000 inhabitants). Image credit: Lokal_Profil / CC BY-SA 2.5. A large number of genes are involved in regulating body weight, and there are now over 30 genes known...

Genetics

New Study Sheds Light on Evolutionary Biology of Woolly Mammoths

This is an artist’s rendition of a woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius). Image credit: Flying Puffin / CC BY-SA 2.0.

A new study led by Dr Vincent Lynch from the University of Chicago has identified extensive genetic changes responsible for what makes a woolly mammoth a woolly mammoth, including genes linked to skin and hair development, fat metabolism, insulin signaling, and even physical traits such as skull shape, small ears and short tails. As a test of function, Dr Lynch and co-authors resurrected a woolly...

Geology

Geologists Discover New Layer in Earth’s Mantle

A simplified image of a slab from one of Earth’s tectonic plates sinking through the upper mantle above, through the boundary between the upper and lower mantle 410 miles deep, then stalling and pooling at a depth of 930 miles, where the new study suggests the existence of an extremely viscous layer in Earth. Image credit: Lowell Miyagi / University of Utah.

New research led by Dr Hauke Marquardt of the University of Bayreuth, Germany, suggests the existence of a previously unknown superviscous layer inside our planet: part of the lower mantle where the rock gets 3 times stiffer. Such a layer may explain why tectonic plate slabs seem to pool at 930 miles (1,500 km) under Indonesia and South America’s Pacific coast. A simplified image of a slab from...

Other Sciences

Rats ‘Dream’ about Future, New Study Finds

Rats show regret too. Image credit: Duke University.

According to a new study published in the journal eLife, when rats (Rattus rattus) sleep or rest, their brains simulate journeys to a desired goal. Rats dream paths to a tasty treat. Image credit: Duke University. A team of scientists at University College London, UK, monitored brain activity in rats, first as the rodents viewed food in a location they could not reach, then as they rested in a separate...