How a hidden ocean circulates beneath the Antarctic ice
Jul 2, 2020

By Craig Stevens and Christina Hulbe Jules Verne sent his fictional submarine, the Nautilus, to the South Pole through a hidden ocean beneath a thick ice cap. Written 40 years before any explorer had reached the pole, his story was nevertheless only half fiction. There are indeed hidden ocean cavities around Antarctica, and our latest research explores …

A Massive Star Has Disappeared From a Distant Galaxy, And No One’s Sure Where It Went
Jul 1, 2020

By Michelle Starr Massive stars aren’t like your car keys. They’re not going to disappear under a pile of mail on your kitchen counter, or end up in the washing machine. But a massive star that astronomers were observing for a decade now appears to be totally missing. The star, in the very late stages …

How Do Flying Snakes Glide Through the Air? ‘It’s Hard to Believe’
Jun 30, 2020

By David Waldstein Jake Socha is an expert on flying snakes who uses detailed scientific terminology such as “this big, wiggly, ribbon thing” to describe his soaring quarry. It is an apt description, but don’t be fooled. When a snake launches off a tree in its Southeast Asian habitat and lands on another tree dozens …

Betelgeuse’s Mystery Dimming Caused By A Star Spot A Hundred Times Larger Than The Sun, Say Scientists
Jun 29, 2020

By Jamie Carter Betelgeuse, the closest red supergiant star to us, is growing a super-sized star spot as it cools down at the end of its life, according to a new study. A massive star spot a hundred times larger than the Sun could explain its recent odd behavior. Betelgeuse—pronounced “betelgerz” or “beetlejuice” and also known …

CRISPR gene editing in human embryos wreaks chromosomal mayhem
Jun 26, 2020

By Heidi Ledford A suite of experiments that use the gene-editing tool CRISPR–Cas9 to modify human embryos have revealed how the process can make large, unwanted changes to the genome at or near the target site. The studies were published this month on the preprint server bioRxiv, and have not yet been peer-reviewed1,2,3. But taken together, they …

Colliding black holes may have created a surprising flare of light
Jun 25, 2020

By Emily Conover In spite of their dark reputations, two black holes may have set off a cosmic light show. Subtle gravitational rumbles from a collision of two black holes may have been accompanied by a flare of light about a month later, physicists report June 25 in Physical Review Letters. It’s a surprising conclusion given …

Summer Solstice 2020 and the Search for Life in the Galaxy
Jun 24, 2020

By Shannon Hall This article, originally published in 2018, has been updated to reflect 2020’s solstice date. On the summer solstice this Saturday, the Northern Hemisphere will dip toward the sun and bathe in direct sunlight for longer than any other day of the year. That will cause the sun to rise early, climb high …

The First Gene on Earth May Have Been a Hybrid
Jun 23, 2020

By Andy Extance DNA and RNA, the two major modern forms of genetic code underpinning all of earthly biology, could have coexisted in strict pairings on our planet before life arose here, scientists in England, Scotland and Poland say. Using a hydrogen cyanide–based chemical system intended to mimic conditions in Earth’s early history, the researchers …

‘Black neutron star’ discovery baffles astronomers
Jun 23, 2020

By Pallab Ghosh Scientists have discovered an astronomical object that has never been observed before. The object is more massive than collapsed stars, known as “neutron stars”, but lighter than black holes. Such “black neutron stars” were not thought possible and will mean ideas for how neutron stars and black holes form will need to …

Why some physicists really think there’s a ‘mirror universe’ hiding in space-time
Jun 22, 2020

By Rafi Letzter A series of viral articles claimed that NASA had discovered particles from another parallel universe in which time runs backward. These claims were incorrect. The true story is far more exciting and strange, involving a journey into the Big Bang and out the other side. The sensational headlines had muddled the findings of an …

Hubble Captures Heartbreaking Images of Dying Stars
Jun 19, 2020 · 1 

By Victor Tangerman A new study sheds reveals the spectacular final stages of stars nearing the end of their lives. Using fresh observations of two distant nebulas collected in multi-wavelength form by NASA’s Hubble space telescope, a team of astronomers made several new discoveries about what stars go through as they die. “These new multi-wavelength …

Scientists have grown mini brains containing Neanderthal DNA
Jun 18, 2020

By Katie Hunt We now know that many of us are part Neanderthal, with our genes carrying traces of past encounters between our early ancestors and the Stone Age hominins that populated Europe until around 40,000 years ago. The evidence that early humans interbred with Neanderthals emerged in 2010 after scientists led by geneticist Svante Pääbo pioneered methods to extract, …