Amazing Images: The Best Science Photos of the Week

Post 8811

Amazing Images: The Best Science Photos of the Week

By LiveScience Staff 4 hours ago

Each week we find the most interesting and informative articles we can and along the way we uncover amazing and cool images. Here you’ll discover incredible photos and the stories behind them.

Titanium cat

(Image credit: Kirill Kukhmar/TASS/Getty)

A hardy grey feline in Russia got a new lease on life after suffering from frostbite. The female cat, named “Dymka” (Russian for “mist”) was found in 2018, buried in the Siberian snow, with four frostbitten paws, ears and a tail.

The frostbite was so extensive that veterinarians had to amputate those limbs. But researchers at the Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) in Tomsk, Russia created specially-designed titanium paws for the cat, then fused them to her leg bones. The cyborg-like appendages combine titanium rods with flexible black “feet” with textured, grippy bottoms. The new limbs were implanted in July 2019. Just 7 months-later, scientists posted adorable video of Dymka stretching, playing and strolling.

[Read the full story: Cat with 4 frostbitten paws gets new feet made of titanium]

Extreme close-up of the sun

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope's first published image of the sun is the highest-resolution image of our star to date.

(Image credit: NSO/NSF/AURA)

The world’s largest telescope just took the highest resolution picture ever of our home star, and it looks just like caramel corn. The incredibly detailed image revealed details about the sun’s roiling magnetic field that previously only showed up as tiny specks. This gorgeous image of the sun was captured with the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST), perched high on the Haleakala mountain on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

The new telescope isn’t even fully completed yet, but when it comes online, it will delve into one of the sun’s biggest mysteries: Why the sun’s outer layer, called the corona, is hotter than its visible surface. Researchers unveiled the image during a news conference on Friday, Jan. 24.

[Read the full story: The sun looks like caramel corn in highest resolution ever image of our star]

Tiniest dinosaur

(Image credit: Chung-Tat Cheung)

Asking what’s the world’s tiniest dinosaur is a bit of a trick question. (Hint: birds are actually dinosaurs). But the tiniest known extinct dino was the wee feathered creature known as Ambopteryx longibrachium. This pint-sized specimen, found in northeastern China, measured a mere 13 inches (32 centimeters) long and weighed just 11 ounces (306 grams).

The Jurassic era creature sported thin, membranous wings like a bat. And it may not have prowled Jurassic skies alone; another bat-winged dino, Yi qi, also known the “dark knight” of the Jurassic, was also discovered in China. Yi qi had a wingspan of 23 inches (60 cm) and a weight of 13 ounces (380 grams).

[Read the full story: What’s the smallest dinosaur?]

Sky dunes

(Image credit: Kari Saari)

When skygazers in Finland trained their eyes on the heavens in 2018, they never expected to discover an entirely new phenomenon. But that’s exactly what happened when they noticed eerie, undulating waves of glowing green light.

The enthusiasts were part of a Facebook group dedicated to cataloguing and discussing aurora, and contacted an expert about the luminous light shows — Minna Palmroth, a professor of computational space physics at the University of Helsinki. When Palmroth saw images of these mesmerizing green dunes, she soon realized they had identified an entirely new type of aurora.

These gorgeous light shows, known as “the dunes,” occur when disturbances in the upper atmosphere, known as gravity waves, interact with aurora. Gravity waves move the molecules in the atmosphere around, creating alternating folds of oxygen-rich and oxygen-depleted sky. As charged particles from the sun slam into the atmosphere, the areas with more oxygen glow green, creating the alternating stripes characteristic of the dunes.

[Read the full story: Glowing green ‘dunes’ in the sky mesmerized skygazers. They turned out to be a new kind of aurora.]

Radioactive dino

(Image credit: Bordy et al, 2020)

Paleontologists in Utah uncovered the missing skull of a towering, meat-eating dinosaur.

The skeleton of this massive carnivore was first found in a hunk of rock so huge they needed explosives to excavate it and a helicopter to transport it. But when first discovered, the skeleton was missing its head. Scientists only found the skull later, using a radiation detector.

Dubbed Allosaurus jimmadseni, after paleontologist James Madsen Jr. (1932-2009), the primeval monster had horns over its eyes and 80 razor-sharp teeth.The fearsome predator grew up to 29 feet long (9 meters) and weighed 4,000 lbs. (1.8 metric tons). A. jimmadseni is the oldest allosaurs known to paleontologists, predating the other North American species by 5 million years. Researchers described the allosaurus in a Jan. 24 study in the journal PeerJ.

[Read the full story: Towering dinosaur with radioactive skull identified in Utah]

Doomsday Glacier

(Image credit: Rob Robbins/USAP Diver)

A torpedo-like robot named Icefin has ventured to Antarctica’s most dangerous glacier, and found something extremely troubling. The Thwaites glacier, nicknamed the Doomsday glacier because it is melting so fast, is bathing its underbelly in a sea of surprisingly warm water.

The water at the sea’s boundary is more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) warmer than freezing, according to news reports. That’s even worse than climate scientists expected, and spells trouble because Thwaites glacier not only accounts for a huge amount of sea level rise, but its floating ice sheets also keep the rest of the glacier from flowing into the sea.

[Read the full story: Surprisingly warm water found on underside of Antarctica’s ‘Doomsday Glacier’]

Mummies of Egyptian priests

(Image credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism)

A massive ancient Egyptian burial ground, filled not only with the mummies of high priests, but also the thousands of their “servants”, was found at the site of Tuna-el-Gebel.

The site includes at least 20 stone sarcophagi, 700 amulets and 10,000 “shabti” figurines, which were meant to serve the dead during the afterlife.

Officials with the Egyptian ministry of antiquities announced the finding on Thursday (Jan. 30) and they expect that many other mummies could be unearthed.

[Read the full story: Mummies of ancient Egyptian priests found buried with thousands of afterlife ‘servants’]

Farewell, Spitzer

Few cosmic vistas excite the imagination like the Orion Nebula, an immense stellar nursery some 1,500 light-years away.

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s best infrared eye in the sky, the Spitzer Space Telescope, was officially turned off on Thursday (Jan. 30) It winked on in 2003 and was meant to run for only 2.5 years, but ran more than a decade longer than that. During its 16-year run, the iconic telescope captured stunning images of the cosmos, discovered never-before seen rings around Saturn, and spotted exoplanets circling around the cool, red-dwarf star known as Trappist-1.

One of its most gorgeous snapshots is this ethereal image of the Orion nebula, taken in 2006.

This massive star factory, located 1500 light-years away from Earth, shows young hot stars glowing in red, along with still forming stars in a reddish hue.

Puffs of smoke

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

A camera onboard the Landsat-8 satellite captured this gorgeous image of ash and steam billowing out of Japan’s Nishinoshima volcanic island, about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) south of Tokyo, NASA’s Earth Observatory reported. During this recent activity, seen on Jan. 26, lava oozed into the ocean and sent steam plumes into the air near the coastline. Emissions from the volcanic island continued from Jan. 15 to Jan. 21. The tiny island is actually the submerged caldera (a volcanic depression) of the northern Volcano Islands of Japan. Calderas form as a result of giant eruptions, when loads of magma from below come to the surface and the land once held up by that mass sinks under its own weight.

Neon green spider

(Image credit: Anatoliy Ozernoy)

Scientists recently discovered a brilliant-green spider that uses math to weave its web. Because of the stunningly precise geometry of its webs, the team decided to name it after the “Lady Gaga of mathematics.”

The newly discovered spider, Araniella villanii, got its moniker from French mathematician Cédric Villani. Villani, who won math’s prestigious Fields medal in 2010, is known not only for his genius, but also for his sense of style.

The researchers who discovered the neon green spider decided to honor Villani in part because he always wears a spider pin on his lapel. The bright new spider was described Jan. 22 in the journal ZooKeys.

[Read the full story: Newly discovered neon-green spider named after the ‘Lady Gaga of mathematics’]

Tonga reefs

Scientists on the Global Reef Expedition conducted extensive research on the health and resiliency of coral reefs in the Kingdom of Tonga.

(Image credit: KSLOF/Ken Marks)

The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation just released a report on the health of coral reefs along the Kingdom of Tonga, a Polynesian archipelago made up of some 170 South Pacific islands. Many of the islands are uninhabited and surrounded by coral reefs. The extensive survey found that those reefs are “moderately healthy,” but the reef fish and the communities of invertebrates are in need of attention.

The scientists found that although the fish species appeared diverse, most were small, with very few large, commercially valuable fish, the researchers said in a statement. The teams also made recommendations, including the education of local fishermen about the importance of specially managed areas, as well as better documentation of fish catch and the fostering of sustainable fishing practices.

Brain balls

Fluorescent images illustrating cell types in brain organoids.

(Image credit: Pasca Lab, Stanford University)

Researchers reporting in the journal Science on Jan. 24 have created essentially mini brains, more specifically 3D models showing the development of the human forebrain (the front part of the brain that includes the thalamus and hypothalamus). They created these cool-looking models to study a process involving chromatin, which is the stuff our chromosomes are made of. They also looked at how genes were expressed in the forebrain. Their results mapped out the genetic risk of neurodevelopmental disease in certain cells during development.

[Read more about the research in the journal Science.]

Originally published on Live Science.

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