Water and CO molecules found in a galaxy light years away, and how black holes are gaining in mass

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Representative image of a black hole. | Wikimedia Commons

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New Delhi: Scientists using the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA) – a telescope that observes electromagnetic radiation at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths – were studying a galaxy known as SPT0311-58, when they found molecules of water and carbon monoxide in the galaxy located nearly 12.88 billion light years from Earth.

SPT0311-58 is actually made up of two galaxies and was first seen by scientists at ALMA in 2017. Scientists believe that the two galaxies could merge and that their rapid star formation does not only exhaust their gas or their fuel. , but that it could eventually evolve the pair into massive elliptical galaxies. Read more here.

Glass with an alien touch found in Atacama

About 12,000 years ago, a vast expanse of sand in Chile’s Atacama Desert was scorched by such intense heat that it turned into slabs of silicate glass.

Now, a team from Brown University in the United States has discovered that samples of desert glass contain tiny fragments of minerals often found in rocks of extraterrestrial origin.

These minerals closely match the composition of matter returned to Earth by a comet called Wild 2 in 2004.

The team thus concluded that the mineral assemblages found at Atacama are likely the remains of an alien object.

This is the first evidence of glass on Earth created by thermal radiation and winds from a fireball exploding just above the surface.

Glass slabs are concentrated in slabs across the Atacama Desert. Fields of dark green or black glass appear in a corridor stretching for about 75 kilometers. There is no evidence to show that the glass plates could have been created by volcanic activity. Read more here.

Covid infection is widespread among deer in the United States

Scientists who studied hundreds of white-tailed deer infected with the coronavirus in the United States found that the animals had been infected by humans and then quickly spread the disease among them.

Up to 80% of deer sampled from April 2020 to January 2021 in the state of Iowa have been infected, according to a new study done this week.

While the team has yet to identify how the deer contracted the virus from humans, the findings have worrying implications for the pandemic.

While there is still no evidence to suggest that deer could have transmitted the virus to humans, widespread infection among other species would make eradication of the virus more difficult, as this creates a possibility that other species become reservoirs of the virus. This would mean that without our knowledge, the coronavirus could continue to mutate in these animals, and possibly spread to humans.

The study has not yet been peer-reviewed, but researchers and Iowa wildlife officials are warning deer hunters and others who handle deer to take precautions to avoid transmission. Read more here.


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Black holes are growing in mass as the universe expands

Scientists have proposed a new theory based on gravitational wave data that suggests that as the universe expands, black holes gain in mass.

In 2015, the LIGO installation – the gravitational wave detector – carried out the very first detection of gravitational waves – which are ripples in the fabric of space-time – a discovery that opened up a new avenue of research. .

The most common explanation for large masses of blacholes is that they develop by swallowing matter, including dust, gas, stars, or other black holes. However, researchers in the new study have now proposed that black hole masses could grow as the universe expands, an effect the team calls cosmological coupling.

The team simulated millions of star pairs through their birth, life, and death to form black holes, but they also took into account the expanding universe. They found that the pairs of black holes became more and more massive over time.

Predictions agree with data from the LIGO-Virgo collaboration, which collects data on gravitational waves. Read more here.

Less than 2% of the Great Barrier Reef has escaped bleaching

Less than 2% of coral reefs in Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef have escaped bleaching since 1998, a finding that dispels the myth that corals could escape global warming long enough for them to recover.

The world’s largest coral reef system has undergone five massive bleaching episodes since 1998. Coral bleaching is caused by rising ocean temperatures due to the burning of fossil fuels.

Researchers at James Cook University found that only 1.7% of individual reefs had avoided bleaching. Almost all of the places that escaped damage were in an area known as the Swain Reefs in the southern part of the World Heritage Marine Park.

Some reef experts are hoping the cooler areas will serve as havens for bleaching, but according to the latest research, these areas have also experienced severe or moderate bleaching at least once.

When corals stay too long in unusually warm water, they separate from the algae which gives them most of their food and color. In extreme cases, this bleaching can kill the coral. Read more here.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)


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