Asteroid Bennu Could Shed Light on How Ingredients for Life Reached Earth | Smart News

A series of studies published last week in the journals Science and Science Advances offer a new, detailed look at the makeup of a small asteroid called Bennu. The studies come just before NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft plans to pick up a sample from the asteroid’s surface on October 20 and return with it to Earth in 2023.

Before the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft reached the asteroid in 2018, astronomers could only study it with telescopes that couldn’t make out details smaller than cities or states, Michael Greshko reports for National Geographic. OSIRIS-REx allows astronomers to map details the size of basketball courts, sheets of paper and postage stamps, depending on the imaging tool they used.

“The reason there’s so much interest in asteroids is a lot of them are very primitive, from when the Solar System formed, and they didn’t change with wind and water, or weather like on Earth,” planetary

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Newly found dinosaur fossils shed light on toothless, two-fingered species

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Here’s a look at what the Oksoko avarsan dinosaurs might have looked like way back when.


Michael W. Skrepnick

Newly discovered fossils of a toothless, parrot-like dinosaur species that lived more than 68 million years ago reveal a creature with two fingers on each forearm. That’s one less digit than its close dino relatives had. 

The fossils imply that the dinosaurs may have evolved forelimb adaptations that enabled them to spread during the Late Cretaceous Period, researchers say in a new study published Wednesday in The Royal Society Open Science journal. Paleontologists from the University of Edinburgh found a number of complete skeletons of the new species during a dig in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert. 

The feathered, omnivorous Oksoko avarsan grew to around 6.5 feet (2 meters) long. In addition to two functional digits on each

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Astronomers turn up the heavy metal to shed light on star formation

Astronomers turn up the heavy metal to shed light on star formation
Astronomers use galaxies near to Earth as a ‘local’ laboratory. Credit: ICRAR

Astronomers from The University of Western Australia’s node of the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) have developed a new way to study star formation in galaxies from the dawn of time to today.


“Stars can be thought of as enormous nuclear-powered processing plants,” said lead researcher Dr. Sabine Bellstedt, from ICRAR.

“They take lighter elements like hydrogen and helium, and, over billions of years, produce the heavier elements of the periodic table that we find scattered throughout the universe today. The carbon, calcium and iron in your body, the oxygen in the air you breathe, and the silicon in your computer all exist because a star created these heavier elements and left them behind,” Bellstedt said. “Stars are the ultimate element factories in the universe.”

Understanding how galaxies formed stars billions of years ago requires the

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Findings shed light on how hearing happens at the molecular level — ScienceDaily

We hear sounds in part because tiny filaments inside our inner ears help convert voices, music and noises into electrical signals that are sent to our brains for processing. Now, scientists have mapped and simulated those filaments at the atomic level, a discovery that shed lights on how the inner ear works and that could help researchers learn more about how and why people lose the ability to hear.

The findings, published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involve very fine filaments in the inner ear called tip links. When sound vibrations reach the inner ear, the vibrations cause those tip links to stretch and open ion channels of sensory cells within the inner-ear cochlea, a tiny snail-shaped organ that allows our brains to sense sound. When tip links open those channels, that act triggers the cochlear electrical signals that we interpret as sound.

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Genomes of two millipede species shed light on their evolution, development and physiology — ScienceDaily

Millipedes, those many-legged denizens of the soil surface throughout the world, don’t always get the recognition they deserve. But a new study by Jerome Hui of Chinese University of Hong Kong and colleagues puts them in the spotlight, sequencing and analyzing complete genomes from two very different millipede species. The study, publishing on September 29th in the open-access journal PLOS Biology, provides important insights into arthropod evolution, and highlights the genetic underpinnings of unique features of millipede physiology.

Millipedes and centipedes together comprise the Myriapoda — arthropods with multi-segmented trunks and many legs. Centipedes sport one pair of legs per segment, while millipedes bear two. Despite the apparent numeric implications of their names, different centipede species bear between 30 and 354 legs, and millipedes between 22 and 750. There are about 16,000 species of myriapods, including over 12,000 species of millipedes, but only two myriapod genomes have so far

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Remnants of an ancient asteroid shed new light on the early solar system — ScienceDaily

Researchers have shaken up a once accepted timeline for cataclysmic events in the early solar system. About 4.5 Ga (giga-anum, or billion years ago), as a large disc of dust and ice collapsed around our newly formed star, planets and smaller celestial bodies were formed. What followed was a chaotic and violent period of collisions and impacts as the familiar eight planets carved out their orbits to resemble the balanced system we observe today. Geological and geochemical records indicate that after about 600-700 million years after formation — but still early in the solar system’s existence — the Earth-Moon system experienced a period of frequent and cataclysmic impacts from asteroids and other bodies. This period is dubbed the late heavy bombardment (LHB) period.

It was once thought that this period had a relatively sudden onset, but a research team at Hiroshima University and The University of Tokyo in Japan have

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Are some black holes wormholes in disguise? Gamma-ray blasts may shed clues.

Unusual flashes of gamma rays could reveal that what appear to be giant black holes are actually huge wormholes, a new study finds.

Wormholes are tunnels in space-time that can theoretically allow travel anywhere in space and time, or even into another universe. Einstein’s theory of general relativity suggests wormholes are possible, although whether they really exist is another matter.

In many ways, wormholes resemble black holes. Both kinds of objects are extremely dense and possess extraordinarily strong gravitational pulls for bodies their size. The main difference is that no object can theoretically come back out after crossing a black hole’s event horizon — the threshold where the speed needed to escape the black hole’s gravitational pull exceeds the speed of light — whereas any body entering a wormhole could theoretically reverse course.

Video: Last 500 years around Milky Way’s supermassive black hole

Assuming wormholes might exist, researchers investigated ways

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