This week in science

Earth’s second trojan asteroid and more: Understand the world though 7 images

NASA

Leonhard Steinacker, Technical University of Munich

Scientists confirmed Earth’s second trojan asteroid the week of January 26–February 2, while other research aided understanding of climate change and Earth’s oldest animals.

Here are the week’s biggest science stories, told in 7 stunning images.

City University of Hong Kong

January 26

Researchers developed a thermal armor capable of liquid cooling above 1000 degrees centigrade. The Leidenfrost effect, which creates insulating vapor on extremely hot surfaces, makes liquid cooling at such temperatures extremely difficult. The armor could be used in spaceflight and nuclear reactor shielding.

City University of Hong Kong

6. Reaching out

NASA SDO/Sijie Yu

January 27

Scientists determined the finger-like structures called supra-arcade downfalls sometimes seen in solar flares are caused by the difference in density between areas with and without plasma. The phenomenon is similar to how oil and water can’t mix due to their density.

NASA SDO

5. Our ancient ancestor

Ander Urrutia / UPV/EHU

January 28

Scientists discovered a parasite that evolved shortly after animals and fungi diverged from their common ancestor, but before multicellular organisms arose. Txikispora philomaios provides insight into how multicellularity began.

Ander Urrutia / UPV/EHU

January 31

A study of icicles demonstrated how temperature affects the flow of water, changing its shape when it freezes. Understanding the patterns of ice formation can help researchers track the warming climate.

Courtesy of NYU’s Applied Mathematics Laboratory

January 31

A new study estimated Earth may have as many as 73,000 tree species — 14 percent more than previously thought. The research shows tree diversity is as important as sheer numbers for carbon sequestration.

R. Cazzolla Gatti, et al. PNAS (2022)

February 1

Scientists determined Asteroid 2020 XL5 is Earth’s second trojan asteroid — one that shares Earth’s orbit, remaining alongside the planet. It’s expected to maintain its stable position at Lagrange point 4 for 4,000 years.

NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva/Spaceengine Acknowledgment: M. Zamani (NSF’s NOIRLab)

February 2

Researchers created an eco-friendly gel made mostly of sugar and gelatin that can be used for 3D robot printing. The biodegradable gel is reusable and can be dissolved with no waste when it’s no longer useful.

Andreas Heiden, David Preninger, Doris Danninger, Florian Hartmann, Soft Matter Physics Division, Johannes Kepler University