This week in science

Webb Telescope reaches operating temperature and more: Understand the world through 7 images

ESA

ESA/ATG medialab

A crucial James Webb Space Telescope component reached its frigid operating temperature the week of April 6–13, as astronomers found the largest comet core ever and a laser beamed from deep space.

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

NASA, ESA, Zena Levy (STScI)

7. Cosmic laser

Subaru Telescope

April 7

On their first night of observations with South Africa’s MeerKAT telescope, astronomers identified the most distant radio-wave laser (also called a megamaser) ever captured. Megamasers are concentrated light beams sometimes produced by the collisions of two galaxies.

Subaru Telescope

April 7

Researchers developed a technique to biologically de-age cells with the same process used to create stem cells. The process removes age-related degeneration without entirely stripping cells of their function. Skin cells regained their ability to heal wounds after the technique was applied.

Fátima Santos, analysis by Hanneke Okkenhaug

April 11

Researchers provided evidence that memory is stored across a vast number of brain regions, helping to validate the century-old “unified engram complex” hypothesis. The study could provide additional targets for treating memory loss and impairment.

Tonegawa Lab/MIT Picower Institute

April 12

Astronomers discovered the largest icy comet nucleus ever found using the Hubble Space Telescope. Comet C/2014 UN271 has a mass of 500 million tons and a diameter of approximately 80 miles.

NASA, ESA, Man-To Hui (Macau University of Science and Technology), David Jewitt (UCLA) Image Processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

3. Worse than we thought

Nick Harvey Sky

April 13

Researchers found poaching is more detrimental than generally thought due to reproductive variance. Their study found that black rhino populations were in more danger when individuals that were more successful parents were killed.

Nick Harvey Sky

2. Combating counterfeit medicine

ACS Central Science 2022

April 13

Researchers genetically modified silkworms to produce edible silk proteins that can be used to mark individual pills or liquid medicines as legitimate. Their use could help prevent patients from taking counterfeit medicines.

ACS Central Science 2022

1. Cooler than cool

ESA

April 13

The James Webb Space Telescope’s Mid-Infrared Instrument reached its operating temperature of 7 Kelvin (minus 447 Fahrenheit), making it ready for calibration. Operating at extremely low temperatures will keep the telescope from registering excessive background noise in images.

ESA