This week in science

Webb captures Pillars of Creation and more: Understand the world through 8 images

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

Space Frontiers/Archive Photos/Getty Images

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope captured an iconic interstellar sight the week of October 13–19, as astronomers unlocked the early warning signs of a supernova.

Here are the week’s biggest science stories, told in 8 incredible images.

Dr Emily. G. Mitchell/University of Cambridge

8. Blink and you’ll miss it

NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration

October 13

NASA said an exceptionally bright pulse of radiation on October 9 came from a gamma-ray burst, likely from the birth of a black hole. The burst happened much closer to Earth than most, and could be the brightest visible from Earth for several decades.

NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration

7. Early warning

European Southern Observatory/L. Calçada

October 13

Astronomers devised a way to tell when a red supergiant star is about to explode, based on observations from supernovae. Stars envelop themselves in gas in their final months, dimming considerably to telescopes. This early warning could help astronomers capture an impending supernova as it happens.

European Southern Observatory/L. Calçada

6. Deep breaths

Dr Emily. G. Mitchell/University of Cambridge

October 14

Researchers determined oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere likely fluctuated wildly around 1 billion years ago, contrary to theories that oxygen only increased after it appeared 2 billion years ago. That would have allowed animals to evolve and then die off in cycles, increasing species diversity.

Dr Emily. G. Mitchell/University of Cambridge

5. Course correction

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

October 16

NASA’s Lucy spacecraft passed closer to Earth than the International Space Station during a gravity assist. The maneuver altered Lucy’s course so a second assist in 2024 can send it toward asteroid Donaldjohanson, the mission’s first study target.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

4. Tumors on demand

Madhuri Dey, courtesy Ozbolat Lab/Penn State

October 18

Researchers created breast cancer tumors in a lab using 3D bioprinters, then successfully treated them with chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Researchers say their technique could help test anti-cancer therapies without animal experimentation.

Madhuri Dey, courtesy Ozbolat Lab/Penn State

3. Warmer waters

Stephani Gordon, Open Boat Films

October 18

Researchers found marine vertical migrators like squid will likely expand their habitats by up to 20 degrees of latitude north and south as warming oceans increase their metabolism. That differs from coastal marine animals, which scientists expect to be forced from their habitats.

Stephani Gordon, Open Boat Films

2. Family history

Tom Bjorklund

October 19

Researchers sequenced the genomes of 13 Neanderthals in the largest study ever of its kind. Testing revealed they were from a single community and lived together. The results also show low genetic diversity similar to that seen in endangered species.

Tom Bjorklund

1. Pillars of Creation

ASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

October 19

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope captured a near-infrared view of the Pillars of Creation, famously imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. Webb’s near-infrared sensors can penetrate the region’s dust clouds, offering a clearer view.

ASA, ESA, CSA, STScI