This week in science

Webb captures Tarantula Nebula and more: Understand the world through 8 images

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team

Sophia Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF

NASA pushed back its Artemis I launch by nearly a month the week of September 1–7, as scientists completed a ground-breaking planetary model and found the world’s oldest mammal.

Here are the biggest science stories of the week, told in 8 stunning images

CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images

8. Planetary motion

Sophia Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF

September 1

Scientists completed the first complete 3D model of a binary star and orbiting planet, after discovering such a system 20 light-years from Earth. An estimated 50 percent of all star systems are binary, and this finding could help scientists understand how their planets form.

Sophia Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF

7. Better luck next time

NASA/Keegan Barber

September 3

NASA announced that it’s closing the remaining Artemis I launch windows in early September after scrubbing its September 3 launch attempt. Further plans have yet to be announced, but the earliest window available now opens September 19.

NASA/Keegan Barber

6. First of its kind

Anatomical Society/Wiley

September 6

Scientists identified a 225-million-year-old mammal called Brasilodon quadrangularis from fossil dental records. That makes the shrew-like critter the oldest known mammal, predating the previous earliest genus, Morganucodon, by 20 million years.

Anatomical Society/Wiley

5. Climate change refuge

Hankyu Kim

September 6

Researchers found birds can find some refuge from climate change in old-growth forests and managed forests with old-growth microclimates. The cooler microclimates and plant diversity of these forests allow prey insects to thrive for more of the year. The finding could inform future forest conservation decisions.

Hankyu Kim

4. More than a byproduct

UT Southwestern Medical Center

September 6

Researchers determined lactate, a byproduct created in the body by strenuous activity, may help T cells fight cancer. Increasing lactate improved anti-cancer vaccines and the effect of injected T cells in mice, which could be a viable supplement to cancer treatment in humans.

UT Southwestern Medical Center

3. How walking works

University of California San Diego/University of Michigan

September 6

By studying how ants walk, researchers found the same mathematics that explain slithering and swimming also applies to walking. This could help researchers develop better walking robots and inform our understanding of how animals transition from water to land.

University of California San Diego/University of Michigan

2. Caught in the Webb

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team

September 6

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope captured an incredible image of the Tarantula Nebula. Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the striking nebula hosts thousands of young stars and lets astronomers study a chemical makeup from when the universe was 3 billion years old.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team

1. Breathing bacteria

Ella Maru Studio

September 7

Researchers discovered “a completely different form of photosynthesis” that helps underground and deep-sea bacteria thrive. These bacteria create photosensitive nanowires to cast off electrons as if they were breathing, and light exposure makes them grow faster. The finding could help advance bacteria-based renewable energy.

Ella Maru Studio