This week in science

NASA restores Hubble spectrograph and more: Understand the world in 9 images

NASA

Tone K

The Hubble Space Telescope brought another instrument back online the week of November 25–December 1, as scientists around the world discovered new species.

Here are the biggest science stories of the week, told in 9 incredible images.

HUM Images/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

December 1

Scientists found that ivermectin is effective in treating endangered Australian sea lions for hookworm, which causes up to 40 percent of seal pup deaths. Ivermectin became notorious during the Covid-19 pandemic when it was claimed as a cure by conspiracy theorists.

University of Sydney, Australia

December 1

Researchers used a new, non-destructive CT scanning method to identify bone disease in a T. rex jaw fossil. The proof-of-concept study shows that this new type of CT analysis could give scientists better insight into fossils without damaging them.

RSNA and Charlie Hamm, M.D.

7. Arecibo isn’t done yet

ICRAR

December 1

Though the Arecibo Telescope collapsed last year, astronomers used archival data on 564 galaxies, refining a model that explains how a galaxy’s rotation and stellar mass determine its development. The finding could help scientists better understand the evolution of our own galaxy.

ICRAR

6. Social media star

Mirza et al.

November 30

Researchers discovered a new species of snake after a student found one in their backyard and posted it on Instagram. The team determined it was a new species using DNA analysis and tomography scans.

Mirza et al.

November 30

Astronomers captured images of the closest supermassive black hole pair to Earth ever found, using ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The black holes are 89 million light-years from Earth and are expected to merge within the next 250 million years.

ESO/Voggel et al.; ESO/VST ATLAS team. Acknowledgement: Durham University/CASU/WFAU

4. Stellar mass

Shimizu S

November 29

Scientists identified a new species of parasitoid wasp after finding its unique star-shaped cocoon mass in Japan. The Meteorus stellatus’ cocoon masses can contain up to 100 individual cocoons.

Fujie S

3. A new old species

Dirley Cortés

November 29

Researchers discovered a new species of extinct ichthyosaur, an ancient, swordfish-like marine animal. Hailing from the early Cretaceous period, Kyhytysuka sachicarum was one of the last surviving ichthyosaur species.

Dirley Cortés

2. Back to work

NASA

November 29

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope team restored the telescope’s Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, bringing three of its four active instruments back online. The telescope suspended operations in October when its instruments entered safe mode after an error.

NASA

November 26

Researchers identified chemical compounds that bind to coronavirus RNA, preventing it from replicating. They’re still working to understand how molecules called amilorides block replication, but the finding could help fight Covid-19.

Martina Zafferani, Duke University