This week in science

Perseverance hunts for Martian life and more: Understand the world in 8 images

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NASA’s Perseverance rover searched for life on Mars as scientists studied extinct animals on Earth and made stunning observations in deep space the week of July 15–22.

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

8. The glitch is out there

Gravity Spy
July 15

A new type of glitch in the LIGO gravitational wave detector was identified by users. The glitch causes a distinctive image that looks like a flying saucer.

Gravity Spy
July 15

Researchers using the Chandra X-ray Observatory are studying the galaxy cluster Abell 1775 for signs of a past collision with another cluster. Galaxy clusters are the most massive known structures in the universe, and their collisions release immense amounts of energy.

composite image of Abell 1775 system

6. Stellar nursery

July 16

Researchers using European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope captured colorful images of several nearby galaxies. The observations give scientists insight into what causes stars to form.


5. Welcome back, Hubble

July 17

The Hubble space telescope resumed observations following a computer error earlier in 2021. Its first targets included a set of unusual galaxies — one with extended spiral arms and another pair colliding.

July 19

Researchers captured the highest resolution images ever of a black hole ejecting radiation jets. Scientists don’t yet understand what causes the jets to erupt.

M. Janssen, et al. NATURE ASTRONOMY (2021)

3. Out of the blue

Field Museum
July 20

Researchers confirmed that the Xerces blue butterfly was a distinct species before it went extinct. Before, there was some debate over whether the butterfly, the first known insect destroyed by human development, was actually part of another species.

Field Museum

2. Life on Mars

July 20

NASA’s Perseverance rover began its search for evidence of ancient life on Mars. The rover is using X-rays, ultraviolet light, and photos to analyze rocks on the planet’s surface.

July 22

Researchers found evidence that pterosaurs may have been able to fly just after hatching. Newly hatched pterosaurs are thought to have been more agile but weaker than adults.

D. Naish, et al. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS (2021)

Amine Slim / 500px/500Px Plus/Getty Images

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