This week in science

Soyuz rescue plan and more: Understand the world through 8 images

NASA

Space Frontiers/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Russia’s space agency announced a plan to replaced a damaged craft at the ISS the week of January 5–11, as astronomers studied black holes, exoplanets, and the forces shaping Earth’s cosmic neighborhood.

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

8. Buried history

Lars Einarsson

January 5

Archaeologists cataloged how migrations to Scandinavia affected the region’s gene pool over the past 2,000 years, based on nearly 300 ancient genomes. The research shows huge impacts from migrants from the British-Irish Isles throughout the Viking age.

Lars Einarsson

7. Green space

Wei et al., Environmental Research Letters, 2022

January 5

Researchers found overlooked vegetation in New York City — like gardens, overgrown lots, and street trees — can absorb up to 40 percent of the city’s carbon emissions. They note the city’s long winters limit the possibilities for carbon uptake, but say urban vegetation could be even more effective in warmer places.

Wei et al., Environmental Research Letters, 2022

6. Ancient order

NASA/CEERS/University of Texas at Austin

January 5

Astronomers found stellar bars occurring in galaxies 11 billion years ago, in images captured by JWST. Stellar bars are formations of stars stretching in a straight line across galaxies, concentrating gas needed for star formation in the center. They’ve never been observed in galaxies this old.

NASA/CEERS/University of Texas at Austin

5. Wear your sunscreen

Prof Liu Feng/Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology

January 6

Researchers discovered compounds meant to protect plants from UV-B radiation in 250-million-year-old preserved pollen. These compounds suggest that increased UV radiation played a part in the Permian mass extinction, due to a disruption of the ozone layer.

Prof Liu Feng/Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology

4. Two of a kind

ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); M. Weiss (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

January 9

Astronomers discovered the closest pair of supermassive black holes ever imaged in multiple wavelengths. Located 500 million light-years from Earth, the pair suggest that active binary black holes are more common than previously thought but have been undetected due to the limitations of older observatories.

ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); M. Weiss (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

3. Just like home

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Robert Hurt/NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

January 10

Scientists identified a second Earth-sized world in the habitable zone of the star TOI 700, 101.4 light-years from Earth. Called TOI 700 e, the planet may have had water at some point in its history.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Robert Hurt/NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

2. Magnetic map

Theo O’Neill and the Milkyway3d.org team

January 11

Astronomers created the first-ever 3D map of magnetic fields in the Local Bubble that contains our Solar System. Created by supernovae pushing away gas and dust, the Local Bubble and other superbubbles concentrate the ingredients needed for star formation at their edges.

Theo O’Neill and the Milkyway3d.org team

1. Calling for backup

NASA

January 11

Roscosmos announced it will send a replacement Soyuz capsule to the International Space Station in February to replace another capsule damaged by a micrometeroid. The currently docked Soyuz suffered a coolant leak December 14, making it unfit to carry astronauts.

NASA