This week in science

Super Flower Blood Moon and more: Understand the world through 8 images

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The week of May 20–26 saw a volcanic eruption in the DRC, the first total lunar eclipse in two years, and an ancient discovery in deep space.

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

MOSES SAWASAWA/AFP/Getty Images

May 20

Researchers in Japan discovered a galaxy that developed spiral arms 12.4 billion years ago. That makes it the oldest galaxy with a spiral structure ever found, emerging just 1.4 billion years after the Big Bang.

ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), T. Tsukui & S. Iguchi

7. Mind-controlled machines

University of Pittsburgh

May 20

Engineers at the University of Pittsburgh found that stimulating the brain to trigger the sense of touch speeds up the use of brain-controlled prosthetic arms, sometimes cutting the time it takes to grasp and move objects in half.

University of Pittsburgh

6. Zombie fires

Joshua Stevens/NASA

May 21

NASA Earth Observatory images show “zombie fires,” which smolder during the winter after a wildfire and re-emerge in spring. New research suggests that zombie fires are becoming more frequent due to the warming climate.

Joshua Stevens/NASA

May 21

An image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope shows a huge number of galaxies. The mass of galaxy cluster ACO S 295 is causing gravitational lensing to distort light in the center of the image.

ESA/Hubble & NASA, F. Pacaud, D. Coe

4. Gold rush

Duncan McLeish

May 21

Researchers from McGill University discovered that “ultrahigh-grade” gold deposits can form in days, when nanoparticles of gold lose their charge and clump together. Scientists likened the process to butterfat particles forming a jelly when milk sours.

Duncan McLeish

3. Disaster in the DRC

ALEX MILES/AFP/Getty Images

May 22

Nyiragongo volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo erupted suddenly, leaving thousands of people displaced and dozens dead.

ALEX MILES/AFP/Getty Images

May 24

Researchers in Japan observed magnetic fields inside galaxy cluster Abell 3376 bending plasma jets from a black hole. It’s the first time such an interaction has been viewed, and could help scientists understand the nature of cosmic magnetism.

J. Chibueze, et al. NATURE (2021)

1. Super Flower Blood Moon

Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

May 26

The first total lunar eclipse since January 2019 came on May 26 and coincided with a supermoon. The best place to view the Super Flower Blood Moon, as it was known, was in Australia, where this image was taken.

Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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