Capture a black hole, live in space and a new human parent: this week in space and science



And that's not all. Fossils of a previously unknown human parent were discovered in a cave. Scientists have discovered an exoplanet and examined how life could thrive on other exoplanets. Images of decommissioned U2 spy planes revealed archaeological features lost over time.

And unfortunately, a mission on the moon ended in failure.

Here's all you may have missed this week in the world of space and science news.

On Wednesday, the world was initiated to the first picture of a black hole. And then a million memes broke out, marking phenomena such as Sauron's eye of "Lord of the Rings" and suggesting that cats were the real cause.
The supermassive black hole is at the center of the M87 galaxy, 55 million light-years away from us. This is now called Powehi, a Hawaiian phrase that refers to a "dark source embellished with endless creation".

Scientists used a global network of eight telescopes called Event Event Horizon Telescope, which created a telescope the size of the Earth. On the image, a dark central area is encapsulated by a ring of brighter light on one side.

The first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole.

It is a confirmation of the theory of general relativity of Albert Einstein.

And then the world was presented to the smiling face of Katie Bouman. The monumental effort of capturing this image and sharing it with the world would not have been possible without Bouman, who developed a crucial algorithm that helped design imaging methods.
Katie Bouman and the image that she helped make possible.

The MIT computer and artificial intelligence laboratory compared a photo of Bouman among piles of hard drives to a famous photo taken in 1969 by computer scientist Margaret Hamilton alongside the thousands of sheets of code that she and her team had written for the Apollo project.

After the great triumph comes the failure

The first private privately funded moon mission, the Israeli probe Beresheet, was trying to land softly on the moon when it crashed on Thursday.

An Israeli spacecraft crashes in the last moments before landing on the moon

"I'm sorry to say that our spacecraft did not do it in one piece to the moon," said Opher Doron, head of Israeli Aerospace Industries' space division. "We went to the moon, it is a great achievement, we are the seventh country to go to the moon."

The mission began in February with great fanfare. The failure would be due to a communication problem.

What happens when you spend a year in space?

In case you were wondering, a lot. Spending 340 days aboard the International Space Station between 2015 and 2016 has caused changes in the body of astronaut Scott Kelly, ranging from his weight to his genes, according to the results of the study of the NASA Twins, released Thursday.

The majority of the changes in Kelly's body, compared to his identical brother, Mark, on Earth, returned to normal after he returned from the space station. The study results suggest that human health can be "mostly maintained" for a year in space, the researchers said.

But this much anticipated study reveals areas that may require countermeasures or safeguards when preparing longer space missions or far-space missions, such as Mars.

Human health can be mainly maintained. for a year in space, the NASA Twins Study concludes

One year in space caused the thickening of Scott's carotid artery, lesions of his DNA, changes in gene expression, retinal thickening, changes intestinal microbes, a reduction in cognitive abilities and a change in the structure of the ends of chromosomes, called telomeres. But that did not alter or mutate his DNA.

Being vaccinated against the flu in the space also worked exactly like on Earth. Nutrition and exercise on the resort resulted in weight loss and an increase in folate, responsible for the vital production of red blood cells.

The results have health implications, not just for astronauts likely to attend long-term missions on Mars and elsewhere, but also for those of us who are on Earth and who are not on Earth. do not plan to leave the planet. Cancer patients also undergo genetic modifications and exposure to radiation. This study shows how a healthy body reacts and adapts to stress, which could separate the way the body reacts to other stressors, cancer or infections.

Meet Homo luzonensis

Together, 13 bones found in the Callao Cave in the Philippines represent our only knowledge of a newly discovered species related to humans, called Homo luzonensis. The fossils belonged to two adults and a child who lived between 50,000 and 67,000 years ago.

This period means that luzonensis would have lived at the same time as Neanderthals, Denisovans, Homo sapiens and Homo floresiensis. Like other extinct hominins, luzonensis is more a close relative than a direct ancestor.

A mysterious species related to humans has been discovered

No DNA has been extracted from the bones or teeth of the feet and hands, but the fossils contain an intriguing mix of archaic and progressive traits that can be attributed to Homo sapiens and Australopithecus afarensis. Australopithecus have lived between 2.9 and 3.9 million years.

More research is on the horizon, so we can get a better idea of ​​how they look and how they live.

Spy planes: the new archaeological tool

Weather, weather and human interference tend to erase important markers of the past. But enterprising scientists have been able to get their hands on images captured by U2 spy planes that are now declassified and made public.

In the 50s and 60s, planes flew over the Middle East, Europe and parts of Asia to take pictures of military targets. But the cameras continued to take pictures between the targets, recording the desert, fields and villages.

The researchers have covered thousands of images. They discovered archaeological remains, prehistoric hunting traps, 3000-year-old canals, and 60-year-old marsh villages that disappeared as they dried up.

Hunting traps, called desert kites, were stone structures dating back 5,000 to 8,000 years that trapped gazelles and other animals.

One of the pictures of the spy plane U2 showed evidence of hunting traps.

The images also provide a look at Aleppo before the Syrian civil war destroyed much of it, the researchers said.

This is the first time imagery of U2 spy planes is used archaeologically, but researchers hope this is just the beginning of the resources available to all.

Life could be on these exoplanets

A team of Brazilian astronomers has found evidence of an exoplanet revolving around a binary, or two-star system, in which one of the stars is dead. The giant exoplanet also has a mass nearly 13 times greater than that of Jupiter. So, it would not be the best place to set up a shop.

There has been a lot of scientific enthusiasm over the last few years about rocky Earth-like planets that revolve around small red dwarf stars close to our solar system. The planets found around these stars are in the habitable zone, where liquid water could exist on the surface of the planets and where life could exist.

But then this excitement was crushed by radiation. These planets are also close to their stars and, even if they are small, they have the unfortunate habit of igniting and attacking their planets with large doses of radiation.

It does not really look good for life or an atmosphere.

But this week, the researchers reminded us that the Earth had gone through a similar phase and, hey, we're still here. At the beginning of Earth's history, life had to withstand intense ultraviolet radiation.

"Since the primitive Earth was inhabited," wrote the researchers, "we show that UV rays should not be a limiting factor for the habitability of planets in orbit [small red dwarf] stars. Our closest neighbor worlds remain intriguing targets for the search for life beyond our solar system. "

CNN's AJ Willingham, Michelle Lou and Saeed Ahmed contributed to this report.


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