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Science News Roundup: Chilean telescopes that explore galaxies brought down; Astronomers spot 'missing link' black hole and more

Devdiscourse News Desk | Updated: 03-04-2020 19:05 IST | Created: 03-04-2020 18:28 IST
Science News Roundup: Chilean telescopes that explore galaxies brought down; Astronomers spot 'missing link' black hole and more
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Following is a summary of current science news briefs.

Frozen and desolate Antarctica once boasted warm, swampy rainforests

Antarctica is now a harsh land of ice and snow, but has not always been that way. Earth's southernmost continent long ago was home to temperate, swampy rainforests teeming with life, scientists said on Wednesday based on pristinely preserved forest soil they retrieved by drilling under the seafloor off Antarctica's coast.

Astronomers spot 'missing link' black hole - not too big and not too small

Scientists have detected a mid-size black hole - considered the "missing link" in the understanding of these celestial brutes - eviscerating an unfortunate star that strayed too close. Using data from the Hubble Space Telescope and two X-ray observatories, the researchers determined that this black hole is more than 50,000 times the mass of our sun and located 740 million light years from Earth in a dwarf galaxy, one containing far fewer stars than our Milky Way.

Chilean telescopes that explore galaxies brought down to earth by coronavirus

Chilean telescopes that comb the skies seeking answers about some of the universe´s most fundamental questions have confirmed they, too, have fallen victim to the mass disruption brought about by the new coronavirus. Observatories dotted above the coastal city of La Serena and in the Latin nation´s dry northern deserts have closed for the first time since some opened several decades ago, citing the risk of potential contagion among international visitors and scientific staff.

Landmark skull fossil provides surprising human evolution clues

Scientists have solved a longstanding mystery over the age of a landmark skull found in 1921 in Zambia - the first fossil of an extinct human species discovered in Africa - in research with big implications for deciphering the origin of our own species. The study published on Wednesday involved the so-called Broken Hill skull, also called the Kabwe skull in recognition of a nearby town, discovered by a Swiss miner working in the Broken Hill lead and zinc mine in what was then Northern Rhodesia. Until now, scientists had been in the dark about how old it was, making it difficult to know its place on the human family tree.

Chinese scientists seeking potential COVID-19 treatment find 'effective' antibodies

A team of Chinese scientists has isolated several antibodies that it says are "extremely effective" at blocking the ability of the new coronavirus to enter cells, which eventually could be helpful in treating or preventing COVID-19. There is currently no proven effective treatment for the disease, which originated in China and is spreading across the world in a pandemic that has infected more than 850,000 and killed 42,000.

(With inputs from agencies.)


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