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ALMA pseudo-colour composite image of the gas outflows from stellar eggs in the Galactic Centre region

In the Milky Way, gas (red and blue; artificially coloured) flows outwards from ‘stellar eggs’ that could hatch into baby stars. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Lu et al./Astrophys. J.

Astronomy and astrophysics

Baby stars make it in a tough part of the Galaxy

Star formation might be more resilient than astronomers had thought.

Despite its harsh conditions, the centre of the Milky Way is a birthplace for stars.

Galactic centres are full of hazards, such as powerful magnetic fields and exploding stars, that can prevent baby stars from coalescing out of clouds of gas and dust. Previous work has suggested that stars form less frequently in the innermost 500 parsecs of the Milky Way than in more distant regions.

Xing Lu at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan in Tokyo and his colleagues used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile to study gassy regions near the Galactic Centre. The scientists spotted more than 800 dense pockets of gas and dust, which are probably ‘stellar eggs’ from which newborn stars might ‘hatch’.

Of these, 43 had outflows of gas — a probable sign that stars were being formed.

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Jumping ant guarding pupae and larvae at the nest

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Ants shrink their brains for motherhood — but can enlarge them when egg-laying ends

Brain volume plummets in ‘gamergate’ ants that gain the ability to reproduce, but rises again with a fall in fertility.
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An unprecedented genomic analysis helped to curb an Ebola outbreak

Despite extraordinary challenges, scientists managed to sequence a high percentage of Ebola virus genomes from a deadly wave of infections.
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Vast bush fires that swept across Australia at the end of 2019 and the start of 2020 filled the skies with enough smoke to warm a portion of the atmosphere. Credit: Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty

Atmospheric science

Smoke from Australian fires turned up the heat in the southern sky

The catastrophic wildfires of late 2019 and early 2020 triggered a lingering temperature rise in a section of Earth’s lower atmosphere.
Visible and infrared images of the device in fully discharged and charged states

A display screen in its uncharged (top left) and charged (top right) state in visible light. The screen reflects one range of infrared wavelengths when uncharged (bottom left) and another range when charged (bottom right). Credit: M. S. Ergoktas et al./Nature Photon.

Optics and photonics

One screen, three images — some invisible in ordinary light

A graphene-based device can display several images simultaneously using a range of wavelengths.
Woman harvesting teff, Ethiopia

A farmer in Ethiopia harvests teff, a cereal. Small farms tend to have more-diverse landscapes than do sprawling industrial operations. Credit: Andia/Universal Images Group/Getty

Environmental sciences

Small farms outdo big ones on biodiversity — and crop yields

Large-scale farms account for most of the global food supply, but smallholdings protect species and are just as profitable.
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