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Volume 579 Issue 7800, 26 March 2020

Glowing report

The cover shows a thermal image of the carbonaceous (C-type) asteroid 162173 Ryugu. C-type asteroids formed some 4.6 billion years ago and are made up of primitive materials that could shed light on the origin of the Solar System. But even though they are the most common type of asteroid, little is known about their physical properties. In this week’s issue, Tatsuaki Okada and his colleagues describe their analysis of the thermal data captured by the thermal imager TIR on the spacecraft Hayabusa2 when it encountered Ryugu. The results reveal that the asteroid is probably a collection of small, remarkably porous rocks held loosely together. The authors suggest Ryugu may represent a missing link between the fluffy dust that pervades much of space and dense celestial objects such as planets.

Cover image: JAXA et al.

This Week

News in Focus

Books & Arts




  • Career News |

    Men outnumber and out-earn women, and white people take up more posts and are more likely to be in the highest pay grades than people from minority ethnic groups.

    • Chris Woolston
  • Column

  • Career Column |

    A few modest adjustments to the planning and delivery of talks can help scientists share ideas with their peers more effectively, say Scott St. George and Michael White.

    • Scott St. George
    • Michael White


    News & Views

  • News & Views |

    A by-product of alcohol metabolism can damage the genome by crosslinking opposing DNA strands. The discovery of a safe mechanism that reverses such damage might open up avenues of research for drug discovery.

    • Irene Gallina
    • Julien P. Duxin
  • News & Views |

    Chromatin, the complex of DNA and protein in cell nuclei, can be modified by ubiquitin molecules. It emerges that this modification occurs in a molecular reaction chamber formed from an enzyme and a scaffold protein.

    • Nick Gilbert
    • Fred van Leeuwen
  • News & Views |

    In 1980, a method was found to determine the amount of carbon dioxide in ancient air trapped in polar ice — providing direct evidence that CO2 is coupled to climate, and affects global temperatures in the past, present and future.

    • Jean-Robert Petit
    • Dominique Raynaud
  • Reviews

  • Articles

  • Article |

    Scanning tunnelling microscopy and spectroscopy measurements show chiral edge states inside the superconducting gap of the heavy-fermion superconductor UTe2, indicating the presence of chiral spin-triplet superconductivity.

    • Lin Jiao
    • Sean Howard
    • Vidya Madhavan
  • Article |

    A quantum dot device designed to host four electrons is used to demonstrate Nagaoka ferromagnetism—a model of itinerant magnetism that has so far been limited to theoretical investigation.

    • J. P. Dehollain
    • U. Mukhopadhyay
    • L. M. K. Vandersypen
  • Article |

    An on-chip, all-electronic device based on the formation of a nanoplasma provides ultrafast electron transfer, enabling picosecond switching of electric signals and the generation of high-power terahertz pulses.

    • Mohammad Samizadeh Nikoo
    • Armin Jafari
    • Elison Matioli
  • Article |

    The pectoral fin of an Elpistostege watsoni specimen from the Upper Devonian period of Canada combines digits and fin rays, blurring the line between the appendages of fish and land vertebrates.

    • Richard Cloutier
    • Alice M. Clement
    • John A. Long
  • Article |

    FERONIA prevents polyspermy in Arabidopsis by enabling pectin-stimulated nitric oxide accumulation at the filiform apparatus after the first pollen tube arrives, which disengages LURE1 chemoattraction to prevent late-arriving pollen tubes from entering the ovule.

    • Qiaohong Duan
    • Ming-Che James Liu
    • Alice Y. Cheung
  • Article |

    Microbial nucleic acids are detected in samples of tissues and blood from more than 10,000 patients with cancer, and machine learning is used to show that these can be used to discriminate between and among different types of cancer, suggesting a new microbiome-based diagnostic approach.

    • Gregory D. Poore
    • Evguenia Kopylova
    • Rob Knight
  • Article |

    A genetic mouse model is used to reveal a two-pronged mechanism of fructose-induced de novo lipogenesis in the liver, in which fructose catabolism in hepatocytes provides a signal to promote lipogenesis, whereas fructose metabolism by the gut microbiota provides acetate as a substrate to feed lipogenesis.

    • Steven Zhao
    • Cholsoon Jang
    • Kathryn E. Wellen
  • Article |

    A computational screen of an ultra-large virtual library against the structure of the melatonin receptor found nanomolar ligands, and ultimately two selective MT1 inverse agonists that induced phase advancement of the mouse circadian clock when given at subjective dusk.

    • Reed M. Stein
    • Hye Jin Kang
    • Margarita L. Dubocovich
  • Article |

    The authors provide high-resolution structures of two arenavirus polymerases, revealing that the active site of arenavirus polymerase is inherently switched on, without the requirement for allosteric activation by 5′-viral RNA, and that dimerization facilitates polymerase activity.

    • Ruchao Peng
    • Xin Xu
    • Yi Shi

Amendments & Corrections

Nature Outlook

  • Nature Outlook |

    Cancer diagnosis

    Despite marked improvements in treatment, cancer is still the cause of roughly 17% of deaths globally.

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