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Volume 622 Issue 7981, 5 October 2023

A star is born

The cover shows a composite near-infrared image of Herbig-Haro 211, a striking interstellar jet emanating from a young star in the Perseus Molecular Cloud. Captured by Tom Ray and his colleagues using the James Webb Space Telescope, the image is analysed in this week’s issue. The protostar responsible for Herbig-Haro 211 is an analogue of the Sun when it was only a few tens of thousands of years old, and the image and accompanying spectroscopy offer insight into how the Solar System formed. The researchers found that, contrary to expectations, the jet is made up almost completely of molecules, rather than atoms and ions, and that these molecules explain the ‘green fuzzies’ seen in images of the jet taken by the Spitzer telescope in the early 2000s.

Cover image: NASA, ESA, CSA/Mark McCaughrean & Patrick Kavanagh

This Week

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News in Focus

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Books & Arts

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  • News & Views

    • Astronomers have obtained spectacular images of an interstellar jet launched from a newly forming star. Careful comparison with archival data offers a fresh take on the chemistry of the environment that surrounds it.

      • Joel Green
      News & Views
    • Understanding the timeline of technological developments sheds light on early societies. A remarkable finding in Africa of a structure made from shaped wood provides clues about our hominin relatives.

      • Annemieke Milks
      News & Views
    • Layers of a thin semiconductor material overlap in a particular pattern, giving rise to particle currents carrying a fraction of the charge of an electron — with potential for encoding quantum information.

      • Cécile Repellin
      News & Views
    • An impressive combination of computational modelling and experimental techniques in live zebrafish embryos reveals how the heart initiates its organized and rhythmic beating.

      • Joshua Bloomekatz
      • Neil C. Chi
      News & Views
    • Are protected areas slowing down global biodiversity declines? A global analysis provides evidence that they are, although effects vary across groups of species, and what happens outside protected areas matters, too.

      • Ana S. L. Rodrigues
      • Marie-Morgane Rouyer
      News & Views
  • Perspective

    • Although the catalogue of human protein-coding genes is nearing completion, the number of non-coding RNA genes remains highly uncertain, and for all genes much work remains to be done to understand their functions.

      • Paulo Amaral
      • Silvia Carbonell-Sala
      • Steven L. Salzberg
  • Articles

    • Near-infrared imagery and spectroscopy from JWST of the Herbig-Haro 211 system, an analogue of the young Sun, reveals  supersonic jets of hot molecules that can explain the origin of the ‘green fuzzies’ phenomenon.

      • T. P. Ray
      • M. J. McCaughrean
      • G. Wright
      Article Open Access
    • A high-precision, high-field test of quantum electrodynamics measuring the bound-electron g factor in hydrogen-like tin is described, which—together with state-of-the-art theory calculations—yields a stringent test in the strong-field regime.

      • J. Morgner
      • B. Tu
      • K. Blaum
      Article Open Access
    • Many different homogeneous metrics on Lie groups, which may have markedly different short-distance properties, are shown to exhibit nearly identical distance functions at long distances, suggesting a large universality class of definitions of quantum complexity.

      • Adam R. Brown
      • Michael H. Freedman
      • Leonard Susskind
      Article Open Access
    • Thermodynamic evidence of both integer and fractional Chern insulators at zero magnetic field is reported in small-angle twisted bilayer MoTe2 by combining the local electronic compressibility and magneto-optical measurements.

      • Yihang Zeng
      • Zhengchao Xia
      • Jie Shan
    • Transport measurements in twisted bilayer MoTe2 reveal quantized Hall resistance plateaus and composite Fermi liquid-like behaviour under zero magnetic field, constituting a direct observation of integer and fractional quantum anomalous Hall effects.

      • Heonjoon Park
      • Jiaqi Cai
      • Xiaodong Xu
    • Analysis of high-resolution annual data shows that global human settlements have expanded continuously and rapidly into flood zones, with those in the most hazardous zones increasing by 122% from 1985 to 2015.

      • Jun Rentschler
      • Paolo Avner
      • Stéphane Hallegatte

      Nature Outlook:

    • Analysis of a new annually resolved, multi-method, palaeoproxy-derived reconstruction ensemble for the period 1200–2000 suggests that recent variability in the Pacific Walker circulation is unusual but not unprecedented over the past 800 years.

      • Georgina Falster
      • Bronwen Konecky
      • Samantha Stevenson
      Article Open Access
    • An analysis of 2,239 terrestrial vertebrate populations shows that they decline more slowly in protected areas than outside protected areas, but the benefits vary across vertebrate classes and depend on the regional context of the protected area.

      • A. Justin Nowakowski
      • James I. Watling
      • Luke O. Frishkoff
    • Aphid-transmitted viruses encode proteins that suppress the plant airborne defence response—which is triggered by volatile chemicals released by neighbouring plants after aphid attack—and the plants consequently become less repellent to aphids and more suitable for aphid survival, infestation and viral transmission.

      • Qian Gong
      • Yunjing Wang
      • Yule Liu
    • The first heartbeat of a zebrafish was captured, and development of cardiac excitability and conduction around this singular event were analysed, showing how development of single-cell properties produces a transition from quiescence to coordinated beating.

      • Bill Z. Jia
      • Yitong Qi
      • Adam E. Cohen
    • RETFound, a foundation model for retinal images that learns generalizable representations from unlabelled images, is trained on 1.6 million unlabelled images by self-supervised learning and then adapted to disease detection tasks with explicit labels.

      • Yukun Zhou
      • Mark A. Chia
      • Pearse A. Keane
      Article Open Access
    • Multiomic analyses of mouse thymic epithelial cells identify several unconventional subsets that are mimetics of various populations of terminally differentiated parenchymal cells and provide insights into their development, molecular features and function.

      • Tal Givony
      • Dena Leshkowitz
      • Jakub Abramson
    • Cellular lysine residues can be both methylated and acetylated on the same sidechain to form Nε-acetyl-Nε-methyllysine (Kacme), which is found on histone H4 across a range of species and across mammalian tissues and is associated with active chromatin.

      • William J. Lu-Culligan
      • Leah J. Connor
      • Matthew D. Simon
    • A collection of RNA polymerase mutants spanning all possible substitutions of the rifampicin binding site is generated and characterized, increasing our understanding of antibiotic mechanisms and bacterial physiology.

      • Kevin B. Yang
      • Maria Cameranesi
      • Evgeny Nudler
      Article Open Access
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Amendments & Corrections

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Career Guide

  • This isn’t your parents’ bench science.

    Career Guide
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