Sunday, 23 January, 2022
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Astronomers spot flares travelling at 30% the speed of light outside Milky Way black hole

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ScientiFix, our weekly feature, will offer you a summary of the top global science stories of the week, with links to the best sources to read them. It’s your fix to stay on top of the latest in science.

A step closer to monster Milky Way black hole

Peering through the eyes of four giant telescopes, astronomers have managed to spot three “hot spots” that orbit the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy. These flares travelled at 30 per cent the speed of light and went around the monstrous dark mass in 45 minutes. They also occupied the closest safest orbit anything can around a black hole; just a little bit closer, and they fall right into the singularity from which even light can’t escape. Read the story here.

Two NASA spacecraft die the same week

NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which orbits the earth and has helped discover more than 2,600 exoplanets and spotted an exomoon, has finally reached the end of its nine-year mission. The spacecraft ran out of fuel. More on Vox.

The Dawn spacecraft that is currently orbiting the largest asteroid Ceres also ran out of fuel the same day the end of Kepler mission was announced. It was launched in 2007 and orbited the asteroid Vesta first before hopping on to Ceres, which is also a dwarf planet. It will continue to orbit Ceres for a minimum of 20 more years, but perhaps forever. The Verge has more details.

Octopuses take a beach vacation in the beach

In a mysterious unusual ritual, researchers aboard a vessel studying coral have found the world’s largest gathering of octopuses off the coast of California. Over 1,000 of them gathered on rocks 3 km below the surface, and nearly all of them were females. The researchers haven’t been able to figure out why so many octopuses would crowd in the area, but a video their vessel captured shows some glimmering which could mean that the rocks are a vent for something from deep underground. Atlas Obscura has more on this.

Flying dandelion seeds create powerful vortex

We’ve always thought that the only thing holding up the pretty tufts of flowers floating about in the air were the filaments which acted like a parachute. But more detailed observations and study has shown that the very filaments, due to the way air moves around them, causes tiny vortices in the atmosphere. These were theorised earlier but were thought to be too unstable to exist in real life. The same mechanisms are what power hurricanes around the world. New York Times Science has the lowdown.

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