New Delhi: For the first time, scientists have detected seismic data on a ‘boomerang earthquake’ that occurred underwater. In 2016, an earthquake of magnitude 7.1 occurred on the Atlantic seafloor, off the coast of Liberia in western Africa.
Looking at the data from the South American and African tectonic plates, scientists found that the quake first rushed northeast, then unexpectedly turned and struck the fault line again going west, returning to the spot from where it had originated. Thus the name ‘boomerang’ earthquake.
If such quakes were to hit on land, the tremors would be much stronger and cause significant damage. This study can help better understand the physics behind boomerang earthquakes and prepare for them. More on National Geographic.
NASA decodes mystery behind unusual dimming of giant star Betelgeuse
Using data from the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA has decoded what caused the mysterious dimming of a giant star Betelgeuse located more than 500 light years away.
Betelgeuse is a red supergiant star that has recently swelled in size and then started dimming in October 2019. The star got several astronomers excited because such events in a star are similar to what happens before a supernova explosion.
Observations now show that the unexpected dimming of Betelgeuse was most likely caused by an immense amount of hot material ejected into space, forming a dust cloud that blocked starlight coming from Betelgeuse’s surface. By May this year, the star returned to normal brightness. More on Space.
NASA’s TESS telescope spots 66 new planets outside our solar system
NASA’s exoplanet-hunting TESS space telescope has helped discover 66 new planets in outer space, and spotted nearly 2,100 potentials that still need to be confirmed.
TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) finished its primary two-year mission on 4 July. However, the space telescope will continue to look for new worlds in the outer space on an extended mission until September 2022.
TESS was launched in April 2018. It hunts for alien worlds using the transit method, which involves monitoring stars for a small, periodic dip in brightness caused when a planet crosses the path between the star and the telescope.
Using the same principle, NASA’s Kepler space telescope found more than 2,600 planets. Although the Kepler telescope was decommissioned in 2018, data from the telescope is still helping scientists spot new planets. More on Scientific American.
Climate change drove prehistoric woolly rhinoceros to extinction
Ancient woolly rhinoceros, which roamed the planet until only a few thousand years ago, went extinct due to climate change — and not because of overhunting by humans — a new study has found.
Scientists sequenced the DNA from the fossils of 14 woolly rhinos and found that these megaherbivores disappeared from Siberia when temperatures likely rose too high for the species that was adapted to live in cold climates.
Initially it was thought that humans appeared in northeastern Siberia 14,000 or 15,000 years ago, which was around the same that these woolly rhinos went extinct.
However, several other research teams found evidence of older human settlements, some of which are around 30,000 years old. This indicates that the decline of the woolly rhinoceros doesn’t coincide with the appearance of humans in the region.
A look at the genome sequences of these woolly rhinos revealed that their population started declining about 4,500 years ago, which coincides with a brief warming period in Siberia, leading scientists to the conclusion that the extinction of the species was linked to climate change. More on CNN.
Dinosaur species from the family of T.rex discovered in the UK
Scientists have discovered a new species of dinosaur that lived 115 million years ago. Researchers from University of Southampton concluded that the dinosaur comes from the same family as the Tyrannosaurus, colloquially referred as T.rex. This family of dinosaurs were giant predators, with sharp teeth and claws to help devour their prey.
The dinosaur had large air spaces in some of its bones, which the team believes is an extension of its lungs. The team believes that these air sacs helped it breathe better while also making its skeleton lighter.
The team has derived all of this information based on four bones that were discovered in 2019. The bones discovered were from the reptile’s neck, back and tail. More on BBC.
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