Astronomers have spotted the farthest galaxy ever

An international team of astronomers, including researchers at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, has spotted the most distant astronomical object ever: a galaxy. Named HD1, the galaxy candidate is some 13.5 billion light-years away and is described Thursday in the Astrophysical Journal. In an accompanying paper published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters, scientists have begun to speculate exactly what the galaxy is.

HD1 is extremely bright in ultraviolet light. It breaks the highest quasar redshift on record by almost a factor of two, a remarkable feat. HD1 was discovered after more than 1,200 hours of observing time with the Subaru Telescope, VISTA Telescope, UK Infrared Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope. HD1’s red color matched the expected characteristics of a galaxy 13.5 billion light-years away surprisingly well. The team then conducted follow-up observations using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to confirm the distance, which is 100 million light years further than GN-z11, the current record-holder for the furthest galaxy.

— source Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics | Apr 7, 2022

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Ancient DNA analysis sheds light on dark event in medieval Spain

An international research team led by the University of Huddersfield’s Archaeogenetics Research Group, including geneticists, archaeological scientists, and archaeologists, has published the genome sequence of a unique individual from Islamic medieval Spain — al-Andalus — the results of which have shed light on a brutal event that took place in medieval Spain.

The individual, who was discovered in an eleventh century Islamic necropolis from the city of Segorbe, near Valencia in Spain, is known to local archaeologists as the ‘Segorbe Giant’ because of his unusual height.

His skeleton had suggested that he might have some African ancestry. Most of Spain had been progressively conquered by Arabs and Berbers from Northwest Africa from the eighth

— source University of Huddersfield | Sep 23, 2021

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SARS-CoV-2 protein targeted by immune cells also triggers response in bat coronaviruses

A future vaccine providing protection against a wide range of coronaviruses that jump from their original animal hosts to humans — including SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19 — may be possible, say Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers, based on findings from their recent study.

In a paper posted online Jan. 21, 2022, in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the research team focused on a peptide, or protein fragment, on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein — the target of the two available messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines for COVID-19 — called S815-827. Homologs (equivalent peptides) can be found on the spike proteins of MERS-CoV (the virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, more commonly known as MERS, and believed to have been passed from camels to humans) and other animal coronaviruses. The researchers were particularly interested in studying the S815-827 homologs seen in coronaviruses hosted by bats because SARS-CoV-2 is believed to have risen from a bat species. Additionally, bat-borne coronaviruses are considered a major threat for producing future zoonotic (animal-to-human) diseases.

Previous research studies looking at a variety of human coronaviruses that cause the common cold have shown that homologs of the S815-827 peptide — also known as an epitope

— source Johns Hopkins Medicine | Feb 16, 2022

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Ancestors of legionella bacteria infected cells two billion years ago

Researchers at Uppsala University have discovered that the ancestors of legionella bacteria infected eukaryotic cells as early as two billion years ago. It happened soon after eukaryotes began to feed on bacteria. These results, described in a new study published in Molecular Biology and Evolution, are also relevant in the chicken-or-egg debate about whether mitochondria or phagocytosis came first.

“Our study can help us understand how harmful bacteria arise and how complex cells evolved from simpler cells,” says Lionel Guy, associate professor of evolutionary microbiology at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, who headed the study.

Two billion years ago, ancestors of legionella bacteria already had the ability to avoid being digested by eukaryotes. Instead, they began using eukaryotic cells — complex cells

— source Uppsala University | Feb 15, 2022

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Gruesome ‘Blood Worms’ Invaded a Dinosaur’s Leg Bone

Around 80 million years ago in what is now Brazil, a sick dinosaur limped along—but its days were numbered. Its leg bone was so diseased that it had turned spongy, and a particularly gruesome culprit may have been to blame: wormlike parasites wriggling through its bloodstream. Researchers analyzing the fossilized bone recently found strange, oblong forms in channels that once were blood vessels. The dinosaur in question was a titanosaur, a gigantic long-necked animal with legs the size of tree trunks.

After initially noticing abnormalities in the leg bone, Aline Ghilardi at Brazil’s Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, along with her colleagues, set out to discover what ailed the titanosaur. They ruled out cancer and tuberculosis; these often reduce blood flow in affected bone areas, but this fossil’s irregular surface suggested it had once been riddled with vascular canals coursing with blood and pus. A CT scan also revealed internal cavities probably associated with blood flow.

The researchers concluded that this titanosaur had a rare bone condition called osteomyelitis, which causes severe inflammation. When they cut thin slices of the fossil, coated

— source scientificamerican.com | Chris Baraniuk | Oct 30, 2020

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Sun is likely an unaccounted source of the Earth’s water

A University of Glasgow-led international team of researchers including those from Curtin’s Space Science and Technology Centre (SSTC) found the solar wind, comprised of charged particles from the Sun largely made of hydrogen ions, created water on the surface of dust grains carried on asteroids that smashed into the Earth during the early days of the Solar System. solar wind created water on the surface of tiny dust grains and this isotopically lighter water. This new solar wind theory is based on meticulous atom-by-atom analysis of miniscule fragments of an S-type near-Earth asteroid known as Itokawa, samples of which were collected by the Japanese space probe Hayabusa and returned to Earth in 2010

— source Curtin University | Nov 29, 2021

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Deer may be reservoir for SARS-CoV-2

More than 80% percent of the white-tailed deer sampled in different parts of Iowa between December 2020 and January 2021 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The percentage of SARS-CoV-2 positive deer increased throughout the study, with 33% of all deer testing positive. The findings suggest that white-tailed deer may be a reservoir for the virus to continually circulate and raise concerns of emergence of new strains that may prove a threat to wildlife and, possibly, to humans.

— source Penn State University | Nov 03, 2021

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50,000-Year-old Social Network Across Africa

Humans are social creatures, but little is known about when, how, and why different populations connected in the past. Answering these questions is crucial for interpreting the biological and cultural diversity that we see in human populations today. DNA is a powerful tool for studying genetic interactions between populations, but it can’t address any cultural exchanges within these ancient meetings. Now, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History have turned to an unexpected source of information—ostrich eggshell beads—to shed light on ancient social networks. In a new study published in Nature, researchers Drs. Jennifer Miller and Yiming Wang report 50,000-years of population connection and isolation, driven by changing rainfall patterns, in southern and eastern Africa.

— source Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History | Dec 20, 2021

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