Microscope

Call it a galaxy in a bottle. Last month, astronomers in Europe released a detailed, three-dimensional map of the Milky Way, which contains the vital statistics of some 1.3 billion stars - about 1 per cent of the entire cosmic panoply of which earth and the sun are part. 

  • Published 14.05.18
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Map of the galaxy

• Call it a galaxy in a bottle. Last month, astronomers in Europe released a detailed, three-dimensional map of the Milky Way, which contains the vital statistics of some 1.3 billion stars - about 1 per cent of the entire cosmic panoply of which earth and the sun are part. Not to mention measurements of almost half a million quasars, asteroids and other flecks in the night. The map is the latest result from the European Space Agency's Gaia mission, which was launched in December 2013.

Scent decoded

• French researchers have figured out precisely which genes make a rose smell so sweet, and where to tinker in the genome to enhance its distinctive scent. Breeding for beauty has, over the years, faded out the aroma of the rose. The study in Nature Genetics also indicates which genes tend to travel together - scent and colour, for instance - and which genes are responsible for continuous blooming. It reveals how the rose differs from its closest cousin, the strawberry, and its more distant apple relations.

Whale and baby

• Humpback whales who live and breed in the southern oceans near Antarctica appear to be making a comeback, with females in recent years giving birth to more calves. Humpbacks were nearly hunted out of existence until treaties were signed to stop killing them in the late 20th century. This has fostered the recovery of the school-bus-sized animals, says Ari Friedlaender of the University of California, Santa Cruz, who led the new study.

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