First heavy element identified from a neutron-star collision

Seeing this strontium supports the idea that these smashups create many elements heavier than iron

Astronomers have for the first time definitively ID’d the birth of a specific heavy element during a neutron-star smashup. They found strontium. And it showed up in the wavelengths of light — or spectra — making up this collision’s afterglow. Read more.

The ratio of carbon isotopes in three common species of tuna has changed substantially since 2000, suggesting major shifts are taking place in phytoplankton populations that form the base of the ocean's food web, a new international study finds.

“The change we observed in tuna, which are near the top of the marine food web, reflects profound changes in physiology or species composition occurring at the bottom of the food web,” said Nicolas Cassar, professor of biogeochemistry at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Read more.

Strange lake belches flammable gas in the high Arctic

Lake Esieh is spewing vast amounts of methane — a potent greenhouse gas

September 8, 2017, was an exciting date for Katey Walter Anthony. On this cool, windless evening she first visited Alaska’s Lake Esieh. Few people visit this remote stretch of wilderness. It is covered in tundra and scraggly spruce trees. Thousands of lakes dot the region. But Walter Anthony quickly realized that this lake was strange. As her boat glided across it, she came to a place where the water seemed to be boiling.

The water wasn’t warm. But it roiled and fizzed. Bubbles of all sizes streamed up, popping at the surface. One bubble, as large as a softball, gave off a loud bloonk as it ruptured. The bubbles covered a swath of the lake larger than a football field. And they rose with such force that they slowly pushed her boat to the side.

Walter Anthony leaned over the edge of the boat and collected some bubbles in a bottle. Then she struck a match and opened the bottle to release the gas she had just collected. The gas caught fire! Read more.

Geoscientists find new fallout from ‘the collision that changed the world’

When the landmass that is now the Indian subcontinent slammed into Asia about 50 million years ago, the collision changed the configuration of the continents, the landscape, global climate and more. Now a team of Princeton University scientists has identified one more effect: the oxygen in the world’s oceans increased, altering the conditions for life. Read more.