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Mystery 'blob' emitting cosmic rays discovered

Scientists have found an unusual "hot spot" centered just below the best-known star constellation visible from Earth, the Plough, which could help explain a decades-long mystery.

The 'blob', situated two hand-widths below the "handle" of the Plough, an arrangement of seven stars within the Great Bear constellation, may shed new light on the origin of ultra-high energy cosmic rays, scientists said.

This map, created by the University of Tokyo Institute for Cosmic Ray Research, shows where the "hot spot"  is in the northern sky.
This map, created by the University of Tokyo Institute for Cosmic Ray Research, shows where the "hot spot" is in the northern sky. Credit: PA

While lower energy cosmic rays come from stars, the origin of the highest energy rays still cannot be fully explained.

"All we see is a blob in the sky, and inside this blob there is all sorts of stuff - various types of objects that could be the source," said US astronomer Professor Gordon Thomson, from the University of Utah.

"Now we know where to look," added Prof Thomson.


Scientists: The answer to string 'spontaneously' knotting

Scientists have shown that cable roughly the length of a set of headphones cannot help but tangle itself into a knot.

Experiments carried out by school pupils in Coventry, proved that the longer the length of a piece of string, the more likely it was to form a knot, if jangled at random.

Scientists have proved that after a day of being at the bottom of your bag, headphone cable will weave itself into a knot.
Scientists have proved that after a day of being at the bottom of your bag, headphone cable will weave itself into a knot. Credit: PA

But Robert Matthews, a physicist at Aston University, Birmingham, has come up with a solution after formally testing the theory with the help of pupils from Coundon Court school, near Coventry, who carried out 12,000 tests.

"Simply clipping together the two ends of the cords makes the cable less likely to form a knot, saving the frustration of having to untangle it before plugging in," he told The Times.


Fish 'capture and store 1 million tonnes of carbon'

Scientists have found that deep sea fish remove and store more than one million tonnes of Co2 from UK and Irish surface waters every year.

Fish deep offshore. Credit: PA

This natural carbon capture and storage scheme could store carbon equivalent to £10 million per year in carbon credits, according to the new study.

Researchers are warning that large-scale fishing and mining in deep waters could deplete this "valuable" resource.

The team from the University of Southampton and Marine Institute, Ireland, used novel biochemical tracers to piece together the diets of deep-water fish revealing their role in transferring carbon to the ocean depths.

New planet dubbed 'mega-Earth' discovered

A new rocky planet dubbed a "mega-Earth" has been discovered in a distant star system.

The heavyweight world is up to 17 times more massive than the Earth, scientists announced.

A new planet, known as Kepler-10c, has been discovered Credit: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/PA

According to scientists, the planet should have evolved over time into a gaseous "mini-Neptune."

Instead, Kepler-10c has managed to remain solid despite being more than twice as old as the Earth.

"We were very surprised when we realised what we had found," said astronomer Dr Xavier Dumusque, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who has led the research.

The discovery suggests that potentially life-bearing rocky planets may be far more abundant than was thought, and some could be immensely ancient.

Faulty genes 'cause night munchies'

Night-time snacking is the result of your genes, according to new scientific research.

Scientists from the Salk Institute in California have found that 'night munchies' are linked to a faulty PER1 gene, which controls the body's sleeping and eating patterns.

A man looks into his fridge full of food
Late night snacking has become a ritual for many people, but its cause may lie in science Credit: Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press/Press Association Images

If a person's sleeping and eating habits become desynchronised, this can lead to night-time hunger pangs which disrupt sleep and may lead to over-eating and weight gain.

Ian Read: 'We like that AstraZeneca science is in the UK'

Pfizer's chief executive has moved to calm fears about the impact of his company's proposed takeover of AstraZeneca on British science.

Pfizer chief executive Ian Read has moved to calm fears about Pfizer's takeover of AstraZeneca. Credit: Pfizer

Speaking on a video on Pfizer's website, Ian Read pointed out the strength of the UK's academic institutions, saying:

"When we looked at AZ, we liked their science, We liked where their science is being done, which is in the UK.

"And we know we have good science in the UK in the Cambridge, Oxford, London and other universities."

Read: Pfizer boss: AstraZeneca takeover a 'win-win for society'

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