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MeerKAT radio telescope data (green) showing the odd radio circles is overlaid on optical and near infra-red data.

The odd radio circle’s large outer circle is possibly more than a million light-years across.J. English (U. Manitoba)/EMU/MeerKAT/DES(CTIO)

Astronomers have captured a rare image of ‘odd radio circles’, rare space objects made up of gigantic rings of radio waves. Only five of these massive balls of radio waves have ever been spotted, with most containing a galaxy at their centre. Researchers have proposed three theories to explain their origin: they are created from shock waves, radio jets or starbursts in the centre of their galaxies. “This discovery will start new scientific research,” says radio astronomer Alice Pasetto.

Nature | 3 min read

Reference: arXiv preprint

The Great Barrier Reef is experiencing its fourth mass bleaching event in the past six years. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) confirmed the event following aerial surveys that showed widespread bleaching across a representative sample of 750 reefs, despite the cooling effect of the La Niña weather system. “It is important to note that bleached coral is stressed but still alive,” said the GBRMPA in a statement. “If conditions moderate, bleached corals can recover from this stress, as was the case in 2020.” Scientists have urged the United Nations cultural organization UNESCO to declare the reef ‘in danger’ to raise awareness that it is “nearing its tipping point, beyond which the reef will lose its function as a viable ecosystem”.

The Guardian | 6 min read & The Conversation | 6 min read

A supernova in the Milky Way could ignite at any time — and astronomers will be ready to watch it happen. An early warning system that uses neutrino observatories, such as Super-Kamiokande in Japan, will recognize the first particles that flood out from a supernova.

Nature | 10 min video

Reference: Nature paper

Features & opinion

Principal investigator (PI) roles are proving more elusive as trainees seek opportunities elsewhere. Researchers in Germany tracked people who had completed PhDs and postdocs at European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) campuses. The proportion that became PIs within five years dropped from 44% around the turn of the millennium to 30% ten years later. Another study looked at the careers of around 80,000 postdocs in the United States. It found much mobility between the sectors of government, industry and academia, another sign that postdocs have career options beyond the standard straight-line path from graduate student to laboratory head.

Nature | 6 min read

A last visit to the old house triggers memories — both organic and digital — for two siblings in the latest short story for Nature’s Futures series.

Nature | 4 min read

Scientific American’s pick of the top five science books to read this week includes Earth’s sonic diversity, secret bird scents and pandemic-inspired sci-fi.

Scientific American | 7 min read

To understand when and how the Milky Way formed, researchers need to know when its stars were born. Astronomers have found precise ages for nearly a quarter of a million stars, revealing more about the sequence of events that took place as our Galaxy formed.

Nature Podcast | 28 min listen

Reference: Nature paper

Subscribe to the Nature Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify.

Today, Leif Penguinson is basking in or around the Deep Creek Hot Springs in the San Bernardino National Forest in California. Leif might be chatting with an endangered arroyo southwestern toad (Bufo microscaphus californicus), which lives in the sandy shore of the creek. Can you find the penguin?The answer will be in Monday’s e-mail, all thanks to Briefing photo editor and penguin wrangler Tom Houghton.

Thanks for reading,

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

With contributions by Nicky Phillips

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