Three years after a mysterious cigar-shaped interstellar object was spotted hurtling through our solar system, sparking questions of alien spaceships and solar sails, a new study suggests this visitor may actually have been the cosmic version of a massive iceberg, formed in the birthplace of stars out of frozen hydrogen gas.
‘Oumuamua was our first visitor from a different solar system, discovered while already on its way out of our system, and it defied the known rules for asteroids and comets. Its oblong shape was interesting, but most baffling was its speed, which was faster than should’ve been possible if it was being propelled through space purely by gravitational force…
“It’s a frozen iceberg of molecular hydrogen,” Darryl Seligman, one of the paper’s authors, told UChigcao News. “This explains every mysterious property about it.
Hydrogen gas is “the dominant constituent of Giant Molecular Clouds,” which are enormous clusters of gases spanning hundreds of light years in size.
The densest parts of these clouds are where stars are born. The temperatures within these dense cores can also be some of the coldest in the universe. The paper suggests that “macroscopic bodies composed of frozen molecular hydrogen gas that are not incorporated into stellar systems,” are then “released into low-velocity dispersion galactic orbits,” meaning that objects such as ‘Oumuamua are some of the leftovers from the process of creating stars.
And, now that we’re capable of seeing and tracking an interstellar body like this – we’ll be watching out for more.
The hunt for an effective treatment for COVID-19 has led one team of researchers to an unlikely ally: a llama named Winter and her antibodies…
The researchers linked two copies of a special kind of antibody produced by llamas to create a new antibody that binds tightly to a key protein on the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This protein, called the spike protein, allows the virus to break into host cells. Initial tests indicate that the antibody blocks viruses that display this spike protein from infecting cells in culture.
“This is one of the first antibodies known to neutralize SARS-CoV-2,” says Jason McLellan, associate professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Texas at Austin and co-senior author, referring to the virus that causes COVID-19.
The team is now preparing to conduct preclinical studies in animals such as hamsters or nonhuman primates, with the hopes of next testing in humans. The goal is to develop a treatment that would help people soon after infection with the virus.
“Vaccines have to be given a month or two before infection to provide protection,” McLellan says. “With antibody therapies, you’re directly giving somebody the protective antibodies and so, immediately after treatment, they should be protected. The antibodies could also be used to treat somebody who is already sick to lessen the severity of the disease.”
Read on, my friends. Our society dotes on awarding laurels to champions. In addition to the scientists leading the fight against COVID-19, I suggest thanks also be awarded to the critters who test and trial and help us all to survive.
It really does require more than being together in the same room for most of the day.