It’s 50 times more massive than the sun. And it’s from a relatively young galaxy, as galaxies go. But plenty about the just-discovered primordial star Earendel is as fuzzy as the images of it captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, which is pictured above.
First off, is it one star or two? The light from the farthest observed celestial object may be from a pair of binary stars, Nadia Drake reports. Follow-up observations from the recently deployed James Webb Space Telescope could confirm the find—or reveal it to be something else entirely.
If it is a lone star, the hope is that Earendel could offer clues to the makeup of the cosmos not long after the big bang. “This will be our best chance,” NASA’s Jane Rigby says, “to study what an individual, massive star was like in the early universe.”
Left for later: Rattlesnakes often strike their prey, then go about their business while the venom does its work. Karine Aigner spotted this western diamondback resting under a tire before slithering from bush to bush finding—and eating—a lifeless Mexican ground squirrel (pictured above). “The snake knew exactly what it was looking for,” Aigner wrote on our Instagram page. “This species never fails to amaze me.” We recently wrote about another rattler superpower here.
PHOTOGRAPH BY SCOTLAND: THE BIG PICTURE, NATURE PICTURE LIBRARY
Interspecies communication: Kylie the wild dolphin, living off Scotland’s west coast, hasn’t been spotted with another dolphin for 14 years. But he has reduced his normal patter of whistles, clicks, and pulsing sounds to simple clicks when he “talks” to harbor porpoises (pictured above), who speak only with clicks. “Clearly, species in the wild interact much more than we thought,” dolphin behavior expert Denise Herzingtells Nat Geo.
Working in the Arctic, it’s really hard not to run into climate change. Everything around you is affected: Seasons are changing, ice cellars caving in, people breaking through the ice on their snow machines.
No angel: The earthworm has long been hailed as a gardener’s best friend and a slimy angel of the underworld. But a new study challenges its good reputation, at least in U.S. and Canadian forests. Earthworms in North America (pictured above), with origins in Europe, have surprising negative effects on native animals, such as ground nesting birds or salamanders, Nat Geo reports.