From a surprise visit by the world's second largest fish to freeze-dried pets and lifelike liquid sculptures, here are the best science photos of the week.
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World's Second Largest Fish Surprises Scientists
Credit: Greg Skomal.
On Feb. 2, a basking shark — the world's second largest fish — tagged with a tracking device in June 2011 suddenly checked in near Hawaii — after eight months of silence, researchers reported this week. The fish, tagged near San Diego, was one of only four basking sharks ever tagged in the eastern Pacific, and the lone shark to keep its tag for such a long time. [Read full story]
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Credit: NASA, ESA, CFHT, CXO, M.J. Jee (University of California, Davis), and A. Mahdavi (San Francisco State University)
Ghostly rainbows seem to dominate the core of the galaxy cluster Abell 520 2.4 billion light-years away. In fact, the colors represent dark matter, galaxies and hot gas formed from the collision of massive galaxy clusters. Starlight is colored orange, hot gas is green, and blue areas represent the densest part of the cluster, most of which is dark matter. [See more amazing science images]
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Got an Itch? Grab a Rock
Credit: Volker Deecke
In July 2010, a brown bear had an itch. To scratch it, he picked up a barnacle-covered rock and rubbed it over his muzzle.
Volker Deecke, a researcher at the University of Cumbria in the United Kingdom, happened to be watching at the edge of Glacier Bay, in Alaska, when he observed this, the first known example of tool use by a brown bear, Deecke reported this week. (Click on the photo to see the whole series of images.) [Read full story]
Mike McCullough never intended to start freeze-drying beloved pets for grieving owners; and neither did other taxidermists who say the process, albeit taking special techniques, is a service to people who love their fluffy companions. There seems to be a trend of younger people opting for freeze-dry pet preservation. [Read full story]
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Twin Baby Corals!
Credit: Heyward & Negri, AIMS
Embryos of corals, which are complex marine animals with differentiated cell layers and tissues, are able to reorganize their bodies, even if they've broken in half, to form anew. This means that when even a gentle wave comes along and a coral embryo is damaged, it just ends up turning into two smaller, identical twins, research out this week found. [Read full story]
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Happy Birthday Doomsday Vault
Credit: Mari Tefre/Global Crop Diversity Trust
This week, the Doomsday Seed Vault in Norway is scheduled to receive nearly 25,000 samples of seeds from around the world, including those of grains that grow on one of the world's highest mountain ranges and a plant whose stems redden an Ecuadorean drink on the "Day of the Dead." [Read full story]
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Fossil Forest Discovered
Credit: Frank Mannolini
One of the earliest forests in the world was home to towering palmlike trees and woody plants that crept along the ground like vines, a new fossil find reveals. [Read full story]
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Spying Stellar Puberty
Astronomers have spotted a swarm of young stars in the famous Orion nebula in the midst of their growing pains — a turbulent phase when the fledgling stars mature into adulthood.
In the new Orion nebula photo, the bright specks of stars are awash in rainbow colors that represent different wavelengths of infrared light. This stunning view of the well-known stellar nursery, which is located 1,350 light-years from Earth, helps astronomers piece together the process of star formation. [Read full story]
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The Power of Black Holes
Credit: ESA/AOES Medialab
The supermassive black holes in active galaxies can produce narrow particle jets (orange) and wider streams of gas (blue-gray) known as ultra-fast outflows, which are powerful enough to regulate both star formation in the wider galaxy and the growth of the black hole, astronomers reported this week. [Read full story]