In pictures: Hubble Telescope releases stunning new image to celebrate 24 years in orbit

In April the Hubble telescope, which has been in orbit since 1990, will turn 24 and to celebrate this momentous occasion Nasa has released a new image from the telescope.

The image is part of NGC 2174, which is most commonly known as the Monkey Head Nebula. The colourful region is filled with young stars.

The latest release shows colourful plumes of gas and fiery bright stars in the nebula.

The Hubble Space Telescope, a 2.4m aperture telescope in low Earth orbit, was carried into orbit by a space shuttle. It has four main instruments which observe near ultraviolet, visible and near infrared spectra.

New Hubble image of NGC 2174

The new image of NGC 2174, which lies about 6400 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Orion. The key ingredient in tNGC 2174 is hydrogen gas, which is ionised by radiation emitted by the young stars.


Image courtesy of Nasa, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).


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This image shows a wide field view of NGC 2174. The region of sky surrounding NGC 2174 is more commonly known as the Money Head Nebula. The small square near the centre of the image shows the location of the previous photo.


Image courtesy of NASA, ESA, Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, Palomar/Caltech


Visible and Infrared Comparison of NGC 2174

This image shows the visible and infrared comparison of the same detailed area in the star-forming nebula NGC 2174. Located on the left is a visible-light image and on the right is the infrared version. Infrared light penetrates more dust and gas than visible light allowing details to become visible.


Image courtesy of NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and J. Hester


Location of the Hubble IR Detail in NGC 2174

The image on the right shows the region of NGC 2174 taken in infrared. The left image comes from a ground based image taken by an amateur astrophotographer – the square shows the region where the Hubble’s photograph is located.


Image courtesy of  NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and R. Crisp

Featured image courtesy of European Space Agency


Robot takes first steps towards building artificial lifeforms

A robot equipped with sophisticated AI has successfully simulated the creation of artificial lifeforms, in a key first step towards the eventual goal of creating true artificial life.

The robot, which was developed by scientists at the University of Glasgow, was able to model the creation of artificial lifeforms using unstable oil-in-water droplets. These droplets effectively played the role of living cells, demonstrating the potential of future research to develop living cells based on building blocks that cannot be found in nature.

Significantly, the robot also successfully predicted their properties before they were created, even though this could not be achieved using conventional physical models.

The robot, which was designed by Glasgow University’s Regius Chair of Chemistry, Professor Lee Cronin, is driven by machine learning and the principles of evolution.

It has been developed to autonomously create oil-in-water droplets with a host of different chemical makeups and then use image recognition to assess their behaviour.

Using this information, the robot was able to engineer droplets to have different properties­. Those which were found to be desirable could then be recreated at any time, using a specific digital code.

“This work is exciting as it shows that we are able to use machine learning and a novel robotic platform to understand the system in ways that cannot be done using conventional laboratory methods, including the discovery of ‘swarm’ like group behaviour of the droplets, akin to flocking birds,” said Cronin.

“Achieving lifelike behaviours such as this are important in our mission to make new lifeforms, and these droplets may be considered ‘protocells’ – simplified models of living cells.”

One of the oil droplets created by the robot

The research, which is published today in the journal PNAS, is one of several research projects being undertaken by Cronin and his team within the field of artificial lifeforms.

While the overarching goal is moving towards the creation of lifeforms using new and unprecedented building blocks, the research may also have more immediate potential applications.

The team believes that their work could also have applications in several practical areas, including the development of new methods for drug delivery or even innovative materials with functional properties.

Mac spyware stole millions of user images

A criminal case brought against a man from Ohio, US has shed more light on a piece of Mac malware, dubbed Fruitfly, that was used to surreptitiously turn on cameras and microphones, take and download screenshots, log keystrokes, and steal tax and medical records, photographs, internet searches, and bank transactions from users.

Source: Ars Technica

Drone swarm attack strikes Russian military bases

Russia's Ministry of Defence claims its forces in Syria were attacked a week ago by a swarm of home-made drones. According to Russia's MoD Russian forces at the Khmeimim air base and Tartus naval facility "successfully warded off a terrorist attack with massive application of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)"

Source: Science Alert

Las Vegas strip club employs robot strippers

A Las Vegas strip club has flown in robot strippers from London to 'perform' at the club during CES. Sapphire Las Vegas strip club managing partner Peter Feinstein said that he employed the robots because the demographics of CES have changed and the traditional female strippers aren’t enough to lure a crowd to the club anymore.

Source: Daily Beast

GM to make driverless cars without steering wheels or pedals by 2019

General Motors has announced it plans to mass-produce self-driving cars without traditional controls like steering wheels and pedals by 2019. “It’s a pretty exciting moment in the history of the path to wide scale [autonomous vehicle] deployment and having the first production car with no driver controls,” GM President Dan Ammann told The Verge.

Source: The Verge

Russia-linked hackers "Fancy Bears" target the IOC

Following Russia's ban from the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, the Russia-linked hacking group "Fancy Bears" has published a set of apparently stolen emails, which purportedly belong to officials from the International Olympic Committee, the United States Olympic Committee, and third-party groups associated with the organisations.

Source: Wired

Scientists discover ice cliffs on Mars

Using images provided by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists have described how steep cliffs, up to 100 meters tall, made of what appears to be nearly pure ice indicate that large deposits of ice may also be located in nearby underground deposits. The discovery has been described as “very exciting” for potential human bases.

Source: Science Mag