Hubble finds far-away planet vanishing at record speed – In their quest to learn more about faraway planets, astronomers discovered that a medium-sized planet roughly the size of Neptune is evaporating at a rate 100 times faster than a previously discovered planet of similar size.

Source: R. Allart, et al. Spectrally resolved helium absorption from the extended atmosphere of a warm Neptune-mass exoplanet. Science, 2018.

Massive Planetary Embryo Crashed into Jupiter 4.5 Billion Years Ago – An energetic head-on collision between a large planetary embryo and the proto-Jupiter about 4.5 billion years ago could explain puzzling gravitational readings from NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which suggest that Jupiter’s core is less dense and more extended that expected.

Source: Shang-Fei Liu, et al. The formation of Jupiter’s diluted core by a giant impact. Nature, 2019.

Microplastics Are Falling Along With Snow in the Arctic – Tiny bits of plastic are common in remote Arctic regions, likely carried by winds far over the ocean.

Source: Melanie Bergmann, et al. White and wonderful? Microplastics prevail in snow from the Alps to the Arctic. Science Advances, 2019.

Neanderthal's Got 'Surfer's Ear' A Lot, Study Says – Exostoses, bony growths in the ear, hint that Neanderthals spent a lot of time foraging in aquatic environments.

Source: Erik Trinkaus, Mathilde Samsel, Sébastien Villotte, Michael D. Petraglia. External auditory exostoses among western Eurasian late Middle and Late Pleistocene humans. PLOS ONE, 2019.

Cyclocarbon: New Form of Carbon Synthesized – A team of researchers from the University of Oxford and IBM Research-Zürich has, for the first time, synthesized and characterized a ring of 18 carbon atoms.

Source: Katharina Kaiser, et al. An sp-hybridized molecular carbon allotrope, cyclo[18]carbon. Science, 2019.

Glitch in Vela Pulsar Provides Unique Opportunity to Study Neutron Star’s Interior – In a new study, a team of astronomers from Monash University, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav), McGill University, and the University of Tasmania, analyzed data from the 2016 glitch of a neutron star known as the Vela pulsar.

Source: Gregory Ashton, Paul D. Lasky, Vanessa Graber, Jim Palfreyman. Rotational evolution of the Vela pulsar during the 2016 glitch. Nature Astronomy, 2019.

These Robotic Shorts Make Everyday Strolls Feel Like a Moving Airport Walkway – If you have two functioning legs and a reliable nervous system, walking and running are generally thoughtless tasks. But if you’re a soldier hauling massive amounts of gear on your back for an extended period of time, putting one foot in front of the other can get exhausting. That’s where the idea for a soft, …

Source: Jinsoo Kim, et al. Reducing the metabolic rate of walking and running with a versatile, portable exosuit. Science, 2019.

Invasive Species Could Kill Nearly Half of U.S. Forests – Around 40 percent of forests in the contiguous U.S. are at risk from invasive species, along with the millions of tons of carbon they soak up every year.

Source: Songlin Fei, Randall S. Morin, Christopher M. Oswalt, Andrew M. Liebhold. Biomass losses resulting from insect and disease invasions in US forests. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019.

World’s Largest Parrot Lived 19 Million Years Ago in New Zealand – An international group of paleontologists has found two incomplete bones from an ancient parrot with a mass of 7 kg, double that of the heaviest known parrot, the kakapo (Strigops habroptila).

Source: Trevor H. Worthy, Suzanne J. Hand, Michael Archer, R. Paul Scofield, Vanesa L. De Pietri. Evidence for a giant parrot from the Early Miocene of New Zealand. Biology Letters, 2019.

Staring at Seagulls Makes Them Less Likely to Snatch Your Food – A team of researchers from the University of Exeter, UK, put a bag of chips on the ground and tested how long it took herring gulls (Larus argentatus) to approach when a human was watching them, compared to when the human looked away: on average, gulls took 21 seconds longer to approach the food with a human staring at them.

Source: Madeleine Goumas, Isabella Burns, Laura A. Kelley, Neeltje J. Boogert. Herring gulls respond to human gaze direction. Biology Letters, 2019.

Researchers Develop New Method for Sexing Sperm – Scientists found they could sort mouse sperm prior to IVF by treating semen with a drug that selectively slows down X-bearing cells.

Source: Takashi Umehara, Natsumi Tsujita, Masayuki Shimada, Yukiko M Yamashita. Activation of Toll-like receptor 7/8 encoded by the X chromosome alters sperm motility and provides a novel simple technology for sexing sperm. PLOS Biology, 2019.