2020
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The Greatest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2020

Updated September 14, 2020 • 10:00am PDT 34.8k views27 items

Recent scientific advances from 2020 have led to new scientific discoveries while also expanding the scope of what we can explore in space. The latest breakthroughs in science provide us with information regarding potentially habitable worlds beyond our galaxy as well as what is happening right here on Earth. The scientific advancements that have allowed us to see beyond the stars have also given us the opportunity to evoke change in our current climate. The latest discoveries in science and technology give us a chance to make scientific breakthroughs beyond our wildest imaginations. 

Science and technology in 2020 is so advanced it's led to some of the most impressive science discoveries this year. Space and science news in 2020 might lead us in a new direction and challenge the boundaries of what we're capable of. And the most important scientific breakthroughs in 2020 will make it easier for us to grow without disrupting our daily lives. Recent scientific discoveries include radio technology transmitted from another galaxy, and a potentially bursting Betelgeuse Star. 

Science news in 2020 reveals some of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of all time, new science discoveries, and advancements that far outweigh expectations based on the greatest scientific breakthroughs of 2019.

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  • Astronomers Detect Possible Sign Of Life In Venus's Atmosphere

    Scientists believe they might have discovered sign of life on Venus after discovering a gas called phosphine in the planet's clouds. According to a study published September 14, 2020, in the journal Nature Astronomy, phosphine "could originate from unknown photochemistry or geochemistry, or, by analogy with biological production of [phosphine] on Earth, from the presence of life."

    On Earth, phosphine is a toxic gas produced by bacteria that doesn't need oxygen in places like swamps and marshes. Venus, the second planet from the sun, is the hottest planet in our solar system with a dense atmosphere that can lead to temperatures as high as 800 degrees, and its atmosphere is full of sulfuric acid. Scientists previously didn't believe any form of life could survive on or around Venus, but the presence of phosphine suggests that only something alive could be the source of the gas.

    “This is an astonishing and ‘out of the blue’ finding,” said Sara Seager, one of the paper's authors and a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to The New York Times. “It will definitely fuel more research into the possibilities for life in Venus’s atmosphere.”

       

  • Astronomers Capture An Image Of Another Galaxy As It Existed 11 Billion Years Ago

    Using images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, lead researcher Tiantian Yuan, Ph.D., of Australia's ARC Centre of Excellence and her colleagues observed a "cosmic ring of fire" galaxy recorded 11 billion years ago. According to the study, published in Nature Astronomy, the newly developed image could bring fresh observations to previous theories about how early galactic structures formed and evolve.

    The galaxy, called R5519, is roughly the same mass as the Milky Way, with a hole at its center that is 2 billion times longer than the distance between Earth and the sun. Yuan said it "is making stars at a rate 50 times greater than the Milky Way," and most of that activity occurs around the central ring, influencing the galaxy's identification as a "cosmic ring of fire." It is one of the first-ever ring galaxies located in the early universe, as ring galaxies are thought to be uncommon. 

  • NASA Announces Plans To Launch The First Two Modules Of The Gateway Station On The Same Rocket

    Photo: SpaceX / Fair Use

    NASA's Gateway mission seeks to keep astronauts healthy while exploring deep space by sending a space station into an "exotic" orbit around the moon. With the project exceedingly over budget and behind schedule by mid-2020, NASA redirected its attention to a heavy-lift rocket that will send the first two modules of the Gateway station into orbit around the moon at the same time. The SpaceX Falcon heavy rocket is expected to take flight in 2023, and according to NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration, Doug Loverro, using one rocket to launch the Gateway's Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) and the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) "will save money and reduce technical risk on the program." 

    Originally, both PPE and HALO were expected to take flight on separate rockets, but by using the same rocket for both Gateway modules, the program reduces its already high costs. Ultimately, NASA hopes to build the Gateway station in an elliptical orbit around the moon that astronauts from the Artemis lunar program can use as a safe haven. 

  • Scientists Observe A Star Circling A Black Hole That Proves Einstein's Theory Of Relativity

    Photo: @ESO / Twitter

    In a study published in Astronomy & Astrophysics on April 16, 2020, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics confirmed Einstein's theory of relativity. Using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, researchers observed, for the first time, a star orbiting the the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy in the shape of a rosette. Whereas Isaac Newton's theory of gravity would have the star rotating like an ellipse, project lead Reinhard Genzel said, "Einstein's general relativity predicts that bound orbits of one object around another are not closed... but precess forwards in the plane of motion," just as the star demonstrated. 

    Researchers have been watching the star for over 27 years, and had previously noticed that the light emitted from the star "experiences general relativity." Paulo Garcia, co-author of the study, said scientists have now "shown that the star itself senses the effects of general relativity."