"Great Oxidation Event" --A New Discovery of Evolutionary Singularity that Transformed the Planet


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For most terrestrial life on Earth, oxygen is necessary for survival. But the planet's atmosphere did not always contain this life-sustaining substance, and one of science's greatest mysteries is how and when oxygenic photosynthesis—the process responsible for producing oxygen on Earth through the splitting of water molecules—first began. Now, a team led by geobiologists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has found evidence of a precursor photosystem involving manganese that predates cyanobacteria, the first group of organisms to release oxygen into the environment via photosynthesis.

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Image of the Day: Twin Gigantic Black Holes Found at Galaxy Center

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A galaxy already known to have one enormous  black hole at its core is actually home to two of these scary giants. Astronomers discovered the second monster black hole at the center of the galaxy Markarian 739, which is about 425 million light-years from Earth in observations by NASA's Swift satellite and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

The two black holes are separated by about 11,000 light years, which is about one-third the distance between our solar system and the center of the Milky Way. One light-year is about 6 trillion miles.

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Image of the Day: Awesome Beauty of Star Birth

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This new portrait of the bright star-forming region NGC 346, in which different wavelengths of light swirl together like watercolors, reveals new information about how stars form. NGC 346 is located 210 000 light-years away in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a neighboring dwarf galaxy of the Milky Way. The image is based on data from ESA XMM-Newton (X-rays; blue), ESO's New Technology Telescope (visible light; green), and NASA's Spitzer (infrared; red). The infrared light shows cold dust, while the visible light denotes glowing gas, and the X-rays represent very hot gas. Ordinary stars appear as blue spots with white centers, while young stars enshrouded in dust appear as red spots with white center. 

Credit: ESO/ESA/JPL-Caltech/NASA/D. Gouliermis (MPIA) et al.