GC 2899’s vast swathes of gas extend up to a maximum of two light-years from its centre, glowing brightly in front of the stars of the Milky Way as the gas reaches temperatures upwards of ten thousand degrees. The high temperatures are due to the large amount of radiation from the nebula’s parent star, which causes the hydrogen gas in the nebula to glow in a reddish halo around the oxygen gas, in blue.
This object, located between 3000 and 6500 light-years away in the Southern constellation of Vela (The Sails), has two central stars, which are believed to give it its nearly symmetric appearance. After one star reached the end of its life and cast off its outer layers, the other star now interferes with the flow of gas, forming the two-lobed shape seen here. Only about 10–20% of planetary nebulae  display this type of bipolar shape.
Astronomers were able to capture this highly detailed image of NGC 2899 using the FORS instrument installed on UT1 (Antu), one of the four 8.2-metre telescopes that make up ESO’s VLT in Chile. Standing for FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph, this high-resolution instrument was one of the first to be installed on ESO’s VLT and is behind numerous beautiful images and discoveries from ESO. FORS has contributed to observations of light from a gravitational wave source, has researched the first known interstellar asteroid, and has been used to study in depth the physics behind the formation of complex planetary nebulae.
This image was created under the ESO Cosmic Gems programme, an outreach initiative to produce images of interesting, intriguing or visually attractive objects using ESO telescopes, for the purposes of education and public outreach. The programme makes use of telescope time that cannot be used for science observations. All data collected may also be suitable for scientific purposes, and are made available to astronomers through ESO’s science archive.
 Unlike what their common name suggests, planetary nebulae have nothing to do with planets. The first astronomers to observe them merely described them as planet-like in appearance. They are instead formed when ancient stars with up to 6 times the mass of our Sun reach the end of their lives, collapse, and blow off expanding shells of gas, rich in heavy elements. Intense ultraviolet radiation energises and lights up these moving shells, causing them to shine brightly for thousands of years until they ultimately disperse slowly through space, making planetary nebulae relatively short-lived phenomena on astronomical timescales.
ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It has 16 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile and with Australia as a Strategic Partner. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope and its world-leading Very Large Telescope Interferometer as well as two survey telescopes, VISTA working in the infrared and the visible-light VLT Survey Telescope. Also at Paranal ESO will host and operate the Cherenkov Telescope Array South, the world’s largest and most sensitive gamma-ray observatory. ESO is also a major partner in two facilities on Chajnantor, APEX and ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, the ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.
Immune Protein IL-17A Responsible for Lethal Side Effects of Gastric Cancer
The formation of scar tissue, or fibrosis, as gastric cancer disseminates throughout the peritoneum can be more lethal than the cancer itself and can interfere with chemotherapy. Researchers from Kanazawa University have now found that proinflammatory cytokine IL-17A from mast cells heavily influences the degree of fibrosis and causes structural changes in peritoneal cells. Preventing mast cells from releasing IL-17A may therefore be a promising treatment strategy for gastric cancer patients with peritoneal dissemination.
Gastric cancer, one of the leading causes of cancer-associated mortality worldwide, is renowned for its ability to disseminate throughout the peritoneal cavity. As well as causing secondary tumors in other organs, metastatic gastric cancer cells trigger extensive stromal fibrosis, or the formation of scar tissue, that can be more deadly than the cancer itself—bowel obstruction and hydronephrosis and jaundice are all common side effects of gastric cancer-associated fibrosis. What’s more, the densely packed scar tissue can disturb chemotherapy drugs from reaching their target due to intra-tumoral high pressure.
Preventing fibrosis could therefore improve the prognosis for gastric cancer patients. The problem is, researchers have yet to discover what causes fibrosis, let alone how to prevent it.
But in a study published recently in Gastric Cancer, researchers from Kanazawa University found that an inflammatory protein produced by mast cells, IL-17A, triggers cellular changes in the peritoneum, leading to stromal fibrosis in gastric cancer patients.
Lead author Katsuya Gunjigake from Kanazawa University’s Division of Cancer Medicine explains why the researchers targeted IL-17A.
“Over-stimulation of the immune system by IL-17A plays a major role in chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. It has also been associated with increased tumor growth and dissemination in various forms of cancer. Interestingly though, while studies had shown that IL-17A causes fibrosis in both Crohn’s disease and lung disease, no one had investigated the link between tissue fibrosis and IL-17A in cancer.”
By studying cancerous tissue from 70 gastric cancer patients with peritoneal dissemination, the researchers discovered that the degree of fibrosis was governed by the amount of IL-17A, and that IL-17A was being produced by a subgroup of white blood cells called mast cells.
Says Gunjigake, “Mast cells are most commonly associated with anaphylaxis but are also involved in pathogen defense and immune tolerance, among other things. They contain small particles called granules that are filled with molecules such as histamine, serotonin, and IL-17A that are released into the extracellular environment in a process known as degranulation.”
The researchers then injected mice with human peritoneal cells and gastric cancer cells and examined the effects of IL-17A treatment, with interesting results.
“Not only did IL-17A increase tumor size and the degree of fibrosis, it also changed the structure of the peritoneal cells, enhancing their invasive and migratory capabilities,” explains responsible author Sachio Fushida.
“Given the obvious role of IL-17A in driving fibrosis, our results suggest that suppression of mast cell degranulation may be a promising treatment strategy for gastric cancer patients with peritoneal dissemination.”
Interleukin-17A derived from mast cells contributes to fibrosis in gastric cancer with peritoneal dissemination
Journal: Gastric Cancer
Authors: Katsuya Gunjigake, Jun Kinoshita, Takahisa Yamaguchi, Hiroto Saito, Daisuke Fujimori, Toshihide Horiike, Shinichi Harada, Hidehiro Tajima, Itasu Ninomiya, Tetsuo Ohta, Sachio Fushida
This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 16K10494.
Source: Kanazawa University
Opera for Android, Desktop Browsers Get Redesigned Sync Capabilities
Opera has launched updated versions of its browsers for Android and desktop. Opera for Android version 60 and Opera for Desktop version 71 come with completely redesigned sync capabilities between them, the company says. The new feature uses a QR code scan to establish a connection between Opera on an Android device and the Opera desktop browser on Windows, macOS, or Linux. The Opera browser for Android also comes with the popular Flow feature as well as Suggested Sites feature on the homepage. In meanwhile, the Opera desktop browser now comes with the Easy Files feature.
Opera for Android 60
With Opera browser for Android, users can navigate to opera.com/connect on their PCs or tablets and scan the QR code displayed there with the QR code reader located in the search bar of the browser. As soon as this is done, the new Sync feature will start synchronising all their passwords, bookmarks, speed dials, typed browsing history and open tabs, as well as the newly-integrated Flow feature across devices.
Stefan Stjernelund, Product Manager of Opera for Android, says that people don’t sync their phones with their PCs “because they hate the hassle of having to type in their logins and lengthy passwords.” He notes that the QR code scan feature can help users to quickly sync data across devices that do not require any login credentials. “Opera was the first browser to offer sync between mobile and desktop browsers 13 years ago. Today we’re taking a big step forward by making it easier than ever,” added Stjernelund.
Apart from the new syncing feature, Opera for Android 60 also gets the Flow feature from the Opera Touch browser. This feature allows users to share files, links, YouTube videos, photos, and personal notes with themselves, between their Opera mobile and desktop browsers. So, if you’re searching something on Opera on your Android smartphones, you can quickly share it on the desktop version. According to the brand, Flow is end-to-end encrypted so anything stored will only be known to the user. In Opera for Android, Flow can be accessed from the O-menu.
Opera for Android 60 now also comes with Suggested Sites feature that allows for “speed dials” in the browser. According to the brand, the speed dial section is now smarter and more dynamic as it identifies the user’s most frequently visited websites. It displays them just below the traditional speed dial section. “Suggested Sites gives us a quicker way to engage with relevant content without the need to manually add pages to the speed dial or bookmarks,” Stjernelund noted. Users have a choice to easily disable this feature.
Additionally, Opera for Android offers a built-in free unlimited browser VPN, a QR code scanner, a crypto wallet, and a cookie dialog blocker. You can download Opera for Android 60 via Google Play.
Opera for Desktop 71
The Opera for Desktop version 71 browser comes with the Easy Files feature that offers most recently downloaded files that essentially makes attaching files in the Opera browser easy. It is also claimed to feature a high level of privacy and security. It features a built-in browser VPN, ad blocker, as well as built-in messengers, including WhatsApp, Telegram, Instagram and Facebook.
How are we staying sane during this Coronavirus lockdown? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
The best hidden features in iOS 14
Apple’s iOS 14 is full of new features, but some of the best gems are the ones in obscure places. Learn about the best hidden features in iOS 14 and how to use them on your iPhone and iPad.
When Apple’s iOS 14 was released last week, many users and developers were surprised by the next-day availability. iOS 14 includes big changes that will forever change the way we use our iOS devices: From the widgets on the Home Screen, to the App Library, to the new automations in Shortcuts, iOS is clearly moving at a fast pace and bringing many new headlining features. Read about the best iOS 14 hidden features that many users skip over.
SEE: Apple iPadOS: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Listen for sounds
One accessibility feature that Apple added to iOS 14 was the ability for your iPhone to listen for particular sounds and then alert you whenever it encounters them. This feature is fantastic for hard of hearing or deaf users who need assistance in identifying when the door bell rings, an animal makes a noise, etc.
To enable this feature, perform the following steps:
- Open the Settings app.
- Navigate to Accessibility | Sound Recognition.
- Select the toggle to ON.
- Select Sounds.
- Toggle on the sounds that you’d like your device to recognize and alert you to (Figure A).
As of iOS 14, your phone can do on-device sound recognition of four different categories of sounds: Alarms, Animals, Household, and People. This set of sounds will grow over time based on advances in machine learning and device microphones. You can enable or disable the particular individual sounds you’re concerned with.
Apple notes that, with this feature enabled, your iPhone will continuously listen for sounds using on-device intelligence and notify you when the sounds are recognized. Because of this your battery life may take a slight hit, and this will also utilize on-device storage to process the sounds.
In addition, Apple notes that this shouldn’t be relied upon for emergency situations or navigation.
SEE: How to use widgets on the Home Screen in iOS 14 (TechRepublic)
New color picker
There’s a new color picker that you will encounter in both Apple and third-party apps that brings about a new way on iOS to select colors that we’re excited about. If you’ve spent any time in macOS, you’ve undoubtedly encounter the macOS Digital Color Meter that’s available systemwide. Apple now has a new color picker on iOS 14 that brings a few new ways of selecting colors, and saving them.
We’ll show how to do this in Notes, but the feature is also available in other apps. In Notes, select the drawing tool, then select the color picker icon. When you do this, the new color picker will appear (Figure B).
The first section you’ll encounter is a standard color grid which shows a few hues to let you quickly pick a color. The next tab is the Spectrum, which lets you get more fine-grained control over every color available to pick on the device and it’s opacity. The last tab is Sliders, which we’re very excited about. This view lets you pick or enter RGB values, or a hex value to set the color—a feature that hasn’t been available on iOS except in speciality apps before.
SEE: iOS 14 App Library: How to use it on your iPhone (TechRepublic)
Lastly, you’ll notice the custom palette organizer at the bottom of the color picker. In this section, you can save your favorite colors by tapping the + button, or tap and hold on any of them to delete them. You can save up to 10 colors in this section for easily switching between apps, or projects.
Hide the Hidden Photos album
The Hidden photo album has been available in the Photos app for years, but it has been far from hidden on iOS devices. Rather, it was a folder called Hidden that just stored photos you didn’t want visible in your main Photo library. Now you can also hide this folder so that the hidden photos are truly hidden.
To do this, perform these steps:
- Open Settings.
- Navigate to Photos.
- Scroll near the bottom, and disable the toggle for Hidden Album.
With this option deselected, the Hidden album will no longer appear in the Albums tab of Photos. To show it again, re-enable the toggle.
On iPadOS 14, there’s a new way to assign a keyboard shortcut for text dictation. This lets you easily still use dictation even when an external keyboard is attached without the need to use the on-screen controls for dictation.
To enable this feature, perform these steps:
- Open Settings.
- Navigate to General | Keyboard | Dictation Shortcut.
- Select an available Shortcut (Figure C).
The available shortcuts are either Control or Command. Select one or the other, then activate by quickly double-pressing the selected shortcut when your cursor is in a text field.￼
Hide Home Screens
Apple introduced the App Library for iPhone, and it allows a lot of customization and cleanup for iOS Home Screens for the first time in the history of the iPhone. You can still have multiple Home Screens in iOS 14, but sometimes you may want to disable messy Home Screens or Home Screens of apps that you don’t access frequently.
To disable a Home Screen on your iPhone:
- Tap and hold on the Home Screen to enter jiggle mode.
- Tap the dots denoting page numbers.
- Tap the checkmark under the Home Screen to remove it, tap again to add it back (Figure D).
Select Done when finished and your changes will be saved. Any hidden pages will be skipped over when swiping left or right between Home Screens.
Back tap gesture
If you have an iPhone 8 or newer, then we saved the best feature for last in this tip lineup. That’s because the back tap feature is one of those hidden gems that will change your digital life once you’ve implemented it.
With this feature, you can assign a double- or triple-tap gesture to the back of your iPhone. When you tap the back of the device with your finger twice or three times, it can perform an action that you assign. Yes, you read that right, you can perform an action by just tapping the back of your iPhone with your finger, and it even works with a case.
To set up this feature:
- Open Settings.
- Navigate to Accessibility | Touch | Back Tap.
- Select Double Tap or Triple Tap to set up actions for one or both.
- Select an action (Figure E).
There are many system, accessibility, scroll, and even app shortcuts available–you can even create your own Shortcut workflows and assign them to a double- or triple-tap gesture. The possibilities are limitless when it comes to assigning actions for this feature.
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