Michelle Starr, ScienceAlert

Michelle Starr


Sydney, NSW, Australia

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Recent articles by Michelle:

The Historic Fungus That Gave The World Penicillin Had Its Genome Sequenced

In 1928, Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming made history. In a common mould - so common that the strain grew by accident in a petri dish of Staphylococcus - he discovered antimicrobial properties that he would exploit to develop the first mass-pr → Read More

For The First Time, an 'Ultra-Hot Neptune' Has Been Discovered Orbiting a Sun-Like Star

A new exoplanet discovery is the first of its kind, sitting in a strange 'gap' of exoplanets insanely close to their host stars. The planet is a Neptune-sized body that whips around its star once every 19 hours. → Read More

Astronomers Discover 'Pi Earth' Exoplanet Orbits Its Star Once Every 3.14 Days

Every exoplanet is special in its own way, but a newly discovered exoplanet 186 light-years away is an especially delicious treat. It's a smallish world around the same size as Earth, whipping around its star on an orbit that takes just 3.14 days. → Read More

Earth Is About to Capture a Minimoon, But There's Something Odd About This One

We all know and love our Moon. It's been Earth's constant companion for billions of years, a mainstay of the skies. But it's not our only companion. → Read More

Breathtaking Images Suggest There's Fresh Ice on One of Saturn's Moon

To human eyes, Saturn's moon Enceladus looks relatively plain. Shift the wavelength away from the optical, however, and Enceladus starts to look a lot more interesting, as new images amply demonstrate. → Read More

A Strange, Glowing Ultraviolet Aurora Has Just Been Detected Around a Comet

Aurora - the dancing glow of ionised particles in Earth's upper atmosphere - is not unique to our planet. → Read More

Glorious New Hubble Photo Showcases Jupiter's Stormy Side

Majestic Jupiter, our Solar System's belligerent big brother, is putting its best side forward*. A sharp new image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows the giant planet's wild, ever-evolving weather - revealing both short- and long-term changes. → Read More

We Now Know How Dying Stars Carve Out Mesmerising Mandalas of Stardust

The last gasps of dying stars are some of the most beautiful objects in the galaxy. → Read More

Myriad Exoplanets in Our Galaxy Could Be Made of Diamond And Rock

Here in the Solar System, we have quite an interesting variety of planets, but they are limited by the composition of our Sun. Since the planets, moons, asteroids and other bodies are made out of what was left over after the Sun was finished formin → Read More

Microbial Life on Venus? Here's What You Really Need to Know About The Major Discovery

Venus, the Evening Star, may gleam prettily in our night sky, but up close it's about as inhospitable as a rocky planet can be, with sulphuric acid rains, a suffocating CO2 atmosphere, and a surface atmospheric pressure up to 100 times greater than → Read More

Turns Out There's Another Ocean Creature That Scares The Hell Out of Great White Sharks

Just when you think orcas couldn't possible be any more awesome, they get even better. A study in 2019 showed these whales are really good at scaring off the most feared beast in the sea. Yep. Orcas have toppled the great white shark off their 'ape → Read More

Hubble Discovery Hints at a Serious Problem With Our Understanding of Dark Matter

It would be extremely optimistic to suggest that we have a good handle on dark matter. But even the slight grasp we do have may be missing something important. → Read More

We Might Finally Know How Jupiter's Weird Polar Storms Stay Together

Jupiter, thick with chaotic clouds and raging with wild winds, is famous and beloved for its gloriously stormy atmosphere. Ever since the Juno space probe arrived there in 2016, we've had unprecedented access that's been helping us understand what d → Read More

We May Finally Know The Origins of a Mysterious Stream Circling The Milky Way

Like Jörmungandr encircling Earth, so too is the entire galaxy ringed. A huge, high-velocity stream of gas is wrapped most of the way around the Milky Way, at a distance of around 200,000 light-years. → Read More

Archaeologists Just Sequenced Some of The Oldest Neanderthal DNA Found in Europe

For tens of thousands of years, a Neanderthal molar rested in a shallow grave on the floor of the Stajnia Cave in what is now Poland. For all that time, viable mitochondrial DNA remained locked inside - and now, finally, scientists are discovering → Read More

Space Could Be Littered With Eerie Transparent Stars Made Entirely of Bosons

Last year, the astronomical community achieved an absolute wonder. For the very first time, the world collectively laid eyes on an actual image of the shadow of a black hole. It was the culmination of years of work, a magnificent achievement in bot → Read More

Genetically Engineered Beefcake Mice Retain Their Muscle Mass in Space

Microgravity is pretty rough on us ground-dwellers - with bodies no longer constantly acting against gravity, muscle mass and bone density withers away. Even with two hours of exercise daily, it can take months for astronauts to recover their muscl → Read More

Across 10 Million Stars, Not a Single Whisper of Alien Technology

In a comprehensive search of a patch of the Southern sky, not even a hint of alien technology has been detected at low radio frequencies. → Read More

Egyptian Authorities Have Discovered 13 Completely Sealed 2,500-Year-Old Coffins

An unusual cache of at least 13 wooden coffins dating back to 2,500 years ago has been discovered in the desert necropolis of Saqqara in Egypt. → Read More

Scientists Clone an Endangered Przewalski's Horse For The First Time, And It's So Cute

A little baby horse named Kurt is a symbol of renewed hope for the survival of his kind. Born on 6 August 2020, he is the world's first ever successfully cloned Przewalski's horse, an endangered wild horse native to the steppes of central Asia. → Read More