Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

IRAS 16547-4247, a binary star system. Photo: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Tanaka et al.

A pair of newborn stars are enveloped in water vapor and sodium chloride — otherwise known as table salt — according to new data from the ALMA telescope in Chile.

Why it matters: Scientists are always looking to piece together new details of how star systems form, and the detection of salt in this binary star system could help researchers figure out how baby stars grow.

The state of play: The binary system, called IRAS 16547-4247, is about 9,500 light-years from Earth, and the stars' combined mass is about 25 times the Sun's.

  • This marks the second time scientists have seen table salt in the soup around huge young stars.
  • "The first example was around Orion KL Source I, but that is such a peculiar source that we were not sure whether salt is suitable to see gas disks around massive stars. Our results confirmed that salt is actually a good marker," Kei Tanaka, who led the team that found the table salt signal, said in a statement.

The big picture: The pair of stars, which appear to orbit in two different directions, may have actually formed separately and then met up later in life.

  • Most huge stars that scientists have seen in the universe have companions, so learning more about the specifics of how these types of systems form could inform their understanding of the origins of these stars.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to study these systems with water vapor and table salt to possibly learn more about how our solar system — which is also rich in water vapor and sodium chloride — formed in its early days.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jul 7, 2020 - Science

The race to find Planet X heats up

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Teams of scientists are vying to be the first to spot a large, hypothetical planet that might be lurking in the outer reaches of our solar system.

Why it matters: Astronomers have found thousands of planets orbiting other stars, but the hunt for this possible planet orbiting our own Sun — called Planet X or Planet 9 by some — is showing just how little we know about our solar system.

40 mins ago - World

Putin foe Navalny to be detained for 30 days after returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.

Biden picks Warren allies to lead SEC, CFPB

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has selected FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Obama-era Wall Street regulator Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Why it matters: Both picks are progressive allies of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and viewed as likely to take aggressive steps to regulate big business.