Stunning super macro Images of new coronavirus just released

On Thursday (Feb. 13), the Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases revealed some of the first images of COVID-19.

Super close up images of the new coronavirus
This scanning electron microscope image shows COVID-19 (yellow) among human cells (pink). This virus was isolated from a patient in the U.S. (Color has been added to the image to better show the virus and its environment.) (Image: © NIAID-RML)

Researchers at RML imaged samples of the virus and cells taken from a U.S. patient infected with COVID-19 using two different kinds of high-resolution microscopes — the scanning electron microscope and the transmission electron microscope.

Super close up images of the new coronavirus 4
This image from a scanning electron microscope shows, in orange, the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19. The virus was isolated from a patient in the U.S.and is seen here emerging from the surface of cells — in gray — cultured in the lab. NIAID-RML

Both use a focused beam of electrons rather than a beam of light to image samples. (The color is added later to the images.)

Super close up images of the new coronavirus 2
This scanning electron microscope image shows the newcoronavirus (yellow) among human cells (blue, pink and purple). (Color has been added to the image to better show the virus and its environment.) (Image credit: NIAID-RML)

The COVID-19 virus looks similar to the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which emerged in 2012, and the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), which emerged in 2002, according to a statement.

That’s because all three of these viruses are in the same family of “coronaviruses,” which are named for their crown-like appearance (most apparent in the transmission electron image). The word “corona” in Latin means “crown.”

Super close up images of the new coronavirus 3
This is a transmission electron microscope image showing the new coronavirus emerging from the surface of human cells. (Image credit: NIAID-RML)

Related article: Viruses: discovery, size, structure and how they infect people

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