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Scientists discover super-Earth that could harbour life

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 London, April 20: An international team of astronomers has discovered a so-called “super-Earth” that could contain liquid water, a situation that would make it a very good candidate for harbouring life.

Super-Earth is a rocky, temperate planet orbiting a red dwarf star, Efe news agency reported.

In an article published on Wednesday in Nature magazine, the scientists say that the distant planet, dubbed LHS 1140b, is orbiting an M class red dwarf star a little smaller and dimmer than the Sun but the most common type of star in our galaxy.

The super-Earth and its parent star are located in the constellation Cetus, the Whale, 39 light years from the Sun, thus — relatively speaking — putting it in our galactic “neighbourhood,” according to Felipe Murgas, the coauthor of the study and a researcher with Spain’s Canary Islands Institute of Astrophysics.

The study’s main author, Jason Dittmann, with the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, said that this is the “most interesting” exoplanet that he’s seen in the last decade.

The new planet was discovered thanks to the MEarth-South telescope network devoted exclusively to seeking out exo-planets.

The MEarth-South instruments enabled scientists to measure the planet’s diameter and, using the HARPS spectrograph at the LaSilla ESO Observatory in Chile, they also were able to measure its mass, density and orbital period.

According to the measurements, LHS 1140b has a diameter 1.4 times that of Earth and a mass 6.6 times that of our own planet.

But more important than that are the climatological conditions, and its orbital distance from its star puts LHS 1140b in the “habitable zone” – thus meaning that the planet’s surface temperature allows water to exist in all three of its states: liquid, solid and as a gas.

Whether there is actually water on the planet or not depends on the composition of its atmosphere and other factors, including the presence of a magnetic field, such as the one Earth has, but the most important thing is for the planet to “fulfil the requirements to have water,” which means that it must be in its star’s habitable zone, Murgas said.

Regarding the age of the planet, the authors of the study said that it probably formed in a manner similar to Earth and its star is probably 5 billion years old, about the same age as the Sun, although the age of M-class stars is hard to determine for a variety of factors, the Spanish researcher added.

In the coming decades, LHS 1140b is sure to be investigated much more intensively, an ongoing project for the powerful next-generation telescopes, including the James Webb instrument and the E-ELT device, which will be installed in Chile and — within a few years — will be able to study the system and try to detect its atmosphere, along with other characteristics.

IANS

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Sukma: CRPF personnel killed in Naxal encounter

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Sukma, April 21: A Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel lost his life in an encounter with Naxals near Kistaram camp in insurgency-hit Sukma district of Chhattisgarh on late Friday.

The gunfight erupted when troops of 212 battalion of CRPF, 208 CoBRA, along with Chhattisgarh police were carrying out a cordon and search operation last night.

The deceased was a native of Madhya Pradesh.

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Raipur: 7-year-old sexually assaulted in school

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Chhattisgarh, April 21: In yet another case of crime against minors, a seven-year-old girl was allegedly sexually assaulted at Raipur School.

Speaking to ANI, Victim’s father said “It was her first day to the school on Wednesday. She went to the school and we wanted to meet her at the school, but we weren’t allowed to do so. While changing her clothes after she returned from school, my wife noticed blood on her private parts and she was not wearing undergarments.”

On being asked if she had reported about the incident to the teacher, the minor replied that the teacher was absent on the second day of her school.

Meanwhile, the police said that they were investigating the matter and were examining CCTV footages of the school. An FIR was lodged for the same.

The president of Child Right Commission, Prabha Dubey, said “I have spoken to the girl personally. She is saying that a ‘bhaiya’ had allegedly molested her. We asked the peon of the school about the undergarment, to which she replied that she had thrown away the undergarment since the girl had urinated on it. I will constitute a team to investigate the matter.”

In the wake of recent Unnao, Surat Kathua rape cases, Indian social media has been abuzz with the words – “rape horror”.

Massive countrywide protests are being held demanding death penalty for those accused of raping minors.

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Accused in fake facebook post on Manohar Parrikar’s health, gets bail

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Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar (File Photo)

Panaji, April 20: A city Judicial Magistrate First Class(JMFC) court on Friday granted bail to Kenneth Silveira, who was arrested by Crime Branch of Goa for posting fake information about Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s “death” on Facebook.

He was released on a personal bond of ₹10,000, reported The Hindu.

In a related development, members of civil society staged a protest outside the Goa Police headquarters here on Friday morning condemning the arrest.

Kenneth, 35, was arrested by the Crime Branch on Wednesday, a day after he put up the post on social media, on a complaint by a BJP office-bearer.

Parrikar is undergoing treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer in the US.

On Friday, a few dozen protesters rallied at the police headquarters and accused police of trying to “muzzle” free speech.

The Opposition has also criticised the police for the arrest of Silveira, who contested the 2017 by-poll in Panaji but lost to Parrikar.

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