A record seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a single star have been detected.
The astronomers say that all seven exoplanets could potentially support liquid water on the surface, depending on the other properties of those planets.
However, only three are within the conventional “habitable” zone where life is considered a possibility.
The compact system of exoplanets orbits Trappist-1, a low-mass, cool star located 40 light-years away from Earth.
The planets, detected using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and several ground-based observatories, are described in the journal Nature.
Lead author Michaël Gillon, from Belgium’s University of Liège, said: “The planets are all close to each other and very close to the star, which is very reminiscent of the moons around Jupiter.
“Still, the star is so small and cold that the seven planets are temperate, which means that they could have some liquid water – and maybe life, by extension – on the surface.”
Co-author Amaury Triaud, from the University of Cambridge, UK, said the team had introduced the “temperate” definition to broaden perceptions about habitability.
Image source NASA
Three of the Trappist-1 planets fall within the traditional habitable zone definition, where surface temperatures could support the presence of liquid water – given sufficient atmospheric pressure.
However, Dr. Amaury Triaud said that if the planet furthest from the parent star, Trappist-1h, had an atmosphere that efficiently trapped heat – a bit more like Venus’s atmosphere than Earth’s – it might be habitable.
The six inner planets have orbital periods that are organized in a “near-resonant chain”. This means that in the time that it takes for the innermost planet to make eight orbits, the second, third and fourth planets revolve five, three and two times around the star, respectively.
This appears to be an outcome of interactions early in the evolution of the planetary system.
The astronomers say it should be possible to study the planets’ atmospheric properties with telescopes.
However, the astrophysicist also warns that we must remain extremely careful about inferring biological activity from afar.
Some of the properties of cool, low mass stars could make life a more challenging prospect. For example, some are known to emit large amounts of radiation in the form of flares, which has the potential to sterilize the surfaces of nearby planets.
In addition, the habitable zone is located closer to the star so that planets receive the heating necessary for liquid water to persist. But this causes a phenomenon called tidal locking, so that planets always show the same face to their star.
This might have the effect of making one side of the planet hot, and the other cold.
Dr. Amaury Triaud said UV light might be vital for producing the chemical compounds that can later be assembled into biological systems. Similarly, if life emerges on the permanent night side of a tidally locked planet, it might be sheltered from any flares.
However, he said the Trappist-1 star was not particularly active, something it has in common with other “ultra cool dwarfs” the team has surveyed.
“It is fair to say there is much we don’t know. Where I am hopeful is that we will know if flares are important, we will know if tidal locking is relevant to habitability and maybe to the emergence of biology,” he explained.
“Many of the arguments in favor or disfavor of habitability can be flipped in that way. First and foremost we need observations.”
In addition to the Spitzer observations, astronomers gathered data using Very Large Telescope in Chile, the Liverpool Telescope in La Palma, Spain, and others.
India has successfully launched a record number of 104 satellites on a single mission, overtaking the previous record of 37 satellites launched by Russia in 2014.
All but three of the satellites are from foreign countries, most of them from the United States.
The launch took place from the Sriharikota space center in east India.
According to observers, it is a sign that India is emerging as a major player in the multi-billion dollar space market.
Image source India Today
Project director B Jayakumar was quoted as saying by Reuters: “This is a great moment for each and every one of us. Today we have created history.”
Indian PM Narendra Modi was among the first to congratulate the scientists tweeting: “This remarkable feat by @isro is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation. India salutes our scientists.”
The phrase “world record” has also been trending on Twitter India on February 15.
Of the 104 small satellites, 96 belong to the US while Israel, Kazakhstan, the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland and the Netherlands are the other foreign clients.
A majority of the satellites have earth-imaging capability and belong to American company Planet.
An Indian cartographic satellite, believed to be capable of taking high resolution images is also on board. It is expected to be used to monitor regional arch rivals Pakistan and China.
India has increased the 2017 budget for its space program and also announced plans to send a mission to Venus.
Over the past two decades, India has become a key player in the lucrative commercial space market offering a low-cost alternative.
Pablo Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (Women of Algiers) has become the most expensive painting to sell at auction after fetching $160 million at Christie’s in New York on May 11.
Eleven minutes of prolonged bidding from telephone buyers preceded the final sale – for much more than its pre-sale estimate of $140 million.
Once the bidding reached $120 million, the Picasso was pursued by five clients on telephones, often in agonizingly slow, $1 million increments, before finally being sold to a buyer represented by Brett Gorvy, Christie’s international head of contemporary art.
The final price was $179.3 million including commission of just over 12%.
The previous all-time auction high, also at Christie’s, had been the $142.4 million paid by Elaine Wynn, co-founder of the Wynn casino empire, for Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud in November 2013.
Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’) is the most opulent and imposing of a series of paintings that Pablo Picasso produced from 1954 to 1955 in response to Eugène Delacroix’s 1834 Orientalist masterpiece, Women of Algiers. It had last been on the market in November 1997, when it sold for $31.9 million at a Christie’s auction of works owned by the American collectors, Victor and Sally Ganz. It was bought at that auction by a Saudi collector and kept in a house in London, said two dealers with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be named because of concerns over confidentiality.
The sale also featured Alberto Giacometti’s life-size sculpture Pointing Man, which set its own record.
The Swiss-born sculptor is renowned for his hauntingly emaciated figures made in postwar Paris when Europe was in the grip of Existentialist angst. He became one of the art market’s ultimate trophy names in February 2010 after the billionaire Lily Safra paid $103.4 million for the 1961 bronze, Walking Man I, at a Sotheby’s auction in London.
Pointing Man is now the most expensive sculpture sold at auction, after going for $141.3 million. Both buyers chose to remain anonymous.
Tiens Group has treated more than half of its 12,000 employees to a four-day holiday in Paris and Nice.
The huge Chinese company booked up 140 hotels in Paris as part of the package, a French foreign ministry spokeswoman said on May 7.
The trip by the 6,400-strong group included a mass visit to the Louvre museum, Le Parisien reported.
The members of one of the biggest Chinese groups ever to come to Europe arranged themselves on the Promenade des Anglais in the southern resort town of Nice to spell out the phrase “Tiens’ dream is Nice in the Cote d’Azur”.
Guinness World Records inspectors duly declared that the visitors had created the longest human-made phrase visible from the sky. The mass trip to France, and the stunt in Nice, were organized to mark 20 years of the Tiens Group.
Tiens Group chairman Li Jinyuan, 57, met France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius on May 6.
He booked 4,760 rooms in 79 four-and five-star hotels in Cannes and Monaco. The tourists also required 146 buses to drive them around. Nice was estimated to be €20 million ($22 million) better off for the visit.
According to the Tiens website, Li Jinyuan founded the group in 1995 and has expanded it into an international conglomerate with businesses in biotechnology, health management, ecommerce, hotel and tourism, among others.
Li Jinyuan is listed on the Forbes 2011 list of the world’s billionaires.
American Troy Bradley and Russian Leonid Tiukhtyaev have surpassed the world distance record for a flight in a helium balloon after crossing the Pacific Ocean.
The two pilots also hope to set a new duration record.
Troy Bradley and Leonid Tiukhtyaev left Japan in their “Two Eagles” balloon on January 25 and had aimed to land in Canada or the US.
However, weather has forced them to change course towards Mexico where they are due to land sometime on January 31.
Their hi-tech balloon is fitted with monitors and other instruments that track their course and compile data to be submitted to record-keepers.
The specially-designed capsule sits beneath a huge helium-filled envelope and is designed to stay aloft for up to 10 days.
To set new distance and durations records the team needed to beat the existing records by 1%.
Photo Tami Bradley
For distance that meant a journey of about 5,260 miles to beat the existing record of 5,208 miles set in 1981.
On January 29, the Two Eagles team tweeted: “The pilots have just surpassed the distance needed to set a new record. 5,261 miles or 8,467km.”
“We’re not taking any time to celebrate,” said head of mission control Steve Shope.
“We have a lot of work we have to do, and we’re just taking this flight one hour at a time.”
On its website, the team says Two Eagles will not have “broken the record” until documentation is approved by the US National Aeronautic Association followed by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale – a process that could take several weeks or months.
The existing duration record they hope to beat was set in 1978 when three pilots made the first trans-Atlantic balloon flight, spending 137 hours, 5 minutes and 50 seconds in a gas balloon.
To set a new record, the Two Eagles team must stay aloft for about 138 hours and 45 minutes.
At the moment, it is not clear exactly where the Two Eagles balloon will land.
The team had been aiming for Canada but a ride of high-pressure ridge off the US West Coast forced the balloon into a sweeping right turn toward Mexico.
A network of balloon enthusiasts has been organized to act as chase crews, but correspondents says it remains unclear if the balloon will be able to land in a place where a ground crew can help them.
A rare 1932 cover drawing of a Tintin comic book has fetched a record 1.3 million Euros ($1.6 million) at auction in Paris.
The Tintin in America cover, hand-drawn by Belgian writer and illustrator Herge, broke the record – set by the same item in 2008, when it sold for 764,000 euros.
It shows the young adventurer Tintin, dressed as a cowboy and sitting with his dog, Snowy, as axe-wielding American Indians creep up on them.
It was bought by a private collector.
The Indian ink and gouache drawing work is one of only five remaining such works by Herge – real name Georges Remi – who died in 1983. Only two of those are in private hands.
A rare 1932 cover drawing of a Tintin comic book has fetched a record 1.3 million Euros ($1.6 million) at auction in Paris
The buyer is anonymous but he was represented at the auction by a friend identified only as Didier.
“If he’d have been able to get it for less I think he would have been happy,” Didier said after the sale, according to news agency Reuters.
“The aim was not to beat a record; the aim was to obtain the work, before anything else… You don’t come here to beat the world record, to spend money, that doesn’t make any sense.”
Saturday’s sale was part of a rare larger sale of Tintin memorabilia, reportedly including draft sketches of Tintin and a copy of Explorers on the Moon, signed by the first men to walk on the Moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, and fellow astronaut Michael Collins.
Tom Schaar, a 12-year-old boy from Malibu, California, crushed the dreams of famous and amateur skateboarders this week when he set a world record to become the first person to land a three-rotation 1080 move.
Tom Schaar, a six-grader, pulled off the maneuver consisting of three full rotations that has been unsuccessfully attempted by the sport’s best for years.
The boy who is less than 5 ft tall completed the difficult trick at the Woodward West action sports camp in Tehachapi, California.
Tom Schaar told ESPN.com: “It was the hardest trick I’ve ever done, but it was easier than I thought.”
The boy completed the move after trying five times.
Tom Schaar, 12, set a world record to become the first person to land a three-rotation 1080 move
Tom Schaar has skated throughout his short life.
He has completed a number of stunts with his skateboard, including a 720 maneuver.
But the 1080 move spun Tom Schaar into the record books – and dashed the hopes of well-known skaters who were pegged as being the first to be able to land the tough stunt.
Shaun White, defending X Games Skate Vert champion, was believed to become the first to achieve the move.
He won his first Winter Olympic snowboard gold medal in 2006.
There was also another youngster, 14-year-old Mitchie Brusco, who was viewed as the sure bet to do a 1080 when he tried it in Pennsylvania.
But instead the 80-lb Tom Schaar destroyed those possibilities.
Bob Burnquist, the 35-year-old defending X Games Big Air gold medalist, told ESPN that he hopes to learn from Tom Schaar in the future.
Bob Burnquist said: “Tom’s a little giant and a spinning machine.”
The world’s longest bridal train was unveiled in Bucharest, Romania, this week.
To show off the two-mile gown, 17-year-old Romanian model Emma Dumitrescu took a ride in a hot air balloon as part of a promotion in the capital city of Bucharest, with the dress’ 1.85-mile-long train flowing dramatically under her.
The 2,823.8-meter long ivory train, which took 100 days to stitch, was showcased dramatically on the boulevard leading up to the giant palace built by late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, seen in background.
The gown, certified as the longest bridal train in history by the Guinness World Records, was designed by a local designer, Andree Salon fashion house.
The world’s longest bridal train was unveiled in Bucharest, Romania
The dress more than doubled a previous Romanian record of under a mile (1,492 meters) from April 2009 and broke the December 2009 record of 2,488 meters, which was held by a designer from the Netherlands.
The record was tinged with the taste of a sweet political victory for Romania, since the Netherlands campaigned against that country’s inclusion in the European Union’s Schengen zone, according to The Associated Press.
“If the Netherlands does not allow us into Europe, we’ll take them out of the world records book,” said Alin Caraman, an organizer of the wedding promotion.
The stats of this wedding-day wonder are impressive: It took 15,420 feet of taffeta, 18.04 feet of Chantilly lace, 147.64 feet of lining, 1,857 sewing needles and 150 spool threads to create the dress and train. Ten workers toiled for 100 days to complete the project.
The wedding dress cost is close to $8,000 in materials alone, the AP reported.
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