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NASA’s Kepler finds 1,284 new planets

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CAPE CANAVERAL — NASA has announced that the discovery of 1,284 new planets outside our solar system, more than doubling the number of known exoplanets found with the Kepler space telescope.

“This gives us hope that somewhere out there, around a star much like ours, we can eventually discover another Earth,” said Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington.

The unmanned Kepler space observatory, which launched in 2009, has been scanning 150,000 stars for signs of orbiting bodies, particularly those that might be able to support life.

It works by observing a dimming in the light of a star, known as a transit, each time an orbiting planet passes in front of it.

“Of the nearly 5,000 total planet candidates found to date, more than 3,200 now have been verified, and 2,325 of these were discovered by Kepler,” NASA said in a statement.

Of the new trove, nearly 550 could be rocky planets like Earth, based on their size, the US space agency said.

“Nine of these orbits in their sun’s habitable zone, which is the distance from a star where orbiting planets can have surface temperatures that allow liquid water to pool.”

The addition of these nine means that 21 exoplanets are now known to be possibly circling their stars in the habitable zone, and may harbor life.

However, Kepler is a “statistical mission”, NASA scientists said, and is not designed to probe further into the conditions of certain planets that exist in the so-called “Goldilocks zone” of their stars — neither too hot nor too cold to sustain life.

That means even the most advanced space telescopes now being built, including the James Webb Space Telescope, may not be able to shed much more light on the nature of life on another of these exoplanets, if life does exist.

“Before the Kepler space telescope launched, we did not know whether exoplanets were rare or common in the galaxy,” said Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director at NASA headquarters.

“Thanks to Kepler and the research community, we now know there could be more planets than stars.

“This knowledge informs the future missions that are needed to take us ever closer to finding out whether we are alone in the universe.”

The latest trove of planets was confirmed by a new statistical method, instead of the time-consuming one-by-one process that was used previously.

This statistical analysis method can be applied to many planet candidates simultaneously, according to Timothy Morton, associate research scholar at Princeton University, and lead author of a paper describing the findings in The Astrophysical Journal.

Kepler survived an emergency last month, when some kind of “transient event… triggered a barrage of false alarms that eventually overwhelmed the system”, NASA said.

AFP

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Bouddha registers nine rape cases in four months

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KATHMANDU— A total of nine cases of rape were registered in four months at Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Circle Bouddha.
The rape cases were registered from mid-July to mid-November 2018.

Deputy Superintendent of Police at Metropolitan Police Circle Bouddha, Narendra Chand shared that the police registered cases against 15 people on the charge of their involvement in rape cases.

An eight-year-old girl to a 67-year-old woman, among others, have filed cases against rape.

Police had arrested and filed case against seven persons on the charge of raping a 12-year girl in a room on the premises of Cricket Ground in Mulpani on November 7.

However, an accused is still at large. The arrested are Bikhasu Tharu, 28, Naresh Kushma, 21, Rajkumar Tharu, 22, Rabin Itani, 21, Rajesh Tharu, 16, Hari Kumal, 19, and Dilliram Tharu, 34.

Likewise, police had arrested Rakesh Shrestha, 40, of Kathmandu Gokarneswor Municipality-6 for raping 8 and 9 years girls on July 26.

According to the data provided by Bouddha police, Hari Timilsina, 49, of Shankharapur Municipality was arrested for raping a 15-year girl and a case was filed against him.

Similarly, a case was registered against Dal Bahadur Shahi, 47, of Shankharapur Municipality on charge of raping a 63-year-old woman.

35-year old Shanbhu Giri of Silugadhi of India was held for raping an 11-year old girl from Kavre.

Among other arrested on the rape charge are Dawa Tamang, 24 of Solukhumbu Dudhkunda Municiplaity-6, Rajan Mandal, 22, of Biratnagar, Madan Pariyar, 39, of Jhapa Gauradaha and Kabi Shrestha, 31, of Dolakha Bhimeswor Municiplaity-8.

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