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Phuket Media Watch – Earth-size planets found outside the Milky Way

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Phuket Media Watch – Earth-size planets found outside the Milky Way | The Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Scientists discover first Earth-size planets outside the Milky Way
Phuket Gazette

U.S. scientists have spotted the first Earth-size planets which are orbiting a sun-like star outside our solar system, NASA announced on Tuesday. The planets are unlikely to support life.

NASA said its Kepler mission, which was launched in March 2009 and was named after German astronomer Johannes Kepler who lived in the 17th century, has discovered the first planets, identified as Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, which are similar in size to Earth and orbiting a sun-like star. But they are too close to their star to be in the so-called habitable zone where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface.

The newly discovered planets, which NASA considers to be an important milestone in the ultimate search for planets like Earth, are thought to be rocky.

Kepler-20e is slightly smaller than Venus, measuring 0.87 times the radius of Earth, while Kepler-20f is slightly larger than Earth, measuring 1.03 times its radius. Both planets reside in a five-planet system called Kepler-20, approximately 1,000 light-years away in the constellation Lyra.

Kepler-20e’s and Kepler-20f’s orbital periods, which are every 6.1 days and every 19.6 days respectively, mean very hot, inhospitable worlds. Kepler-20f, at 800 degrees Fahrenheit (426 degrees Celsius), is similar to an average day on the planet Mercury. The surface temperature of Kepler-20e, at more than 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit (760 degrees Celsius), would melt glass.

“The primary goal of the Kepler mission is to find Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone,” said Francois Fressin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “This discovery demonstrates for the first time that Earth-size planets exist around other stars, and that we are able to detect them.”

The Kepler-20 system includes three other planets that are larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. Kepler-20b, the closest planet, Kepler-20c, the third planet, and Kepler-20d, the fifth planet, orbit their star every 3.7, 10.9 and 77.6 days. All five planets have orbits lying roughly within Mercury’s orbit in our solar system. The host star belongs to the same G-type class as our sun, although it is slightly smaller and cooler.

Scientists are not certain how the system evolved but they do not think the planets formed in their existing locations. They theorize the planets formed farther from their star and then migrated inward, likely through interactions with the disk of material from which they originated. This allowed the worlds to maintain their regular spacing despite alternating sizes.

On December 5, the Kepler science team announced the discovery of Kepler-22b in the habitable zone of its parent star. It is likely to be too large to have a rocky surface. While Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f are Earth-size, they are too close to their parent star to have liquid water on the surface.

“In the cosmic game of hide and seek, finding planets with just the right size and just the right temperature seems only a matter of time,” said Natalie Batalha, Kepler deputy science team lead and professor of astronomy and physics at San Jose State University. “We are on the edge of our seats knowing that Kepler’s most anticipated discoveries are still to come.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors



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North East

Elderly mother of murdered Thai woman is seeking help to bring her daughter’s body home

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Elderly mother of murdered Thai woman is seeking help to bring her daughter’s body home | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Matichononline

The family of a Thai woman murdered in northern Portugal in March is now calling for assistance with the cost of repatriating the body back to Thailand.

According to Portuguese media the woman, Natchaya Saranyaphat, was murdered on March 7 by another Thai woman. Natchaya’s head was found on the Leca da Palmeira beach, 300 kilometres north of Lisbon on the Atlantic coast.

The dead woman’s 76 year old mother from the north-eastern Surin province says that Natchaya was the youngest of her five children. She says her daughter had been working in Portugal and been sending back up to 6,000 per month. Another Thai woman, Sangam Sawaiprkhon, has since been arrested in Portugal as a suspect in the murder of Natchaya, allegedly over a disagreement about 358,000 baht. They had jointly invested in a massage shop in Portugal.

The woman’s elderly mother says she needs help from the provincial or Thai government as her family is very poor and unable to pay for the retune of her daughter’s body for burial.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson says they had received a report from the Royal Thai embassy in Lisbon and local police about the murder and the arrest of the Thai suspect in Portugal.

Elderly mother of murdered Thai woman is seeking help to bring her daughter's body home | News by The Thaiger

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Southeast Asia

LATEST: Sri Lanka bombings

The Thaiger

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LATEST: Sri Lanka bombings | The Thaiger

A wave of explosions rocked Sri Lanka up-scale hotels and churches on Easter Sunday around the capital Colombo. This is what we know…

• At least 215 people have been confirmed dead with up to 450 more injured in a series of bombings targeting churches holding Easter services and hotels in Sri Lanka. The toll is likely to rise during today or at least become more precise as officials tally information from emergency responders.

• Most of the dead are said to be Sri Lankans, but officials say up to 40 foreigners have lost their lives.

• Three UK nationals and two US-UK dual nationals were among the dead. One Dutch, one Chinese, one Portuguese and two Turkish nationals have been killed, their respective foreign ministries have confirmed.

• There were six initial blasts, at three hotels and three churches, before two more explosions some time later, at a guest house and housing scheme, with two people reported to have been killed at the former. A government minister says the last two blasts appeared to have been carried out by the culprits as they fled from police.

• No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks but Sri Lanka’s defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene claims the culprits have been identified and were religious extremists. He said suicide bombers were responsible for the majority of the morning’s bombings and that the wave of attacks was the work of a single group.

• Eight people are reported to have been arrested so far.

• The Sri Lankan government has issued a curfew and shut down social media and messaging services to prevent the spread of disinformation.

• Sri Lanka’s PM, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has condemned the “cowardly” attacks and urged people to remain “united and strong”.

• The archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, called it “a very sad day” and is urging the government to identify the attackers and “punish them mercilessly because only animals can behave like that”.

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Southeast Asia

Mitsubishi testing their new regional jet

The Thaiger

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Mitsubishi testing their new regional jet | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Japan Times

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ new 88-passenger Mitsubishi Regional Jet is testing the skies just as rivals Embraer and Bombardier are moving to sell off their manufacturing operations for jets with up to 160 seats to Boeing and Airbus.

At stake, particularly in the market for jets with fewer seats, is US$135 billion in sales in the two decades through 2037, according to industry group Japan Aircraft Development.

More cities in Asia and Europe are seeking to link up with each other and the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, the first airliner built in Japan since the 1960s, began certification flights last month in Moses Lake, Washington.

With fewer seats and smaller fuselages, regional jets are a different class of aircraft from larger narrow-body planes such as Boeing’s 737 or Airbus’s A320. The MRJ has a range of about 3,220 kilometres. The seating is 2+2 instead of 3+3 in a small Airbus or Boeing single-aisle jet.

After spending at least US$2 billion over more than a decade, the manufacturer is looking to get its jet certified and start deliveries to launch partner ANA Holdings.

Mitsubishi initially planned test flights in 2012 but blew past that deadline because of production difficulties. Now, the company, which makes ships, nuclear power plants and aerospace components, expects to have the plane ready for customers next year, a timetable that will test the company, said Mitsubishi Aircraft president Hisakazu Mizutani.

Mitsubishi Heavy is not the only Asian manufacturer betting that it can build aircraft cheaper and more efficiently. Commercial Aircraft of China (Comac) has a new regional jet in service, while Korea Aerospace Industries is studying whether to develop a 100-passenger aircraft.

“The aviation market in Asia is expected to grow further in the coming years and there will be demand for these aircraft,” said analyst Lee Dong-heon at Daishin Securities in Seoul.

“The shift in the regional aviation segment we have seen over the last year or so has opened opportunities.”

“The MRJ is fully capable of competing in the market.”

Mitsubishi testing their new regional jet | News by The Thaiger

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