NASA discovers planet orbiting a young star 31.9 light-years away
NASA has discovered a planet as large as Neptune orbiting a young, nearby star known as AU Microscopii that may serve as a one-of-a-kind laboratory for studying how planets evolve and interact with stars.
AU Microscopii is so young that it is surrounded by a disc of debris left over from its formation. It is estimated to be about 20 million to 30 million years old, making it a stellar infant compared to our Sun, which is more than 150 times older.
For over a decade since the star was discovered, scientists have been looking for a planet around it, in the hope that this would help them better understand planetary evolution.
The discovery was made using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and the Spitzer Space Telescope, which has now been decommissioned. More on Express.
Second deadliest Ebola outbreak in history declared over
The World Health Organization has declared the end of the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The DRC has been fighting Ebola since August 2018. It has now been more than 42 days, or two incubation periods, since the last survivor in the eastern DRC Ebola outbreak tested negative for the virus. The outbreak was the country’s 19th Ebola outbreak and the second-deadliest in history.
However, surveillance of the disease will continue for at least six more months as cases due to a new introduction of the virus from the animal reservoir can occur. More on the New York Times.
Lost continental underwater landmass of Zealandia mapped in unprecedented detail
New maps of Zealandia, a massive landmass that many scientists argue fulfils the criteria to be called Earth’s eighth continent, reveals details never seen before.
Zealandia is a 5 million sq km landmass east of Australia, beneath modern-day New Zealand, 95 per cent of which is submerged thousands of feet beneath the Pacific Ocean. It was first discovered in the 1990s.
Widely called the lost continent, Zealandia has been poorly studied until now, but a suite of new maps and interactive tools now captures the underwater land in exciting detail. More on New Atlas.
Penguins in Antarctica seem to thrive as sea ice melts
Scientists have found that Adélie penguins in Antarctica appear to be thriving even as the continent’s sea ice melts due to global heating.
As climate models project rapid reduction in the sea ice extent in Antarctica over the rest of the century, the ecosystems of the continent are expected to take a hit. However, Adélie penguins seem to be unexpected winners of the consequences of climate change. Polar biologists have found that these penguins tend to see population increases during years of sparse sea ice and suffer massive breeding failures during years with the greatest growth of sea ice.
This is because, instead of having to walk long distances over ice, these penguins can travel by swimming. For penguins, swimming is four times faster than walking, and this makes hunting for food much easier. More on The Guardian.
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