A black hole in Earth's backyard?

This new black hole is 1.600 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus So far scientists have discovered 20 black holes in the Milky Way. About 100 million more are estimated to be present in our galaxy.

A new black hole has been discovered very near to Earth, closer than any other previously found. Christened Gaia BH1, this dormant blackhole is 1.600 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus.

This new black hole is ten times as massive as our sun. To date, scientists have found 20 black holes in the Milky Way galaxy whilst 100 million more are estimated to be present in our galaxy. The newly discovered one is three times closer than the earlier black hole which sat about 3,000 light-years away in the constellation Monoceros.

Since there are more undetected black holes, even this newly discovered one wouldn't hold its spot of "closest to Earth" for too long.

The discovery was mentioned in a paper in the peer-reviewed Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The black hole was discovered by "Kareem El-Badry, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and his colleagues.

They found evidence of the existence of this dormant black hole using the data from the European Space Agency's GAIA (Global Astrometric Interferometer for Astrophysics) spacecraft. After they noticed a star in the constellation Ophiuchus moving in unexpected ways, they understood that it was a result of the gravity of an unknown, massive object. Using the observation from other telescopes, they confirmed that the object causing this was a black hole.

What is a Black Hole

A black hole is a celestial body that has an immensely huge gravitational pull, so huge that nothing escapes it. Not even light can escape i it!

The black hole grows by accumulating matter that falls in it. Black holes are formed at the end of the life of a big star. When a massive star collapses after its nuclear fuel depletes, it will collapse onto itself and become a black hole.

 It was in 2019 that an image of a black hole was captured for the first time. It was an international collaboration and the astronomers used the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), networking eight ground-based radio telescopes.

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Can reforestation alone save the Earth?

Trees are huge carbon sinks. They saok up the carbon. Planting trees will help mitigate the climate change and cool the planet to some extent. But that has to be combined with a dedicated effort to reduce carbon emission. Reforestation combined with the reduction of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide (CO2), is the need of the hour. It is these gases that warm the earth, leading to climate change which we have been witnessing in many forms such as the melting of ice sheets, rising of sea levels, wildfires, floods, droughts and other natural calamities. So the carbon emissions need to be reduced by nations, on an industrial scale as well as individual level.

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Wodehouse: The master of comedy

With a comical plot, ludicrous scenarios, and eccentric characters. Wodehouse scripted a world around the social atmosphere of the late Edwardian era, poking fun at the English upper class Let's take a look at the writer whose birth anniversary falls this month.

It is like an escape into a land of comedy. Nothing wrong could happen to you here. English writer P.G. Wodehouse's literary world is all about entertainment. Pick any of his books and you are assured of a good laugh riot.

It is easy to get lost in the whimsical world of the upper-class English, and delight in the often absurd and funny scenarios that take on a wacky, idiosyncratic turn as the plot progresses. His is a comic tradition that continues to remain unsurpassed, taking you on a humorous journey.

One of the greatest 20th-century writers of humour, Wodehouse created a new realm of comedy through his books. With a highly evolving, comical plot, ludicrous scenarios, and eccentric characters, Wodehouse scripted a world around the social atmosphere of the late Edwardian era, poking fun at the English upper class.

Early years

Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was born on October 15, 1881 in Guildford, Surrey, England. Educated in Dulwich College,

London, Wodehouse took up a bank job. His career started at the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank.

But he soon quit it and turned his attention to writing. He became a freelance journalist and short story writer. He later became a humour columnist at the London Globe (1902). He also wrote for many other publications. In the same year, he published his first novel "The Pothunters."

When Wodehouse was made a prisoner

During the war, in 1940, he was captured in France by German forces. He was in a German internment camp for a year where he kept writing.

Whilst being a prisoner, he agreed to be part of a series of talks on German radio. Little did he know that he was playing right into the Nazi propaganda machine.

The broadcasts were a humorous take on his experiences as a prisoner in which he also made fun of his captors. But these broadcasts didn't go down well with the politicians and journalists in Britain.

There were accusations of treason. Later, he went back to America and continued his writing journey. He never returned to his homeland. He received a knighthood in 1975,

The comical riot

It all started with Something Fresh (1915), his comic debut. There he introduced the Emsworth family. It is the first instalment of the Blandings Castle series. The eccentric Lord Emsworth and his prize-winning pig the Empress of Blandings, along with a legion of relatives and impostors take you on a comical riot in the Blandings Castle series.

Among the other characters he created, the most loved are the duo Bertie Wooster and Jeeves. They first made their debut in the story Extricating Young Gussie (1915). Jeeves, the inimitable "gentleman's gentleman" of the young bachelor Bertie, is perhaps the valet everyone would love to have at home. He saves the day always and gets Bertie out of every bizarre situation he puts himself in.

Musical journey

It was not just fiction Wodehouse was a master at. He wrote scripts and song lyrics for composers. A novelist, short-story writer, lyricist, and playwright. Wodehouse donned many caps. He wrote more than 90 books, over 20 film scripts and also collaborated on plays and musical comedies. He is often regarded as one of the pioneers of the American musical.

‘Sunset at Blandings’ was his last and unfinished novel. Wodehouse died at the age of 93 on February 14, 1975, in Southampton, N.Y.

Wodehouse loved dogs

In Pekes, hounds and mutts I have known, an article he wrote as an introduction to 'Son of Bitch', a book of photographs by Elliott Erwitt, Wodehouse talks about the many dogs he has had the company of. The first dog he had, Sammy, a French bulldog, was given to him by his colleague. The article ends with his musings about dogs and humour. Here is a peek into how entertaining Wodehouse can be: 'My own opinion is that some have and some don't. Dachshunds have, but not St Bernards and Great Danes. Apparently a dog has to be small to be fond of a joke. You never find an Irish wolfhound trying to be a stand-up comic.'

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What are dwarf galaxies?

As their name suggests, dwarf galaxies are smaller galaxies. In contrast to a normal galaxy that comprises hundreds of billions of stars, a dwarf galaxy would contain just about a few billion stars. These dwarf galaxies orbit larger galaxies after their formation.

Formation of dwarf galaxies

The dwarf galaxies are created when two galaxies collide, fromed from the material and dark matter coming out of the galaxies that collided.

Following these collisions, while a significant portion of the gas, dust and stars emitted gets reincorporated into the galaxy created after the collision, some can lead to the formation of dwarf galaxies which then orbit around the galaxy. They are also formed by the gravitational forces existing during the creation of these larger galaxies.

Why are dwarf galaxies crucial

Scientists consider the dwarf galaxies critical as they could help gain insight into the early stages of the formation of galaxies and stars. According to scientists, our galaxy has about 14 satellite dwarf galaxies orbiting it.

Studies are being carried out on these dwarf galaxies as it would give us clues regarding the evolution of the galaxies. By studying the motion of the stars in these galaxies, we would also get to know more about dark matter and how it is distributed in the galaxies.

It is difficult to spot dwarf galaxies as they are less bright when compared to larger galaxies. A large number of them can be spotted in galaxy clusters or as a companion to larger galaxies.

Shapes of dwarf galaxies

The dwarf galaxies take several shapes. The dwarf elliptical galaxies are quite similar to normal elliptical galaxies.

Then there are dwarf spheroidal galaxies which are more spherical in shape and smaller when compared to the former.

Then we have the irregular dwarf galaxies. They do not have a distinct structure and are rich in gas.

One of the closest dwarf galaxies to the Milky Way is the Sagittarius Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy.

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Is a missing moon responsible for Saturn's rings and tilt?

Now known to host at least 83 moons, researchers propose that Saturn at one point must have had at least one more satellite, which they call Chrysalis

While all four gas giants - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune - have rings, Saturn is the most popular ringed-planet. Swirling around Saturn's equator, these rings indicate clearly that the planet is spinning at a tilt relative to the plane in which it orbits the sun.

For a long time, astronomers have suspected that this tilt is the result of Saturn's interactions with neighbouring Neptune. A new modelling study by astronomers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). however, suggests that while the two planets may have been in sync before, Saturn has since escaped Neptune's pull.

Call it Chrysalis

 In a study appearing in Science in September, the MIT team

posits that a missing moon might be responsible for this planetary realignment. Now known to host at least 83 moons, Saturn at one point must have had at least one more satellite that the researchers call Chrysalis.

The team estimates that after orbiting Saturn for several billion years, Chrysalis became unstable about 160 million years ago, coming too close to Saturn in the process. As the proposed satellite was long dormant before suddenly becoming active - just like a butterfly's chrysalis - the researchers gave it the name Chrysalis.

The resulting encounter pulled the satellite apart and the loss of the moon was enough for Saturn to escape

Neptune's grasp and leave it with its current tilt. Additionally, the researchers suggest that while most of Chrysalis' shattered body may have impacted Saturn, a fraction of its fragments could have remained suspended in orbit. These could then have broken into small icy chunks to form the planet's standout rings.

Explains two mysteries

The missing moon hypothesis, the researchers believe, could thus explain two mysteries pertaining to Saturn's system. While one of these is Saturn's present-day tilt, the other one is the age of its rings.

The rings are estimated to be about 100 million years old. very much younger than the planet itself. If the rings were indeed formed from fragments of Chrysalis, then the story fits perfectly.

Cassini's inputs

The team of researchers arrived at this hypothesis by modelling the interior of Saturn. They identified a distribution of mass that matched the gravitational field that was observed by the Cassini spacecraft in its final phases. What they found indicated that Saturn is no longer in sync with Neptune, paving the way for researching various hypotheses, before arriving at their final result. The lead author of the study says that it is "a pretty good story, but like any other result, it will have to be examined by others".

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