Science and Technolgy Current Affairs - 2019

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Three Earth-like planets discovered orbiting dwarf star

An international team of scientists have discovered a trio of Earth-like exoplanets using the TRAPPIST telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory.

These planets were found orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star just 40 light-years from Earth and are likely comparable in size and temperature to Earth and Venus.

Key facts

  • Scientists have named the ultra-cool dwarf star 2MASS J23062928-0502285 (also known as TRAPPIST-1). It is located in the constellation of Aquarius (The Water Carrier).
  • TRAPPIST-1 is about one eighth the size of the Sun (barely larger than Jupiter) and significantly cooler.
  • The three planets were found to orbit very close to their host dwarf star. Two of the exoplanets have orbital periods of about 2.4 days and 1.5 days respectively. The third planet has a less well-determined orbital period in the range 4.5 to 73 days.
  • The inner two planets only receive four times and twice the amount of radiation received by the Earth respectively.
  • The third outer planet probably receives less radiation that of the Earth receives but its orbit is not yet well known and maybe lying within the habitable zone.

Exoplanet: It is a planet that does not orbit the Sun and instead orbits a different star, stellar remnant, or brown dwarf. It is also termed as extrasolar planet.

US Senate passes Cyber Security Legislation

US Senate has passed Cyber Security Legislation to facilitating sharing of cyber-attack threats. It was passed by 74 votes in favour of it and 21 votes against it.

The passage of legislation is being considered a critical step to address cyber threats and ensure tools are in place in to deter future cyber-attacks.

Key facts

  • The bill reconciles with the earlier-passed House Cyber Security Bill.
  • Seeks to help in preventing future cyber-attacks by facilitating a common awareness in the cyber realm.
  • Encourages private companies to voluntarily share information related to cyber threat with the government and one another.
  • Provides private companies immunity for sharing the information from lawsuits by consumers and shareholders.

Background

  • United States Government was under pressure to act in the wake of recent high-profile cyber-attacks against multiples private companies including Sony Pictures and others.
  • The passage of legislation comes just after US Congress had voted to rein in the powers of the National Security Agency (NSA) following revelations of vast surveillance programmes in leaked documents by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.