NASA’s Kepler Discovers Nearly 100 New Exoplanets

NASA's Kepler Discovers Nearly 100 New Exoplanets

An international team of scientists have confirmed the discovery of nearly 100 new exoplanets — planets located outside our solar system.

The discovery was based on data from the second mission of NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope or K2 released in 2014.

K2 searches for exoplanet transits by registering dips in light caused by the shadow of an exoplanet as it crosses in front of its host star.

The researchers found that some of the signals were caused by multiple star systems or noise from the spacecraft.

But they also detected planets that range from sub-Earth-sized to the size of Jupiter and larger.

One of the planets detected was orbiting a very bright star.

“We validated a planet on a 10 day orbit around a star called HD 212657, which is now the brightest star found by K2 missions to host a validated planet,” said lead author Andrew Mayo, doctoral student at the National Space Institute (DTU Space) at the Technical University of Denmark.

For the study, appearing in the Astronomical Journal, the team started out analysing 275 candidates of which 149 were validated as real exoplanets.

In turn 95 of these planets have proved to be new discoveries, Mayo said.

The Kepler spacecraft was first launched in 2009 to hunt for exoplanets in a single patch of sky, but in 2013 a mechanical failure crippled the telescope.

However, astronomers and engineers devised a way to repurpose and save the space telescope by changing its field of view periodically. This solution paved the way for the follow up K2 mission.

Adding the newly discovered exoplanets brings the total number of exoplanets by K2 mission to almost 300, the study said.

The first planet orbiting a star similar to our own Sun was detected only in 1995. Today some 3,600 exoplanets have been found, ranging from rocky Earth-sized planets to large gas giants like Jupiter.


Apple, Epson Face French Legal Complaints Over Allegedly Shortening Life of Products

Apple, Epson Face French Legal Complaints Over Allegedly Shortening Life of Products


  • A French consumer association filed preliminary, legal complaints
  • Apple is already facing lawsuits in the US
  • Planned obsolescence is illegal in France

Smartphone maker Apple and Japanese printer company Epson are facing legal complaints in France over allegedly speeding up the ageing process of their products to stimulate demand.

A French consumer association called “HOP” – standing for “Stop Planned Obsolescence” – filed preliminary, legal complaints in court against the two groups over the charges.

HOP said it filed its complaint against Apple in Paris on Wednesday. A prosecutor opened an investigation into Epson last month, a judicial source said on Thursday, following a complaint filed in September by HOP in a court in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

Laetitia Vasseur, co-founder of HOP, told Reuters the aim of both complaints was to apply the French consumer law, which was modified in 2015 to include the notion of planned obsolescence.

Apple is already facing lawsuits in the United States over accusations of having defrauded iPhone users by slowing down devices without warning to compensate for poor battery performance.

These lawsuits came after Apple said last week that operating system updates released since “last year” for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone SE and iPhone 7 included a feature “to smooth out” power supply from batteries that are cold, old or low on charge.

Phones without the adjustment would shut down abruptly because of a precaution designed to prevent components from getting fried, Apple said.

Under French law, companies risk fines of up to 5 percent of their annual sales for deliberately shortening the life of their products to spur demand to replace them.

A spokeswoman for Epson France said Epson denied the charges made against it by the HOP association. She added that Epson was working with authorities on the matter and that the quality of its products was of the utmost importance for the company.

Officials for Apple France could not be immediately reached for comment.


Microsoft Edge Browser Goes Out of Preview; Now Available to Download for Android, iOS

Microsoft Edge Browser Goes Out of Preview; Now Available to Download for Android, iOS


  • The Edge browser app was available for Windows Insiders last month
  • It is now available to download via Google Play and the App Store
  • Microsoft has added a couple of new features since the preview

Microsoft has officially released its Edge browser for Android and iOS devices, a month after unveiling its beta version last month to receive feedback from the Windows Insider Preview community. Microsoft Edge browser for Android and iOS, now without its preview tag, can be downloaded from Google Play and the App Store.

The Edge browser app for Android and iOS is aimed at providing synced workflow for Windows 10 PCusers, with synced Favorites, Reading List, New Tab Page, Reading View, and Roaming Passwords available across the PC and phone, and the “continue on PC” feature allowing users to immediately open the page they are looking at on their PC, wit the ability to save it to work on later.

Microsoft has brought some new features to Edge that weren’t visible during the preview. These include the above mentioned Roaming Passwords – users can save a password on phone or PC, and access it on the other device – as well as Dark Theme.

Describing market and language availability, in a blog post, Joe Belfiore, Corporate Vice President, Windows and Devices at Microsoft, said, “Microsoft Edge for iOS is available in the United States (English), China (Simplified-Chinese), France (French) and the UK (English). Microsoft Edge for Android is available in the United States (English), Australia (English) Canada (English and French), China (Simplified-Chinese), France (French), India (English) and the UK (English). We look forward to bringing MS Edge for iOS and Android to additional markets and languages over time!”


Fears for world’s rarest penguin as population plummets

A yellow-Eyed penguin marches along a beach near Dunedin, New Zealand.

Almost half the breeding population of the world’s most endangered penguin species, the yellow-eyed penguin, has disappeared in one part of New Zealandand conservation groups believe commercial fishing is to blame.

The yellow-eyed penguin is endemic to New Zealand’s South Island and sub-Antarctic islands, where there are just 1,600 to 1,800 left in the wild, down from nearly 7,000 in 2000.

During a recent survey of the island sanctuary of Whenua Hou (Codfish Island), department of conservation staff made the alarming discovery that close to half the island’s breeding population of penguins had vanished. Elsewhere in New Zealand the bird’s population is at its lowest level in 27 years.

Forest & Bird’s chief executive Kevin Hague said because the island was predator-free the evidence pointed to the animals being caught and drowned in the nets of commercial fishing trawlers. Only 3% of commercial trawlers have independent observers on them to report bycatch deaths.

“Unlike previous years where disease and high temperatures caused deaths on land, this year birds have disappeared at sea,” said Hague.

“There is an active set net fishery within the penguins’ Whenua Hou foraging ground, and the indications are that nearly half the Whenua Hou hoiho population has been drowned in one or more of these nets.”

Last year 24 nests were recorded on Whenua Hou, but this year rangers only found 14. Penguin numbers are declining in other parts of the South Island as well, and researchers fear the beloved bird, which appears on the New Zealand $5 note, is heading ever closer to extinction.

Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust general manager Sue Murray said every effort was being made to save the birds by conservation groups, but the birds faced multi-pronged threats from disease to dogs and climate change.

A rare yellow-eyed penguin found dead in the net of a fishing trawler.
 A rare yellow-eyed penguin found dead in the net of a fishing trawler. Photograph: Ministry of Primary Industries, New Zealand

“The trust has huge concerns for the future of hoiho [yellow-eyed penguins] on Whenua Hou given their rapid decline. Our focus must be the marine environment where hoiho spend at least half of their life as it is unlikely that terrestrial impacts are a major factor in the decline here.”

The penguins – which are small and have yellow eyes – can be found from Banks Peninsula near Christchurch to as far south as the sub-Antarctic islands.

University of Otago’s Thomas Mattern, a penguin expert, told the Otago Daily Times he believed time was running out for the birds.

“Quite frankly, the yellow-eyed penguins, in my professional opinion, are on their way out,” Mattern said.