Finding Another Earth

A newly discovered exoplanet, Kepler-452b, comes the closest of any found so far to matching our Earth-sun system. This artist’ conception of a planetary lineup shows habzone planets with similarities to Earth: from Kepler-22b, Kepler-69c, the just announced Kepler-452b, Kepler-62f and Kepler-186f. L line is Earth itself.
Credits: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech
Of the 1,030 confirmed planets from Kepler, a dozen are less than twice the size of Earth and reside in the habitable zone of their host stars. In this diagram, the sizes of the exoplanets are represented by the size of each sphere. These are arranged by size from left to right, and by the type of star they orbit, from the M stars that are significantly cooler and smaller than the sun, to the K stars that are somewhat cooler and smaller than the sun, to the G stars that include the sun. The sizes of the planets are enlarged by 25 times compared to the stars. The Earth is shown for reference.
Credits: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech
The discovery of a super-Earth-sized planet orbiting a sun-like star brings us closer than ever to finding a twin of our own watery world. But NASA’s Kepler space telescope has captured evidence of other potentially habitable planets amid the sea of stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
To take a brief tour of the more prominent contenders, it helps to zero in on the “habitable zone” around their stars. This is the band of congenial temperatures for planetary orbits -- not too close and not too far. Too close and the planet is fried (we’re looking at you, Venus). Too far and it’s in deep freeze. But settle comfortably into the habitable zone, and your planet could have liquid water on its surface -- just right. Goldilocks has never been more relevant. Scientists have, in fact, taken to calling this water-friendly region the “Goldilocks zone.”
The zone can be a wide band or a narrow one, and nearer the star or farther, depending on the star’s size and energy output. For small, red-dwarf stars, habitable zone planets might gather close, like marshmallow-roasting campers around the fire. For gigantic, hot stars, the band must retreat to a safer distance.
About a dozen habitable zone planets in the Earth-size ballpark have been discovered so far -- that is, 10 to 15 planets between one-half and twice the diameter of Earth, depending on how the habitable zone is defined and allowing for uncertainties about some of the planetary sizes.
The new discovery, Kepler-452b, fires the planet hunter’s imagination because it is the most similar to the Earth-sun system found yet: a planet at the right temperature within the habitable zone, and only about one-and-a-half times the diameter of Earth, circling a star very much like our own sun. The planet also has a good chance of being rocky, like Earth, its discoverers say.
Kepler-452b is more similar to Earth than any system previously discovered. And the timing is especially fitting: 2015 marks the 20 anniversary of the first exoplanet confirmed to be in orbit around a typical star.
But several other exoplanet discoveries came nearly as close in their similarity to Earth.
Before this, the planet Kepler-186f held the “most similar” distinction (they get the common moniker, “Kepler,” because they were discovered with the Kepler space telescope). About 500 light-years from Earth, Kepler-186f is no more than 10 percent larger than Earth, and sails through its star’s habitable zone, making its surface potentially watery.
But its 130-day orbit carries it around a red-dwarf star that is much cooler than our sun and only half its size. Thus, the planet is really more like an “Earth cousin,” says Thomas Barclay of the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, a co-author of the paper announcing the discovery in April 2014.
Kepler-186f gets about one-third the energy from its star that Earth gets from our sun. And that puts it just at the outside edge of the habitable zone. Scientists say that if you were standing on the planet at noon, the light would look about as bright as it does on Earth an hour before sunset.
That doesn’t mean the planet is bereft of life, although it doesn’t mean life exists there, either.
Before Kepler-186f, Kepler-62f was the exoplanet known to be most similar to Earth. Like the new discovery, Kepler-62f is a “super Earth,” about 40 percent larger than our home planet. But, like Kepler-186f, its 267-day orbit also carries it around a star that is cooler and smaller than the sun, some 1,200 light-years away in the constellation Lyra. Still, Kepler-62f does reside in the habitable zone.
Kepler-62f’s discovery was announced in April 2013, about the same time as Kepler-69c, another super Earth -- though one that is 70 percent larger than our home planet. That’s the bad news; astronomers are uncertain about the planet’s composition, or just when a “super Earth” becomes so large that it diminishes the chance of finding life on its surface. That also moves it farther than its competitors from the realm of a potential Earth twin. The good news is that Kepler-69c lies in its sun’s habitable zone, with a 242-day orbit reminiscent of our charbroiled sister planet, Venus. Its star is also similar to ours in size with about 80 percent of the sun’s luminosity. Its planetary system is about 2,700 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus.
Kepler-22b also was hailed in its day as the most like Earth. It was the first of the Kepler planets to be found within the habitable zone, and it orbits a star much like our sun. But Kepler-22b is a sumo wrestler among super Earths, about 2.4 times Earth’s size. And no one knows if it is rocky, gaseous or liquid. The planet was detected almost immediately after Kepler began making observations in 2009, and was confirmed in 2011. This planet, which could have a cloudy atmosphere, is 600 light-years away, with a 290-day orbit not unlike Earth’s.
Not all the planets jostling to be most like Earth were discovered using Kepler. A super Earth known as Gliese 667Cc also came to light in 2011, discovered by astronomers combing through data from the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6-meter telescope in Chile. The planet, only 22 light-years away, has a mass at least 4.5 times that of Earth. It orbits a red dwarf in the habitable zone, though closely enough -- with a mere 28-day orbit -- to make the planet subject to intense flares that could erupt periodically from the star’s surface. Still, its sun is smaller and cooler than ours, and Gliese 667Cc’s orbital distance means it probably receives around 90 percent of the energy we get from the sun. That’s a point in favor of life, if the planet’s atmosphere is something like ours. The planet’s true size and density remain unknown, however, which means it could still turn out to be a gas planet, hostile to life as we know it. And powerful magnetic fluxes also could mean periodic drop-offs in the amount of energy reaching the planet, by as much as 40 percent. These drop-offs could last for months, according to scientists at the University of Oslo’s Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics in Norway.
Deduct two points.
Too big, too uncertain, or circling the wrong kind of star: Shuffle through the catalog of habitable zone planets, and the closest we can come to Earth -- at least so far -- appears to be the new kid on the interstellar block, Kepler-452b.
NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.Blogspot

Our VP injures his reputation!

IT is a well known fact that Vice President, VP,  Yemi Osinbajo,a Professor of Law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, forwarded the name of the Acting chairman of the EFCC Mr. Ibrahim Magu to the Senate for confirmation when he acted for the President during his first 10-day leave to London. It is therefore natural that he would want his nomination to sail through.
In his letter read on the floor of the Senate on 14th July,2016 Prof. Osinbajo quoted copiously from the EFCC Act to support his nomination.He wrote as follows in one of the paragraphs,
“Apart from other ex-officio members of the Commission provided for in section 2, The Act also provides for four eminent Nigerians with any cognate experience of the following that is finance, banking, law and accounting. Section 2 (3) further provides that chairman and members of his Commission other than ex-officio members shall be appointed by the president and the appointment shall be subject to confirmation of the Senate.”
Sundry allegations
As the VP letter was going to the Senate,the Directorate of State Security, DSS,also forwarded its own letter to the Senate in which it claimed that Magu is ethically challenged and would not be suitable to head the anti-graft body. After sundry allegations against Magu the secret police concluded:“In the light of the foregoing, Magu has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption drive of the present administration.”
It was on the basis of the letter that Ibrahim Magu was rejected by the Senate after which the President constituted a committee of the Vice-President and the Attorney General of the Federation. Their findings were not made public. But a much more damning report was forwarded to the AGF by the DSS.
The presidency however  presented Magu to the Senate  saying it was satisfied with his response to his indictment but in what appeared a clear vote-of -no-confidence  on it,the DSS wrote to the Senate on the eve of his second appearance insisting on its early report on the nominee.The Senate rejected him for the second time based on the security.The woeful performance of Magu during his second appearance  during which he could not say the total amount of loot  the agency has recovered became secondary in the consideration.
The rejection of Magu by the Senate for the second time required that he quit as Acting Chairman of the EFCC and for the president to nominate another person. But impunity Nigerians has seen him carrying on with his vuvuzelas huffing and puffing all over the place.They included very senior lawyers who should have guided the administration.
We do not have the best Senate in the land today but Magu supporters refused to interrogate why the DSS that reports to the presidency would mount roadblock against its appointee without consequence and their mouths would be full of foam against the Senate and not the source of Magu’s problem.
Consultancy is not a crime in the land and the misconduct of these fellows can be excused. But the same cannot be said of the Vice-President who is the most advanced legal mind in the presidency and a Pastor in addition who few days ago joined those confusing the people on a very clear issue .
The VP who was quoting copiously the EFCC Act when he forwarded Magu’s name to the Senate suddenly became a typical Nigerian politician who changes the goal post after a goal has been scored when he said :
“I agree with Mr. Falana that there was no need in the first place to have sent Magu’s name to the Senate, but we did so and it was rejected by the Senate, but I believe that it can be re-presented. I don’t think there is anything wrong about the fact that Senate has rejected him. “Senate has acted in its own wisdom to say ‘no, we don’t want him’, and we can say ‘this is our candidate… we like the gentleman and we want him to continue.”
The position of Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) that the politician in our VP was agreeing with was the nebulous interpretation of section 171 of the 1999 constitution which says:
“(1) Power to appoint persons to hold or act in the offices to which this section applies and to remove persons so appointed from any such office shall vest in the President.
(2) The offices to which this section applies are, namely ¬
(a) Secretary to the Government of the Federation;
(b) Head of the Civil Service of the Federation;
(c)Ambassador, High Commissioner or other Principal Representative of Nigeria abroad;
(d) Permanent Secretary in any Ministry or Head of any Extra-Ministerial Department of the Government of the Federation howsoever designated; and
(e) any office on the personal staff of the President.”
It is not difficult for even non-lawyers to see that an agency like EFCC set up by an Act of Parliament does not fall under this provision of the constitution.The following parastatals are listed under the Ministry of Justice  for which the President can appoint Acting Heads and EFCC is clearly not among :
The Nigerian Law School
National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons and Other Related Matters, NAPTIP, Nigerian Law Reform Commission, Nigerian Copyright Commission, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Regional Centre For International Commercial Arbitration Legal Aid Council.
This very disingenuous attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the Nigerian public will definitely haunt Mr VP for the rest of his life.Another one bites the dust!
Re: Emir Sanusi and gullible Republic of Nigeria
THERE is one unique thing about Nigeria that marvels the entire world. It is some sort of uniqueness that has metamorphosed over the years into different shades and forms. It is multi-faceted and most often, challenges the reality of our ego better way of life. It is in that uniqueness that millions of people toil day and night to make ends meet; only for them to be rewarded by striking institutions and decaying infrastructure.
They still wave aside all disappointments and manage to get decent sleep in the midst of thundering generator noise (and darkness in some homes). It is still surprising that the Guinness Book of Records hasn’t named Nigeria as the country with the highest number of electrical engineers. Everyone knows how to change over from generator to electricity and sometimes, this can happen up to fifteen times a day.
For a male to get a haircut in Nigeria, means that he has to ask if the barber has fuel and a functional generator. We have come to accept, imbibe and endure the smell of premium motor spirit; a Nigerian needs no professional to detect adulterated fuel. In that strange uniqueness, the potholes on the roads have no more space in our consciousness. We would simply hope that there would be no harsh rain, cruel enough to wipe off the little tar that is left. It is a uniqueness that has enabled State Governments to become monarchies, headed by ‘elected’ governors and their family members. The Chief of Staff could be the brother to the governor and the rest of the cabinet will be his cousins and friends. A society that has chosen a constant romance with mediocrity, yet her leaders wish to be addressed as ‘your excellency’.
Not quite long ago, Governor Adulaziz Yari of Zamfara State announced that the outbreak of Meningitis was an act of God.
According to him, God is punishing Nigerians for adultery. It would have not been possible for him to make that utterance if there was a close aide that thought any differently. There would have been an objection to that opinion, there would have been a NO in the midst of all the sycophantic YES’ that our leaders crave so much. Only a conglomeration of friends and relatives with the same exact ideas and outlook on life, could have given a nod to such an assertion…with a combination of gross ignorance of course. Perhaps to him and…them, Ebola might have been a punishment meted out to Liberia, simply because her citizens are blacks.
In some sort of unique paradoxes, the former CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido would marry a 17 year old girl but still come out to lend his voice to girl child education, Former President Olusegun Obasanjo would call himself a Statesman after almost destroying what is left of our democracy with his third term agenda and successive governors of Abia State would neglect the pressing need to make that state livable yet the pictures they sponsor on TV adverts paint an Eldorado.
Nigerians have come to realise that they spend so many years getting educated, only to graduate into unemployment. Other countries look at us and wonder if the system prepares youths to fail, before ever they can make an attempt in life. In this unique present, the government’s drive for increased Internally Generated Revenue has made those at the top to forget that certain small scale businesses need tax holidays to survive. Instead, the decadent tradition of multiple taxation still continues in many states and yet the government expects Made In Nigeria goods to thrive.
If they cannot be provided with electricity to operate, why not grant them tax breaks for a limited time? That same uniqueness manifests brazenly in the ruling class. Despite the fact that the ruling elite in Nigeria are amongst the most learned in the world, they haven’t performed any better than their uniformed predecessors. Upon assuming office they become concerned with the little things that matter… like the need to include Arabic education in the curriculum of a secular country , the need to create grazing lands for a few men with cows; thereby disinheriting millions of others and the need to refurbish their offices and gain more allowances.
They will choose to stand aside and remain aloof now that these echoes of secession have become louder than ever, instead of tackling the issues head on; because they know that they still stand to gain whether things fall apart or not. In that all so queer uniqueness, millions of youths still storm out to support politicians who have done nothing for them. Politicians whose families are hidden in Europe and whose homes have become resting places for looted funds.
Not many ask whether they are for us or against us. In their campaign rallies, they would rather not explain how they will work things out; they would prefer to declare agendas…narrowing them into 7point or 8point and even the not so forgotten vision2020. Now that the year 2020 is upon us, many are yet to look beyond the deceptive cloak that is PDP and APC, to carefully examine the assembly of vultures that have come to tear out whatever good that Nigeria has a chance of ever achieving. If we were a forward-thinking nation, our leaders would have known that the only way to smite the head of the powerful establishment holding us down in this pre-arranged 13th century fiefdom, is to push religion away from our national life. If God would punish the sexually immoral with Meningitis, then what about politicians that brood over criminality?
We are past the age and time when our spiritual beliefs dictate our common sense; it remains weird that such weapon of ignorance is still used by the ruling class till today.


Pyongyang tells Washington its nuclear weapons are 'not an illusion' following US threats.
North Korea has warned its army is on "maximum alert" after the US vice president visited the heavily militarised border between the two Koreas and reiterated Washington's position that "all options are on the table" in dealing with Pyongyang.
Sin Hong-chol, North Korea's deputy foreign minister, told Al Jazeera in an exclusive interview on Monday that Donald Trump's administration "should look at the world with open eyes".
North Korea showcases new missiles at military parade
"The time of dictating orders by brandishing the US military might has gone. If those businessmen in power in the US thought of intimidating us by any military or sanction threats - as the [Barack] Obama administration used to do and failed - they will soon find out such threats are useless," Sin said.
"If we notice any sign of assault on our sovereignty, our army will launch merciless military strikes against the US aggressors, wherever they may exist, from the remote US lands to the American military bases on the Korean peninsula, such as those of Japan and elsewhere."
Sin also said the six-nation talks aiming to make the Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons were "throttled at birth".
"The nuclear weapon in our possession is not illusion; it is not a commodity that may be traded for American dollars - nor is it for sale. So it cannot be put on the negotiating table with the aim to rip it off," he said.
Tensions between Pyongyang and Washington have soared in recent weeks, as a series of North Korean missile tests have wrought ever-more bellicose warnings from Donald Trump's administration.
On Monday, US Vice President Mike Pence - visiting the world's most heavily militarised border that divides the two Koreas - hinted military options against the North have not been ruled out.
"The people of North Korea, the military of North Korea should not mistake the resolve of the United States of America to stand with our allies," Pence said, adding "the era of strategic patience is over".
"All options are on the table as we continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of South Korea," he said from the village of Panmunjom, inside the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ).
Mike Pence warns North Korea 'era of strategic patience is over'
On Sunday, Pyongyang conducted its
latest missile test , which the US and South Korea said crashed in failure after only a few seconds upon launch.
The Trump administration has indicated it will not allow North Korea to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the western United States .
Pyongyang insists it needs a powerful arsenal - including atomic weapons - to protect itself from what it says is the ever-present threat of invasion by hostile US forces.
Speaking to Al Jazeera from Seoul, Korea specialist and author Donald Kirk noted the rhetoric between the rivals continues to escalate and a "violent confrontation" was a real possibility.
"Certainly the tension level is very high. Vice President Pence talked very tough today… He left open the possibility of a pre-emptive strike," said Kirk.
Tensions between Pyongyang and Washington go back to the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty. But the heat has been rising rapidly since Trump took office in January.
The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier has been diverted back to the waters off the Korean peninsula after heading for Australia , and US satellite imagery suggests the North could conduct another underground nuclear test at any time.

Newcastle stumble at Portman Road

Newcastle definitely don’t like Mondays. Goals from Freddie Sears, David McGoldrick and Emyr Huws for Ipswich consigned the Magpies to their 11th consecutive away league defeat on a Monday and left Rafa Bentitez’s side sweating on their promotion chances.
As is the norm these days Daryl Murphy did not celebrate when he netted the equaliser for Newcastle against his former club.
Ipswich players and fans certainly did rejoice on what was designated as Sir Bobby Robson Day.
The game started amidst a fabulous atmosphere generated by both sets of fans, in front of the highest crowd of the season at Portman Road, paying tribute to Sir Bobby, who managed both clubs.
Newcastle remain in an automatic promotion spot, but still have Huddersfield breathing down their necks, so this match was more about getting a result for now and their future prosperity than reminiscing, and they failed to do that.
For Ipswich, who Robson led to an FA Cup victory in 1978 and UEFA Cup final success three years later, this game was about ensuring survival in the Championship for a 15th successive season. Oh, how they have fallen since those glory days.

Fani-Kayode, Lare Olayinka react to Amaechi’s N1.250bn threat

PORT HARCOURT – Chief Femi Fani-Kayode and the aide to governor of Ekiti state, Mr Lere Olayinka has reacted to the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi’s threaten to sue them for post on their twitter accounts linking him with the $430 million found in a luxury home in Ikoyi lagos state.

The Minister through his counsel, Mr Lateef Fagbemi SAN said if they failed to make the retraction of the post on their twitter accounts within seven days they would meet in court.
He said the retraction should be made in about five national newspapers and their twitter pages.
He also said Olayinka should pay him 500 million naira while Kayode who was a former Minister of Transportation should part with 750 million naira.
The Minister said the money were compensation for the damages he had suffered from their various postings.
According to Amaechi he was not the owner of the luxury apartment and the money found in the place, adding that he also did not acquire an apartment in the place for a lady and does not own a house in Lagos state.
Amaechi who is also a former governor of Rivers state said the post painted him as an adulterous man whereas he is a happy family man, married to only one wife.
“In the spirit of a second chance we have our clients instruction to give you an ultimatum of 7 days from receipt of this letter to issue an apology in 5 national dailies and your twitter ha due . Your apology which should be heartfelt must be a total withdrawal of your claim and its imputation must also contain an expression of deep regret for this unwarranted attack and must also contain retraction of the false statement of yours.
We also demand from you as compensation for the malicious and defamatory claim. Please note that the demand will increase with time if you fail to retract the statement immediately. Failure to do any of these would be met with stiff legal actions which your defamatory act deserves .”,the counsel said.
No losing sleep over suit, says Fani-Kayode
Reacting, Fani-Kayode in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Jude Ndukwe, said: “We have been inundated with calls concerning about a threat by Rotimi Amaechi to sue Chief Fani-Kayode for defamation over the $43 million issue.
‘’We are not in any sleep over this matter. We have not received any court processes or letters from Amaechi but when we do so, our lawyers will respond vigorously and appropriately.’’
I’m not aware of any suit — Olayinka
Reacting to Amaechi’s suit, Special Assistant to Ekiti State Governor on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said he was not aware of any suit originating from Mr Amaechi.
Olayinka said: “I am not aware of any letter, I am not aware of any suit.”

Happy Family

  Aisha Buhari the wife of Nigerian president with her younger brother and her son are looking bright and beautiful.