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Supernova behind brightest gamma-ray burst of all time in 2022: Study

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New Delhi, April 12 (IANS) The brightest gamma-ray burst (GRB) ever recorded by scientists, in October 2022, was the result of a collapse and subsequent explosion of a massive star, or supernova, revealed a new study on Friday.

The burst known as GRB 221009A — dubbed the B.O.A.T. (“brightest of all time”) — is the largest explosion since the Big Bang.

It was found to occur once in every 10,000 years and was 70 times brighter than any yet seen.

The supernova was discovered using the powerful next-generation James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), said researchers from Northwestern University in the US, who were also among the international group of scientists to discover B.O.A.T.

In the research, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the team speculated that evidence of heavy elements, such as platinum and gold, might reside within the newly uncovered supernova.

The team’s extensive search did not find evidence of these elements, yet they noted that the origin of heavy elements in the universe continues to remain one of astronomy’s biggest open questions.

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“When we confirmed that the GRB was generated by the collapse of a massive star, that gave us the opportunity to test a hypothesis for how some of the heaviest elements in the universe are formed,” said lead author Peter Blanchard, a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA).

“We did not see signatures of these heavy elements, suggesting that extremely energetic GRBs like the B.O.A.T. do not produce these elements. That doesn’t mean that all GRBs do not produce them, but it’s a key piece of information as we continue to understand where these heavy elements come from. Future observations with JWST will determine if the B.O.A.T.’s ‘normal’ cousins produce these elements,” he added.

Blanchard started his search, about six months after the GRB was initially detected.

It is because GRB was so bright that it obscured any potential supernova signature in the first weeks and months after the burst, he said.

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Using the JWST’s Near Infrared Spectrograph he observed the object’s light at infrared wavelengths and found the characteristic signature of elements like calcium and oxygen typically found within a supernova.

“Surprisingly, it wasn’t exceptionally bright — like the incredibly bright GRB that it accompanied,” he said.

–IANS

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Children most vulnerable to thirdhand smoke: Experts

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) Children are most vulnerable to third-hand smoke pollutants that settle indoors when tobacco is smoked, said health experts on Thursday, ahead of World No Tobacco Day.

World No Tobacco Day is observed every year on May 31 to raise awareness about the health risks of using tobacco.

Thirdhand smoke contains more than 250 residual chemicals including nicotine and cancer-causing substances such as formaldehyde, and naphthalene. It builds up on surfaces over time and can get embedded in clothing, furniture, drapes, bedding, and carpets.

“Children are most vulnerable to thirdhand smoke because they tend to touch surfaces, and often their mouths, resulting in skin exposure and ingestion of these residues,” Lancelot Mark Pinto, from P. D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC, Mumbai, told IANS.

“The only way to prevent such exposure is by completely banning indoor smoking, and insisting on keeping a radius outside buildings and homes smoke-free,” added Lancelot, Consultant Pulmonologist and Epidemiologist at Hinduja.

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Thirdhand smoke is a hidden danger, lingering in furniture, walls, and clothing long after a cigarette is extinguished. The residue can remain for weeks, months, or even years.

“Vulnerable groups include infants, children, and those with respiratory conditions, as they are more likely to come into contact with these contaminated surfaces and inhale harmful residues,” Ishan Capoor, pulmonologist and respiratory medicine, Narayana Health City, Bengaluru, told IANS.

“This exposure can lead to respiratory issues, developmental problems, and an increased risk of cancer,” he added.

To prevent third-hand smoke exposure, ensure that smoking is strictly prohibited indoors and in vehicles. Regularly clean surfaces and fabrics, and encourage smokers to quit or at least to smoke outside and away from others. Awareness and proactive measures are essential to protect the health of those most at risk.”

In addition to children, Srinath Bharadwaj, Medical Oncologist at Apollo Cancer Centre, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, told IANS that it may also harm pets in the house.

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“Our furry friends usually groom by licking their fur. If that fur is coated with smoke residue, they ingest carcinogens and toxins on top of the ones their lungs take in,” he said.

The experts called on businesses, communities, and individuals to take action to help prevent thirdhand smoke exposure by not allowing smoking indoors. Smoking in front of an open window does not prevent thirdhand smoke exposure.

“The best way is to quit smoking and stay safe and keep your family safe,” they noted.

–IANS

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Agnibaan rocket launch a momentous occasion for India's space sector: PM Modi

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) Calling the Agnibaan rocket mission, by IIT Madras startup Agnikul a remarkable feat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said it is a “momentous occasion for India’s space sector”.

Powered by liquid oxygen/kerosene, Agnibaan is a two-stage rocket that can carry up to 300 kg to a height of 700 km.

“A remarkable feat which will make the entire nation proud!” PM Modi said in a post on social media platform X.com.

“The successful launch of Agnibaan rocket powered by the world’s first single-piece 3D printed, semi-cryogenic engine is a momentous occasion for India’s space sector”.

The launch is also “a testament to the remarkable ingenuity of our Yuva Shakti”, PM Modi said.

The Prime Minister also extended “best wishes to the Agnikul Cosmos team for their future endeavours”.

The indigenously designed and manufactured Agnibaan-SOrTeD (SubOrbital Technological Demonstrator) lifted off from India’s first privately developed launchpad called ‘Dhanush’ at 7.15 a.m. today.

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The launch pad, established by Agnikul at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, is located inside ISRO’s rocket port in Sriharikota.

The maiden test flight from the private rocket maker will demonstrate the in-house and homegrown technologies, gather crucial flight data, and ensure the optimal functioning of systems for its orbital launch vehicle the ‘Agnibaan’ by the end of 2025.

–IANS

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India set to woo more global players to establish GCCs over next 3-5 years: Nasscom

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Bengaluru, May 30 (IANS) Access to digitally-skilled talent, the drive to adopt new technologies and the imperative to make greater customer impact are driving the growth of the Global Capability Centre (GCC) ecosystem in the country, a Nasscom report said on Thursday.

India has over 1,580 GCCs with an addition of multiple GCCs every quarter, as companies navigate the complexities of today’s business environment.

According to the report by Nasscom, in collaboration with KPMG in India, the growth trajectory over the next two to three years is expected to continue with the growing number of global players across sectors establishing deep capabilities, building technology centres and transformation hubs.

The report underscored how navigating regulations is a key concern for GCCs, with over 55 per cent of leaders emphasising its importance for smooth operations.

“As GCCs continue their growth trajectory, moving up the maturity curve, with factors such as blurring geographic borders, and technology disruptions, these centres are constantly scanning the dynamic risk landscape and adapting to successfully navigate through,” said Srikanth Srinivasan, Vice President at Nasscom.

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However, this rapid growth and scale of GCCs has also brought to the forefront some challenges that need to be addressed as organisations continue to evolve.

The report identified four considerations for GCCs as they move up the value chain. These include talent management, strategic emerging technology adoption, navigating regulations, and de-layering the concentration concerns.

“India as a nation, is gearing up to attract many more global players to establish and scale their GCCs over the next 3-5 years,” said Shalini Pillay, India Leader – Global Capability Centre, KPMG in India.

There is a growing demand for high-value digital skills in areas such as automation architecture, cloud development, AI/machine learning, data science, etc.

Given the competitive talent market, availability, attraction and retention of niche talent, “building a pipeline of readily deployable talent with the new emerging skills, finding and nurturing, talent equipped for global leadership positions and cost arbitrage have emerged as key challenging factors facing GCCs in India,” the findings showed.

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–IANS

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NASA, Boeing gives green signal to Starliner's 1st astronaut launch on June 1

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) After several delays, NASA, and Boeing on Thursday gave a green signal to Starliner’s maiden flight that will carry humans to space.

The spacecraft, aiming to carry NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Indian-Origin Sunita Williams to the space station, is expected to fly on June 1 aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

“NASA and Boeing teams polled “go” to proceed with plans to launch the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test to the International Space Station at 12.25 p.m. EDT Saturday, June 1,” the company said in a statement.

The mission officials have “verified launch readiness, including all systems, facilities, and teams supporting the test flight”, it added.

This comes after the historic launch planned on May 7 which was scrubbed two hours before liftoff due to a valve issue on the upper stage of the Atlas V rocket. Since then the mission slipped to May 10, and later May 21, and May 25 due to a helium leak.

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Meanwhile, the company also noted a “backup launch opportunity on June 2, June 5, and June 6”.

NASA astronauts Wilmore and Williams returned to Kennedy from Houston on May 28. They will remain in quarantine at the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building until Saturday’s launch, Boeing said.

The Crew Flight Test will send the astronauts to the International Space Station for about a week before returning to Earth aboard the reusable crew capsule.

The Starliner mission aims to carry astronauts and cargo for future NASA missions to low Earth orbit, and beyond.

–IANS

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India Ratings upgrades Adani Green Energy to IND AA-, outlook stable amid robust growth

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) on Thursday upgraded Adani Green Energy Limited’s (AGEL) long-term issuer rating to ‘IND AA-’ from ‘IND A+’, saying the company’s outlook is stable.

Among the key rating drivers are AGEL being the largest renewable developer in India with sound operating parameters of operational assets and healthy free cash flow to equity, along with promoter infusion covering equity commitments.

The upgrade factors in the continued strong operational asset performance include “strong execution scale-up”, with annual capacity additions likely to be 4GW-5GW annually over the medium term from the earlier 2.5-3.5GW.

Other factors for the upgrade include healthy counterparty diversification and a reduction in receivables, leading to an increase in the (cash flow from operations-interest)/EBITDA conversion compared to historical levels.

According to the rating agency, the upgrade also reflects AGEL’s change in policy with respect to the leveraging of the holding company, as the company has now earmarked funds towards the repayment of $750 million hold-co bond.

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“In addition, the upgrade factors in the creation of a platform within AGEL with Total Energies SE, which allows for part asset monetisation while retaining consolidation benefits, the equity infusion by the promoters through warrants of which 25 per cent has already been received, and the continued ability of the company to tie up both debt and raise equity to ensure fully funded under-construction portfolio,” according to analysts.

Earlier this month, AGEL reported 30 per cent EBITDA growth at Rs 7,222 crore in FY24, as the renewable energy (RE) major revised its target for 2030 to 50 gigawatt (GW) from 45 GW.

The robust growth in revenue, EBITDA and cash profit was driven by capacity addition of over 2.8 GW over the last year, representing 15 per cent of the country’s total renewable energy capacity addition.

According to analysts, the upgrade in ratings also reflects Ind-Ra’s expectation of favourable operational to under-construction book ratio, given the operational capacity of nearly 10.9 GW, and an increase in annual capacity addition targets to 5 GW and the “amortising structure of the debt as against bulleted structures earlier, which ensure amortisation of debt, leading to 15 per cent tail life for the projects, thus lowering the refinance and tail risks”.

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The above factors have jointly contributed to a moderation in the leverage to more reasonable levels of 5.5-6.5 times from the historically high levels of 9 times, said the note.

–IANS

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