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Astrophysics milestone: First ever photo of black hole expected this Wednesday

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Washington: Scientists are expected to unveil the first-ever photograph of a black hole this week.
If they do, it will mark a major breakthrough in astrophysics and could provide new insight into the giant celestial monsters.
The US National Science Foundation says it will announce during a press conference “a groundbreaking result” from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project.
The announcement is scheduled to take place on April 10 at 9:00am (Washington time).
Simultaneous news conferences are also scheduled in Brussels, Santiago, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo.
Science fiction paints black holes as all-consuming monsters but, for astronomers, there’s no cooler place to try and see. Listen as Cosmic Vertigo disappears beyond the event horizon.
Scientists from the EHT project are keeping tight-lipped about their findings, but it’s widely expected they will show at least one photo of a black hole.
The project was formed seven years ago with the aim of directly observing the immediate environment of a black hole.
“It’s a visionary project to take the first photograph of a black hole. We are a collaboration of over 200 people internationally,” the project’s director, astrophysicist Sheperd Doeleman, said at an event in March.
To do so, the scientists linked a series of radio telescope dishes across the globe to create “a virtual Earth-sized telescope”.
The researchers then targeted two supermassive black holes.
The first — called Sagittarius A* — is situated 26,000 light years from Earth at the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy, and is 4 million times the mass of our Sun.
A light year is the distance light travels in a year: 9.5 trillion kilometres.
The second — called M87 — resides 54 million light-years away from Earth at the centre of the neighbouring Virgo A galaxy, with a mass 3.5 billion times that of the Sun.
The first data was then obtained in April 2017.
Black holes aren’t the cosmic vacuum cleaners they are sometimes made out to be, but they are extremely fun to study.
Black holes form when very massive stars collapse at the end of their life cycle.
They are extraordinarily dense entities and have gravitational fields so intense no matter can escape being sucked in, including stars, planets, gas, dust and light.
The fact that black holes do not allow light to escape makes viewing them difficult.
So the scientists are instead looking for the ring of light around the black hole — the radiation and matter circling at tremendous speed around the edge of the event horizon.
The scientists behind the EHT project said they would aim to capture a razor-sharp image, but warned it wouldn’t be easy.
“The quality of the images depends on the arrangement of the telescope array, weather conditions at the telescope sites, as well as blurring of images as the light travels from the black hole toward the Earth,” the project’s website says.
The research will put to the test one of the pillars of science — physicist Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity — according to University of Arizona astrophysicist Dimitrios Psaltis, project scientist for the EHT.
That theory, put forward in 1915, was intended to explain the laws of gravity and their relation to other natural forces.
“The shape of the [black hole’s] shadow will be almost a perfect circle in Einstein’s theory,” Dr Psaltis said.
“If we find it to be different than what the theory predicts, then we go back to square one and we say, ‘Clearly, something is not exactly right’.”


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Fresh restrictions in Kashmir in view of Friday prayers

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Fresh restrictions were imposed in parts of Kashmir on Friday as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of congregational prayers, officials said.

Normal life continued to remain affected across the valley for the 47th consecutive day with markets closed and public transport off the roads, the officials said.

Restrictions under Section 144 CrPc have been imposed in few areas of the valley to maintain law and order, the officials said.

They said the curbs have been imposed in Nowhatta and adjoining areas in downtown (interior city) and Anchar area of Soura police station in Srinagar.

The restrictions have also been imposed in Kupwara and Handwara police districts and the main towns of Ganderbal, Anantnag and Bijbehara, the officials added.

Security forces have been deployed in strength in vulnerable areas in the rest of the valley, they said.

The officials said the curbs were a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of apprehensions that vested interests might exploit the large Friday prayer gatherings at big mosques and shrines to fuel protests.

Friday prayers have not been allowed at any of the major mosques or shrines – including Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta or Dargah Sharief in Hazratbal – in the valley for the past over a month now.

Restrictions were first imposed across Kashmir on August 5 when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate the state into two Union territories. The restrictions were lifted in phases from many parts of the valley.

Internet services have remained suspended across all platforms, they said. While landlines across the valley were functional, voice calls on mobile devices were working only in Kupwara and Handwara police districts of north Kashmir, they added.

The efforts of the state government to open schools have not borne fruit as parents continued to keep children at home due to apprehensions about their safety.

Most of the top-level and second rung mainstream politicians, including three former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, continued to be in detention or under house arrest.

While NC president Farooq Abdullah was first placed under house arrest, he was on Tuesday booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA).

His son Omar and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti were detained on the night of August 4 — hours before the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and to bifurcate the state into two Union territories.

Most of the mainstream leaders, including former ministers and legislators, were also either detained or kept under house arrest, the officials said.

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Ignoring protests, Gates Foundation to give Narendra Modi global award

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New York: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be awarding the Global Gatekeepers Award to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his leadership in India’s achievement sanitation, the organisation has announced.

“Modi is receiving an award at the Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the progress India is making in improving sanitation, as part of its drive toward achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” the Foundation said in a statement to IANS on Wednesday.

“Sanitation is a key factor in improving the health and well-being of millions of people, especially women and children,” it added.

Modi is being recognised by the foundation in New York on September 24 for the Swachh Bharat Mission of which the constructions of toilets is a key element.

A motley collection of Indian secularists, Pakistanis, activists and entertainers have opposed the award to Modi alleging he was responsible for human rights violations and for India rescinding the special status for Kashmir.

Some influential US media also published articles demanding that the Foundation cancel the award.

The publications include Foreign Policy magazine’s website, and Washington Post that is owned by Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, which has disputes with the Indian government. The Post published an opinion article by two Indian-origin lawyers.

An organisation called S Asian Philanthropy published in the Medium a letter signed by people of Indian origin and others representing various foundations and NGOs.

National Public Radio reported that a dozen demonstrators with “Stop Genocide, a project of the American human rights group Justice For All”, delivered a petition with 100,000 signatures to the Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle protesting the award for Modi.

The radio also said that three Nobel Peace Prize winners – Shirin Ebadi of Iran, Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman of Yemen and Mairead Maguire of Britain – had also sent the Gates a protest letter.

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Army nabs Gurdaspur man on charges of spying for Pakistan

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Gurdaspur, September 19: A resident of Tibri village here was nabbed by Army officials for allegedly providing photographs of the cantonment area and the under-construction Kartarpur corridor to someone in Pakistan, police said on Thursday.

Vipan Singh was held by Army personnel on Wednesday, said Kulwinder Singh, Station House Officer (SHO), Purana Shalla police station in Gurdaspur.Officers of the military intelligence were still questioning Singh, the police said, adding that he was yet to be handed over to them.

The suspect was allegedly offered Rs 10 lakh for providing sensitive information, though it was yet be verified, the police said.Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur up to the border is being built by India.

 

The Kartarpur corridor will connect Darbar Sahib–the final resting place of Guru Nanak in Pakistan’s Kartarpur–with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib

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