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Russian scientist working on COVID-19 vaccine plummets to death in St. Petersburg – Fox News

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A prominent Russian scientist who was working on a COVID-19 vaccine was found dead with a stab wound after plummeting out his window in St. Petersburg, according to news reports.

U.S. TESTING CZAR DOESN’T BELIEVE U.K. TRAVEL BAN IS NECESSARY YET DESPITE NEW COVID-19 VARIANT

Alexander “Sasha” Kagansky, 45, was in his underwear when he fell to his death from his 14th-floor apartment, according to the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.

The scientist also suffered a stab wound, police said.

Police believe there was a scuffle before Kagansky fell from the building, reports said.

Russian police say they are investigating Kagansky’s death as a possible homicide and questioning a 45-year-old man as a potential suspect, e2news.com said.

US SAYS IT IS SHUTTERING LAST 2 CONSULATES IN RUSSIA

Kagansky, best known for his work on cancer research, was an assistant professor in Vladivostok and had spent 13 years working in Edinburgh, Scotland, until 2017, the outlet said.

He was most recently working as director of the Center for Genomic and Regenerative Medicine at Russia’s Far Eastern Federal University.

He had been working on developing a vaccine against the coronavirus, e2news said.

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Kagansky’s body was found by a neighbor on Zamshin Street, the report said.

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Astronomers discover huge exoplanet has the density of cotton candy – CBC.ca

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Roughly 212 light years away in the Virgo constellation lies a super-large exoplanet that has astronomers revising their theory of how giant gas planets form.

The exoplanet, called WASP-107b, was discovered in 2017. At the time, it was difficult to accurately pinpoint its mass. But what astronomers did know is that it was already unusual. 

It is a particularly large planet, roughly the size of Jupiter, but with an orbit that is just a mere nine million kilometres away from its host star, WASP-107, which is estimated to be about three billion years old.

To put that in perspective, Mercury, the closest planet to our sun, sits at 60 million kilometres. One year on WASP-107b takes roughly 5.7 days. 

However, now, after years of observations using the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, a team of international astronomers have uncovered something else: WASP-107b is oddly light. In fact, it’s much lighter than what was thought was needed to build gas giants such as Saturn and Jupiter.

“What was really surprising about this planet is that people have known … that it’s about the size of Jupiter, so it’s a gas giant,” said Eve Lee, co-author of the study published in the Astrophysical Journal and an assistant professor in the department of physics at McGill University and McGill Space Institute in Montreal. “So if it’s a gas giant, then the usual expectation is that it would weigh just as [much] as gas giants. Except it didn’t.”

A comparison of Earth in the Great Red Spot of Jupiter, a giant storm that is at least 400 years old. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Christopher Go)

Jupiter is about 300 times the mass of Earth. But WASP-107b — while roughly the same size as our solar system’s biggest and most massive planet — is only 30 times that of Earth. That’s 1/10th the mass. 

The international team of astronomers inferred from their observations that the core of the planet was just four times that of Earth. But in theory, it was believed that these giant planets with such a gaseous atmosphere would require a core that was at least 10 times that of Earth’s.

After a star forms, the remaining gas and dust — called a protoplanetary disk — come together to build planets. When it comes to the gas giants, it’s believed that a core that is 10 times more massive than Earth’s is required to build — or accrete — and hold on to the gas envelopes.

This image from the European Southern Observatory shows a protoplanetary disk This picture of the nearby young star TW Hydrae reveals the classic rings and gaps that signify planets are in formation in this system. (S. Andrews [Harvard-Smithsonian CfA]; B. Saxton [NRAO/AUI/NSF]; ALMA [ESO/NAOJ/NRAO])

So what’s the deal with WASP-107b?

Lead author Caroline Piaulet of the Université de Montréal said there are two key elements in the theory of how this might have happened.

First, it’s believed that WASP-107b formed much farther out from its current location, likely around one astronomical unit, or the average distance between the sun and Earth, roughly 150 million kilometres. There, it began to accrete gas and dust relatively quickly. 

Secondly, it began to cool rather quickly.

“When it cools down efficiently, it’s able to accrete efficiently because if it cools down, it’s going to shrink,” said Piaulet. “So it’s going to have more space to accrete more gas.”

Eventually, the planet migrated inward to its current position.

Yet another surprise

WASP-107b isn’t the only “super puff” planet, as they are often called. Lee said there are four others known, though WASP-107b is the puffiest.

So just how puffy is it?

“It’s usually compared to cotton candy, because it’s about the right density,” Lee said. “But it’s not the kind that you find at carnivals. It’s more like the kind that you buy at stores.”

And, as surprising as this super-puff planet was, there was yet another surprise in store: a second planet orbiting the star, WASP-107c. 

The planet was detected because of the longer observation time and was found to be roughly one-third the mass of Jupiter. Its orbit around the star takes about three years, significantly longer than WASP-107b. 

The discovery is just a reminder that, while we may think we have an understanding of how planets form, we still have a lot to learn about what lies beyond our own solar system. Even then, Piaulet said, we still don’t even know much about the cores of our own giant gas planets, such as Jupiter. 

“What I found really exciting is that it’s kind of pushing our understanding of planet formation to its limits.”

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SpaceX rocket deploys record-setting cargo – Phys.org

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A framegrab of video of the SpaceX launch on January 24, 2021

SpaceX on Sunday launched its Falcon 9 rocket carrying a record number of satellites on board, the private space company said.

The rocket successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 10:00 am (1500 GMT), 24 hours after its initial take-off had been scrubbed due to .

Andy Tran, a SpaceX production supervisor, said in a video of the launch that the Falcon 9 was carrying 133 commercial and government “spacecraft” as well 10 SpaceX satellites.

“The most spacecraft ever deployed on a single mission,” Tran said.

SpaceX is flying Falcon 9 under a “rideshare” program through which other firms and governments pay the Elon Musk-founded company to deliver their technologies to space.

Minutes after taking off, the Falcon 9’s main booster that had thrust the rocket to the edge of space separated from the rest of the craft and dropped back down to Earth in a controlled fall.

It landed itself on an unmanned spaceport drone ship called “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean, marking the booster’s fifth successful deployment and recapture.

In a series of tweets, SpaceX said all 143 satellites had been successfully deployed.

SpaceX aims to send thousands of small satellites into space to form a global broadband system called Starlink.

Scientists have expressed concerns about the number of objects clogging the space around Earth. SpaceX say their satellites are designed to burn up in the atmosphere within a few years.


Explore further

SpaceX delays launch of mini-satellites


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Edmundston area of New Brunswick enters lockdown due to COVID-19 surge – Burnaby Now

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FREDERICTON — Public Health officials in New Brunswick reported another 20 cases of COVID-19 in the province Sunday, just hours after one of the province’s hardest-hit areas began a 14-day lockdown.

Nine of the new cases are in the newly locked-down Edmundston region which now has 144  of the province’s 334 active cases.

Ten of the new cases are in the Moncton region and there is one new case in the Miramichi area.

Health officials say the Edmundston lockdown is needed to curb a rise in daily infections that they fear is about to get out of control.

As of now, non-essential travel is prohibited in and out of the area, which borders Maine and Quebec’s Bas-St-Laurent region. 

The order also forces non-essential businesses, schools and public spaces to close, including outdoor ice rinks and ski hills. 

Provincial officials say they will evaluate the situation in the region every seven days, and cabinet may extend the lockdown if necessary. 

New Brunswick has had 1,124 COVID-19 cases and 13 related deaths since the pandemic began.

Five people are in hospital, including two in intensive care.

“We will be more confident in our decision making, and zone restrictions are more likely to be eased, if more New Brunswickers, in all health zones, who have symptoms get tested,” Dr. Jennifer Russell,  chief medical officer of health, said Sunday in a statement.

The Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton regions are in the red level of the province’s pandemic recovery plan, with the rest of the province at the orange level.

A handful of schools in the province are also poised to make the move to remote learning amid the surge in local infections.

Monday will be an operational response day at Andover Elementary School, Perth-Andover Middle School and Southern Victoria High School in Perth-Andover, as well as Donald Fraser Memorial School and Tobique Valley High School in Plaster Rock.

Students in those schools will learn from home starting Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021. 

The Canadian Press

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