the world as we write it
Thursday, January 29, 2009
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Distant planet has extreme global warming
In just six hours, this planet four times the size of Jupiter heats up by more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a study published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.
"It's the first observation of changing weather" on a planet outside our solar system, said study author Gregory Laughlin, an astronomy professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He used NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to study the planet.
Change is a mild way to put it for the lifeless world, called HD80606b, where the word "mild" would never enter a weather forecast.
Normally, the planet is a toasty 980 degrees or so. But in the few hours it whips around its sun the planet gets zapped with mega-heat, pushing the thermometer closer to 2,240 degrees.
During its brief pass close to its sun, the planet is 10 times nearer its star than Mercury is to our sun. When it comes closest to its star, it becomes one giant "brewing storm" complete with shock waves, Laughlin said. The radiation bombarding the planet is 800 times stronger than when it is farthest away.
Then just as quickly, the planet slingshots away and radiates the heat to the cool vacuum of space. It glows cherry red and the temperature plummets, Laughlin said.
"Utterly bizarre," he said. "It is thoroughly completely uninhabitable. In a galaxy of uninhabitable planets, this one stands out as being completely inhospitable to life."
The planet circles its star the larger of two stars in a binary system in a comet-like orbit in just 111 days.
The star is visible from Earth near the Big Dipper. On Feb. 14, HD80606b will travel between the Earth and its star. There's a 15% chance that amateur astronomers using small telescopes could see it swing by, obscuring a tiny part of the star, Laughlin said.
"This is indeed an oddball planet, where the temperature range of the season changes from hellish to super-hellish," said Carnegie Institution astronomer Alan Boss. "This place makes Venus look like a nice place to live, and that is saying something."
Bombed by The Black Rider at 7:03 AM
Nokia unveils three new phone models
Thursday, Jan 29, 2009 8:37AM UTC
HELSINKI (Reuters) - Nokia unveiled on Thursday three new cellphone models, including the successor to its slim hit model Nokia 6300, as the world's top handset vendor pushes to win a larger share of a shrinking market.
Cellphone sales will dive this year, hit by consumers' reluctance to spend on new gadgets in the midst of the economic recession and large inventories built up by phone sellers at the end of last year.
Nokia's 6700 classic -- the follow-up to the Nokia 6300, which was among Nokia's top sellers for many quarters -- will sell for 235 euros ($307.4) starting in the second quarter, when excluding subsidies and taxes.
The model will have a 5-megapixel camera and GPS navigation with Nokia Maps.
"Our new arrival shares the same 'DNA' as its predecessor and we believe that it will be one of our best selling devices in 2009," Soren Petersen, Senior Vice President at Nokia, said in a statement.
Nokia also unveiled the 6303 and 2700 models, which are expected to sell for 135 euros and 65 euros respectively, excluding subsidies and taxes. (Reporting by Tarmo Virki)
Bombed by The Black Rider at 6:57 AM
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