Jun 4, 2019

Two planets orbiting a distant star

PDS 70 (center) with PDS 70 b (left) and PDS 70 c (right). Photo: ESO and S. Haffert

Two planets have been spotted growing around a star 370 light-years from our own Sun, according to a study in the journal Nature Astronomy this week.

The big picture: By studying these forming planets, scientists will be able to get a glimpse into how planet formation occurs on a large scale.

  • It's notoriously difficult to spot gaps caused by nascent planets forming in disks of gas and dust surrounding stars, but in this case, the researchers caught sight of hydrogen being eaten up by the growing worlds.

What they found: The star — named PDS 70 — is a bit smaller than our Sun, but it's much younger, at 6 million years old.

  • Scientists discovered the first planet in orbit around PDS 70 in 2018 using the Very Large Telescope in Chile. That world — named PDS 70 b — is thought to be 4–17 times the mass of Jupiter and is the star's innermost planet.
  • The newfound planet, named PDS 70 c, is about 3.3 billion miles from its star, at around the same distance as Neptune is from our Sun.
  • Researchers think PDS 70 c is about 1–10 times as massive as Jupiter and was also spotted with the Very Large Telescope.

What's next: These large planets are likely ideal targets for the JWST — expected to launch in 2021. The huge telescope, which is thought of as the Hubble Space Telescope's successor, is designed to parse out the composition of the atmospheres of planets far from our own solar system.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 14,800

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 2,000 people for the second day in a row, and it's infected more than 432,000 others, per Johns Hopkins data.

Where it stands: More than 14,800 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. — including over 4,500 in New York. The state's death toll surged to its highest one-day total on Wednesday — beating the previous day's record. 779 people died in New York in 24 hours. N.Y. has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe.

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Zoom in: The update comes as ministers meet to discuss whether to extend the United Kingdom's lockdown and after the country's health officials reported Wednesday the highest daily rise in COVID-19 deaths — 938, taking the total to over 7,300. London Mayor said Wednesday the U.K. is "nowhere near lifting the lockdown," with the virus not expected to peak there until next week.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,484,811 — Total deaths: 88,538 — Total recoveries: 329,876Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 432,132 — Total deaths: 14,817 — Total recoveries: 23,906Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Top Trump administration officials had been developing a plan to give cloth masks to huge numbers of Americans, but the idea lost traction amid heavy internal skepticism.
  4. States latest: New York has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe. Chicago's Cook County jail is largest-known source of coronavirus in U.S.
  5. Business: One-third of U.S. jobs are at risk of disappearing, mostly affecting low-income workers.
  6. World: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to put politics aside "if you don’t want to have many more body bags.”
  7. Environment: COVID-19 is underscoring the connection between air pollution and dire outcomes from respiratory diseases.
  8. Tech: A new report recommends stimulus spending to help close the digital divide revealed by social distancing.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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