An enormous alien planet — one that is 11 times more massive than Jupiter — was discovered in the most distant orbit yet found around a single parent star. The newfound exoplanet, dubbed HD 106906 b, dwarfs any planetary body in the solar system, and circles its star at a distance that is 650 times the average distance between the Earth and the sun. "This system is especially fascinating because no model of either planet or star formation fully explains what we see," study lead researcher Vanessa Bailey, a fifth-year graduate student in the University of Arizona's department of astronomy, said in a statement. In the most commonly accepted theories of planet formation, it is thought that planets that orbit close to their parent star, such as Earth, began as small, asteroid-type bodies that clumped together in the primordial disk of gas and dust around the burgeoning star.
2012 YEAR IN REVIEW
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- Weather: Thousands Evacuated Amid Tidal Surge
Thousands of homes are thought to have been flooded as Britain is hit by its most serious tidal surge for more than 60 years. It comes after a powerful Atlantic storm, packing winds of up to 140mph, claimed two lives and caused widespread disruption. The Environment Agency has more than 129 flood warnings and alerts in place across England and Wales, including 23 severe flood warnings which are only issued when flooding poses a "significant threat to life".
- Storm surge swamps North Sea states
- White South Africans' uneasy love affair with Mandela
The sidewalk blackboard outside the pizza parlour in South Africa's quaint seaside village Kalk Bay, inhabited mainly by whites, changed for the first time in months on Friday.
- Air Traffic Control Problem Delays UK Flights
Flights at airports across the UK - including Heathrow and Gatwick - have been delayed or cancelled by an air traffic control system problem. Thousands of passengers have seen their flights delayed by a problem switching from night-time to daytime operating capacity at southern England's main air traffic control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire. Airports in the south east of England - the world's busiest airspace - have been hardest hit, with the knock-on impact disrupting flights across the UK and further afield. Passengers have complained about a lack of information as they spend hours stuck on planes, while budget airline Ryanair has called for the Civil Aviation Authority to step in to prevent further chaos.
- Christmas cracked? Threat to shoppers from tills that "steal"
- Air Traffic Control Glitch Delays Continue
Dozens of passengers have been forced to spend the night in airports after an air traffic control glitch caused major delays across the UK and Ireland. While the disruption is likely to have a knock-on effect today, the three main London airports predicted a largely trouble-free day. At Gatwick, there were three delayed flights but "no significant disruptions". The National Air Traffic Service (Nats) is investigating the glitch which it said was fixed at 7.30pm on Saturday night.
- U.S. unemployment rate hits five-year low, eyes on the Fed
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 203,000 jobs last month, following a similarly robust rise in October, the Labor Department said on Friday. The report, which showed broad gains in employment and a rise in hourly earnings, suggested strength in the economy heading into year-end. "It will add further confidence to the Fed of a reduced need for monetary stimulus in the U.S. economy. The unemployment rate dropped three tenths of a percentage point to its lowest level since November 2008 as some federal employees who were counted as jobless in October returned to work after a 16-day partial shutdown of the government.