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Chances of Finding Young, Earth-like Planets Higher Than Previously Thought, Scientists Say

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

The research found that there are more stars like the Sun than expected in these groups, which would increase the chances of finding Earth-like planets.

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: June 6, 2020, 4:54 PM IST

Researchers in the UK have found that the chance of finding Earth-like planets in their early stages of formation is much higher than previously thought.

The team of researchers from the University of Sheffield studied groups of young stars in the Milky Way to see if they were typical compared to theories and previous observations in other star-forming regions in space, and to study if the populations of stars in these groups affected the likelihood of finding forming Earth-like planets.

The research, published in The Astrophysical Journal, found that there are more stars like the Sun than expected in these groups, which would increase the chances of finding Earth-like planets in their early stages of formation. In their early stages of formation, these Earth-like planets, called magma ocean planets, are still being made from collisions with rocks and smaller planets, which causes them to heat up so much that their surfaces become molten rock.

“These magma ocean planets are easier to detect near stars like the Sun, which are twice as heavy as the average mass star. These planets emit so much heat that we will be able to observe the glow from them using the next generation of infrared telescopes, said lead researcher Dr Richard Parker. The research included undergraduate students from the varsity, giving them an opportunity to apply the skills learnt during their course to leading published research in their field.

“The locations where we would find these planets are so-called ‘young moving groups’ which are groups of young stars that are less than 100 million years old – which is young for a star. However, they typically only contain a few tens of stars each and previously it was difficult to determine whether we had found all of the stars in each group because they blend into the background of the Milky Way galaxy. “Observations from the Gaia telescope have helped us to find many more stars in these groups, which enabled us to carry out this study,” said Parker.

The findings from the research will help further understanding of whether star formation is universal and will be an important resource for studying how rocky, habitable planets like Earth form. The team now hopes to use computer simulations to explain the origin of these young moving groups of stars.




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Private Photos You Thought You'd Deleted Could Still be There: How to Secure Your Data

Your smartphone is your companion for the most private moments. In fact, over time, our phones end up collecting a staggering amount of private data, including photographs that you would not want the world to see, screenshots of bank transactions, images linked to your workplace, and so on. Given how the world is today, data is a valuable currency, and any digital file can be potentially tracked down to their owners, leading to a variety of unforeseen outcomes. Identity theft, counterfeit activities and lewd modification of personal files are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can happen to your personal files, if you do not take good enough care of them.

Private photos and files

As general practice, it is always ideal to NOT keep sensitive files, such as private photographs and important images, on your phone. There are myriad reasons for this, the foremost of which is cyber security. Malware such as Pegasus have already showed how sophisticated tools can gain root level access to all your device files. However, for the sake of convenience, it is not always possible to delete all locally stored files from your phone.

In such cases, ensure that you do a monthly hygiene check on your phone. Identify all files that may seem sensitive, in the sense that they can compromise your privacy, identity, financials and other related aspects. If you do not plan to reset or switch your device any time soon, transfer these sensitive files to your PC, and into a folder or a drive volume purely dedicated to storing private files. Once you transfer the files, there are multiple steps that you can follow in order to give them a higher grade of security.

Transferring files to your PC and encrypting the related folder is one way of securing the data.

The first of the options is to use a third party software, such as BitLocker. These applications offer an assisted interface towards encrypting sensitive data. While this is not a 100 percent failsafe procedure, it still makes your data significantly more secure, and helps you protect it from most remote access threats. These procedures will hold up and keep you safe, as long as you stay safe from any keylogger infecting your device.

The second of the options is an integrated feature available through Microsoft’s Windows OS. The Encrypting File System (EFS) procedure is built into the advanced folder settings on Windows, and to use it, you will require a dedicated USB flash drive to store your security certificate. To access it, you can click on the ‘advanced’ tab of a folder, select ‘encrypt stored files’, and follow the on-screen instructions. Alternately, cyber security blog Comparitech has a fully guided procedure that you can follow to encrypt files locally on Windows.

When resetting or changing devices

It is also important to note that by simply selecting ‘permanently delete’ on your sensitive files, they may still be traced (albeit with difficulty) by savvy users, even after you reset all data on your device. You may choose to do so before selling your smartphone, or exchanging it for a new one. Multiple apps such as Recuva, DiskDigger and Android Data Recovery can retrieve files that have been deeply deleted, and while these can be a boon when you are trying to recover data, it can be a privacy risk as well.

Ensure that the data on your phone cannot be recovered, even after a hard reset.

To keep yourself safe from this, there are two key steps to adapt. One, encrypt your phone before you factory reset your phone that deletes all data. This ‘hashes’ files on your phone, and ensures that any leftover data recovered after a reset is mostly garbled. The second and equally effective option is to set your phone up (without entering email or any relevant details), and subsequently storing generic files on your phone’s internal storage, for as long as the internal flash drive does not get entirely filled up. Performing a second factory reset after this ensures that no personal files are accidentally cached, and hence, are entirely un-recoverable.

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