“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
Current Affairs News Analysis for UPSC | 11th Jan 2021
Missing supermassive black hole : Abell galaxy
A missing supermassive black hole that has left astronomers baffled
WHY IN NEWS:
Scientists have been looking for the black hole using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope, and have so far found no evidence that it is anywhere to be found.
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Space
- Scientists have been looking for the black hole using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope, and have so far found no evidence that it is anywhere to be found.
THE ‘MISSING’ BLACK HOLE
- The black hole is supposed to be located in Abell 2261, an enormous galaxy cluster that is about 2.7 billion light-years away from our planet.
- One light-year is the distance that a beam of light travels in one Earth year, which is 9 trillion km.
- At 2.7 billion light-years away, the Abell galaxy is at an overwhelmingly large distance away from us.
WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED?
- Every large galaxy in the universe has a supermassive black hole at its centre, whose mass is millions or billions of times that of the Sun.-NASA.
- Scientists have been using data gathered in 1999 and 2004 to look for the centre of the Abell galaxy, but have so far been unable to find its black hole.
- A reason for this that Abell’s black hole has been ejected from the centre of the galaxy.
- This also may have happened because of the merging of two smaller galaxies to form Abell– a process in which both of their black holes merged to form an even bigger black hole.
‘RECOILING’ BLACK HOLES
- When two black holes merge, they release what are known as gravitational waves– invisible ripples travelling at the speed of light, which squeeze and stretch anything in their path.
- This is known as a “recoiling” black hole.
- As of now, only mergers of significantly smaller black holes have been verified.
- Should the hypothesis by the researchers turn out to be true, it would mean a major breakthrough in astronomy.
SOURCES: IE | Current Affairs News Analysis for UPSC | 11th Jan 2021
Arunachal Pradesh is likely to become India’s prime producer of vanadium.
WHY IN NEWS:
The Geological Survey of India (GSI) found promising concentrations of vanadium in the palaeo-proterozoic carbonaceous phyllite rocks in the Depo and Tamang areas of Papum Pare district in Arunachal Pradesh.
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1 :3 : Geography : Rocks : Chemistry
- Vanadium is a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23.
- It is a hard, silvery-grey, malleable transition metal.
- The elemental metal is rarely found in nature.
- Vanadium is a high-value metal used in strengthening steel and titanium.
- The largest deposits of vanadium of the world are in China, followed by Russia and South Africa.
- China, which produces 57% of the world’s vanadium, consumed 44% of the metal in 2017.
- Vanadium occurs naturally in about 65 minerals and in fossil fuel deposits.
- It is produced in China and Russia from steel smelter slag.
- It is mainly used to produce specialty steel alloys such as high-speed tool steels, and some aluminium alloys.
SOURCES : IIPT
- India is a significant consumer of vanadium, but is not a primary producer of the strategic metal.
- According to data provided by the GSI, India consumed 4% of about 84,000 tonnes of vanadium produced across the globe in 2017.
- Vanadium mineralisation in Arunachal Pradesh is geologically similar to the “stone coal” vanadium deposits of China hosted in carbonaceous shale.
- This high vanadium content is associated with graphite, with a fixed carbon content of up to 16%.
SOURCES: THE HINDU | Current Affairs News Analysis for UPSC | 11th Jan 2021
Covaxin trials : Side-effects, Irregularities
Bhopal Covaxin trial participants allege side-effects, irregularities
WHY IN NEWS:
Bhopal-based rights group writes to PM and Union health minister, demanding that ongoing Covaxin trial be halted there
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Health:Diseases
- A huge chunk of the participant group are victims of Bhopal gas tragedy .
- Since the trial was not ‘unblinded’, it is not known whether the 21-year-old participant got a vaccine or placebo.
WHAT PARTICIPANTS SAY
- Man Singh Parihar, a 70-year-old mason, got his first shot on December 21. He complained of breathlessness and loss of appetite later.
- Bharat Biotech denied the allegations. It claimed to have complied with all rules.
SOURCES: DownToEarth | Current Affairs News Analysis for UPSC | 11th Jan 2021
2020 was the hottest year despite La Niña
2020 was the hottest year globally despite cooling La Niña
WHY IN NEWS:
Matches temperature record of 2016 which began with warming weather events.
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Climate change : Reports
- Last year was the sixth in a series of exceptionally warm years starting in 2015 and 2011-2020 the warmest decade recorded.
- It is notable that 2020 matches the 2016 record despite a cooling La Niña, whereas 2016 was a record year that began with a strong warming El Niño event.
- Alongside the global rise in temperatures, the European continent also witnessed its warmest year on record in 2020.
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere have continued to rise at a rate of approximately 2.3 parts per million (ppm) a year in 2020, reaching a maximum of 413 ppm in May, 2020.
- The rate of growth of CO2 was slightly less than that of 2019.
- While La Niña is there, the north-south wavy pattern of the jet stream is seen as warm cold patterns in the northern hemisphere midlatitudes.
- When the jet stream dips south, colder Arctic air follows behind it.
- Parts of the Arctic and northern Siberia saw some of the largest annual temperature deviations from average in 2020.
- The temperature swings for individual months were even more drastic as they regularly reached more than 8°C.
- The wildfires emitted 244 megatonnes of CO2 in 2020 which is a record and is 33 per cent more than the 2019 record.
- Arctic sea ice extent was also significantly lower in the last six months of 2020, with July and October seeing the lowest sea ice extent on record for the respective months.