In today’s Bulldog wrapup of science and technology news:
- A newly discovered plant has three suns
- The CEO of testing firm Theranos is suspended by feds
- Wendy’s provides info about what restaurants were hacked
- A big security technology merger involves Avast and AVG
- Triple sunrises, sunsets at this strange new world
Imagine a planet with triple sunrises and sunsets every day for part of the year, and nonstop daylight at other times.
Astronomers revealed such a place Thursday: a strange new world in the Constellation Centaurus that has not one, not two, but three suns. What’s more, a year there lasts half a millennium from Earth’s perspective.
Discoverer and lead author Kevin Wagner said he’s thrilled “to have seen such a beautiful part of nature that nobody else has seen.”
As amazing as three sunsets and sunrises are, “I think nature will have some other surprises in store for us as we continue exploring,” Wagner, a doctoral student at the University of Arizona at Tucson, said via email.
Triple-star systems with detected planets are rare enough; this is believed to be just the fifth such discovery. But the giant gassy world in this one — formally known as Planet HD 131399Ab — has the biggest known orbit in a multi-star system.
Its orbit is double Pluto’s — or roughly 550 Earth years. That’s how long it takes to orbit its system’s brightest star, a super-size sun. The two smaller stars orbit one another and, as a pair, orbit with their big stellar brother.
Planet HD 131399Ab has four times the mass of our own Jupiter. With such a wide orbit and companion stars, scientists would expect a planet like this to be kicked out in a tug of stellar war. Yet that’s not the case.
During part of the planet’s orbit, all three stars are visible on the same day, offering triple sunrises and sunsets and allowing for day and night. For about one-fourth of its year — around 100 to 140 Earth years — there’s continuous daylight. That’s because as the big sun is rising, the two smaller ones are setting.
“With three suns, the planet will see different weird combinations of sunrises and sunsets,” said co-author Daniel Apai, a University of Arizona astronomer.
He added: “This is a system for which I would not want to design a calendar.”
The astronomers used the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile to spot the planet 320 light-years away. It is one of the few exoplanets — planets outside our own solar system — to be directly imaged. Most exoplanets are identified by periodic dips in starlight as the planets pass between us and their stars.
The team reported the discovery Thursday in the journal Science.
Find out more online at:
European Southern Observatory: http://www.eso.org/vlt
- Feds ban Theranos CEO Holmes from running lab for 2 years
Theranos says the federal government has banned founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes from owning or running a medical laboratory for two years.
The company announced the decision by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Thursday.
The ban stems from a review of the company’s Newark, California, lab. The company acknowledged in April it was being investigated by several regulators and agencies following reports by The Wall Street Journal in which former employees said the company’s tests were unreliable.
Theranos also says the government has suspended its approval to receive Medicare and Medicaid payments related to bloodwork.
In a statement, Holmes says she’s disappointed by the decision, but the company accepts “full responsibility for the issues.”
The 32-year-old Holmes started Palo Alto-based Theranos in 2003.
- Wendy’s says more than 1,000 restaurants affected by hack
Wendy’s said hackers were able to steal customers’ credit and debit card information at 1,025 of its U.S. restaurants, far more than it originally thought.
The hamburger chain said Thursday hackers were able to obtain card numbers, names, expiration dates and codes on the card, beginning in late fall. Some customers’ cards were used to make fraudulent purchases at other stores.
Wendy’s Co. urged customers to check their accounts for any fraudulent purchases.
The Dublin, Ohio, company first announced it was investigating a possible hack in January. In May, it said malware was found in fewer than 300 restaurants. About a month later, it said two types of malware were found and the number ofrestaurants affected was “considerably higher.”
There are more than 5,700 Wendy’s restaurants in the U.S.
Customers can see which locations were affected through the Wendy’s website . The company said it is offering free one-year credit monitoring to people who paid with a card at any of those restaurants.
Get more details at:
Wendy’s data breach information: https://www.wendys.com/en-us/about-wendys/the-wendys-company-updates
Wendy’s impacted restaurant search: https://payment.wendys.com/paymentcardcheck.html
- Avast to acquire AVG in $1.3 billion internet security deal
Avast Software says it is acquiring its anti-virus rival AVG Technologies N.V. in a $1.3 billion deal.
Prague-based Avast says it is ready to pay $25 per share in cash for Amsterdam-based AVG, 33 percent above Wednesday’s closing price on the New York Stock Exchange after the two signed a deal on it.
Avast said Thursday the deal is meant to “gain scale, technological depth and geographical breadth.” It aims to “take advantage of emerging growth opportunities ininternet security as well as organizational efficiencies” with a goal to becoming serious competition for the global leaders in the internet security business.
The companies have over 400 million users combined.
Avast says the transaction is expected to close between Sept 15 and Oct 15.