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United Nations: Days of speculation ended with a wave across a table.

Would Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif meet? wondered pundits, diplomats and journalists. Or would they shake hands? Or have a ‘pullaside’ – a quick conversation on the sidelines?


They finally got their answer at Modi’s last UN event about four hours before he left on Monday. Modi and Sharif exchanged a couple of waves and smiles across the table at the Peacekeeping Summit convened by President Barack Obama. And that was it. Sharif waved first and Modi responded.

Modi and Sharif shared the same hotel, the Waldorf Astoria, but avoiding each other was easy. The hotel has several entrances and leaders’ entries and exits through driveways that lead right into the middle of the building are carefully orchestrated.

Some diplomatic gestures are carefully arranged. One of Modi’s diplomatic assignments listed for Monday included a ‘handshake/exchange of greeting’ with Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat as Modi approaches his table. But the wave wasn’t.

When Modi and Sharif met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit Ufa in Russia in July, they opened the possibilities of a de-freeze in ties between the two countries. However, the deep freeze has returned with firing across the border and the cancellation of the talks between the National Security Advisers.

Now its time to decipher the nuances of the smiles and waves for clues to the next phase of diplomacy.

(By Arul Louis, IANS)


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The possible exoplanet -- or planets outside of our Solar System -- candidate is located in the spiral galaxy Messier 51 (M51), also called the Whirlpool Galaxy because of its distinctive profile, NASA said in a statement.

Astronomers have, so far, found all other known exoplanets and exoplanet candidates in the Milky Way galaxy, almost all of them less than about 3,000 light-years from Earth.

An exoplanet in M51 would be about 28 million light-years away, meaning it would be thousands of times farther away than those in the Milky Way, NASA said.

"We are trying to open up a whole new arena for finding other worlds by searching for planet candidates at X-ray wavelengths, a strategy that makes it possible to discover them in other galaxies," said Rosanne Di Stefano of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard and Smithsonian (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the study.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The exoplanet candidate was spotted in a binary system called M51-ULS-1, located in M51. This binary system contains a black hole or neutron star orbiting a companion star with a mass about 20 times that of the Sun. The X-ray transit they found using Chandra data lasted about three hours, during which the X-ray emission decreased to zero.

Based on this and other information, the team estimates the exoplanet candidate in M51-ULS-1 would be roughly the size of Saturn and orbit the neutron star or black hole at about twice the distance of Saturn from the Sun.

The team looked for X-ray transits in three galaxies beyond the Milky Way galaxy, using both Chandra and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton. Their search covered 55 systems in M51, 64 systems in Messier 101 (the "Pinwheel" galaxy), and 119 systems in Messier 104 (the "Sombrero" galaxy).

However, more data would be needed to verify the interpretation as an extragalactic exoplanet. One challenge is that the planet candidate's large orbit means it would not cross in front of its binary partner again for about 70 years, thwarting any attempts for a confirming observation for decades, NASA said.

Named in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel laureate, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, the Chandra X-ray Observatory is the world's most powerful X-ray telescope. It has eight times greater resolution and is able to detect sources more than 20-times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope.

Known to the world as Chandra (which means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit), Chandrasekhar was widely regarded as one of the foremost astrophysicists of the twentieth century. (IANS/JB)


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