7th November 2020

What is a radio burst, spotted by NASA for the first time in the Milky Way?

Recently, NASA has reported that it observed a mix of X-ray and radio signals never observed before in the Milky Way. Significantly, the flare-up it observed included the first fast radio burst (FRB) seen within the galaxy.

The first FRB was discovered in 2007. Essentially, FRBs are bright bursts of radio waves (radio waves can be produced by astronomical objects with changing magnetic fields) whose durations lie in the millisecond-scale, because of which it is difficult to detect them and determine their position in the sky.

What is the origin of the FRB detected?

The source of the FRB detected in April 2020 in the Milky Way is a very powerful magnetic neutron star, referred to as a magnetar, called SGR 1935+2154 or SGR 1935, which is located in the constellation Vulpecula and is estimated to be between 14,000-41,000 light-years away.

What is a magnetar?

  • As per NASA, a magnetar is a neutron star, “the crushed, city-size remains of a star many times more massive than our Sun.” The magnetic field of such a star is very powerful, which can be over 10 trillion times stronger than a refrigerator magnet and up to a thousand times stronger than a typical neutron star’s.
  • Neutron stars are formed when the core of a massive star undergoes gravitational collapse when it reaches the end of its life.
  • Magnetars are a subclass of these neutrons and occasionally release flares with more energy in a fraction of a second than the Sun is capable of emitting in tens of thousands of years.

Significance –

Until now, there were various theories that tried to explain what the possible sources of an FRB could be. One of the sources proposed by the theories has been magnetars. But before April this year, scientists did not have any evidence to show that FRBs could be blasted out of a magnetar. Therefore, the observation is especially significant.


Ghogha-Hazira ferry service

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will virtually inaugurate the Ghogha-Hazira Ro-Pax ferry service in Gujarat. This will be the second such ferry service to be launched by the PM after the Ghogha-Dahej route three years ago, which is now dysfunctional.

What is different about the Ghogha-Hazira RoPax ferry service?

  • Both the services were launched to bridge the Gulf of Khambhat by providing a sea route to large number of passengers travelling to and fro between Bhavnagar located on the western side of the Gulf and South Gujarat on the east. The sea route would be shorter compared to the road.
  • The ferry between Ghogha — a fishing hamlet and an old port — and Hazira — a commercial greenfield port — which will be virtually inaugurated by PM Modi, is about 60 km-long and provides easier access to the city of Surat. Via land, the route is about 400 km.
  • In comparison, the first ferry route inaugurated by PM Modi in October 2017, connects Ghogha to Dahej which lies near the mouth of Narmada river, north to Hazira. This route is about 32 kilometers and connects the Dahej PCPIR and Bharuch town.

Announcing the suspension of ferry service on September 24, 2019, Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) issued a statement that four to six lakh cusecs of water discharged from the Narmada dam had “resulted in heavy and unexpected siltation in the navigation channel at Dahej Ro-Ro terminal. ”The water level at this terminal has decreased to just one metre which was “not safe for ferry operations,”. GMB also invoked the force majeure clause (unforeseeable circumstances that prevent fulfilment of contract).


Body Mass Index – India ranks 3rd 

India ranks third and fifth from the bottom respectively among countries where 19-year-old girls and boys have a low body mass index, according to a study in The Lancet. 

  • Body mass index (BMI) is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. BMI is an inexpensive and easy screening method for weight category—underweight, healthy weight, overweight, and obesity.
  • BMI does not measure body fat directly, but BMI is moderately correlated with more direct measures of body fat. Furthermore, BMI appears to be as strongly correlated with various metabolic and disease outcome as are these more direct measures of body fatness.

What does the study indicate?

  • The study provides new estimates for height and BMI trends in 2019 across 200 countries after analysing data from 2,181 studies.
  • BMI is measured as the weight in kg divided by the square of the height in metres. World Health Organisation guidelines define a normal BMI range as 18.5 to 24.9, overweight as 25 or higher, and obesity as 30 or higher.
  • The mean BMI of 19-year-old boys is 20.1 in India, compared to a high of 29.6 in the Cook Islands and a low of 19.2 in Ethiopia. For Indian girls, the mean BMI is again 20.1, compared to a high of 29.0 in Tonga and a low of 19.6 in Timor-Leste.
  • The mean height of Indian 19-year-olds is 166.5 cm for boys and 155.2 cm for girls, well below the high of Netherlands boys (183.8 cm) and girls (170 cm).


Software Technology Parks of India – ₹400 crore

The Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) is investing up to ₹400 crore in setting up office and connectivity infrastructure across several cities, offering small technology firms a ‘plug-and-play’ facility.

  • An STPI is a society established in 1991 by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
  • The objective of an STPI is to encourage, promote and boost the export of softwarefrom India.
  • STPI maintains internal engineering resources to provide consulting, training and implementation of IT-enabled services.
  • The STP Scheme is a 100 per cent Export Oriented Scheme for the development and export of computer software, including export of professional services using communication links or physical media.
  • This scheme is unique in its nature as it focuses on one product/sector, i.e. computer software.
  • The scheme integrates the government concept of 100 per cent Export Oriented Units (EOU) and Export Processing Zones (EPZ) and the concept of Science Parks / Technology Parks, as operating elsewhere in the world.
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