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Astronomers discover biggest black holes ever

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Scientists have discovered the two biggest black holes ever observed, each with a mass billions of times greater than the Sun’s, according to a study published Monday.

The two giants are located in the heart of a pair of galaxies several hundred million light years from Earth, said the study in scientific journal Nature.

Each black hole is estimated to have a mass about 10 billion times greater than the sun, dwarfing the previously largest-known black hole, which has a mass of 6.3 billion suns.

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The University of California, Berkeley, team led by Nicholas McConnell and Chung-Pei Ma said one black hole is located in NGC 3842, the brightest of a cluster of galaxies about 320 million light years from Earth.

The second hole is of “comparable or greater mass” and is located in NGC 4889, the brightest galaxy in the Coma cluster, about 335 million light years away.

“These two black holes are significantly more massive than predicted,” the astronomers wrote.

They said their calculations suggest that different evolutionary processes influence the growth of the largest galaxies and their black holes than in smaller galaxies.

Astronomers have long supposed that since the universe began it has harboured black holes with a mass the size of the two newly found giants.

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These cosmic gluttons grow in tandem with their galaxies, slurping up gases, planets and stars.

“There is a symbiotic relationship between black holes and their galaxies that has existed since the dawn of time,” Kevin Schawinski, a Yale astronomer said in a June study.

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British woman in Spain revived after 6 hours in cardiac arrest

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A British woman suffering from severe hypothermia who was revived by doctors in Spain after more than six hours of cardiac arrest, on Thursday hailed her survival as "a miracle".

Audrey Marsh collapsed at around 1:00 pm on November 3 when she and her husband were caught in a snowstorm while out walking in the Pyrenees mountains.

But it was just over two-and-a-half hours before rescue teams were able to reach them, with the 34-year-old showing no signs of life nor cardiac activity, and a body temperature of just 18 degrees Celsius (64.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Initial efforts to revive her at the scene had no effect and she was flown by helicopter to a Barcelona hospital equipped with an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine (ECMO).

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Samoa in two-day lockdown during unprecedented battle against measles crisis

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Samoa entered a two-day lockdown Thursday to carry out an unprecedented mass vaccination drive aimed at containing a devastating measles epidemic that has killed dozens of children in the Pacific island nation.

As the death toll climbed to 62, officials ordered all businesses and non-essential government services to close, shut down inter-island ferries and told people to keep their cars off the roads.

Residents were advised to obey a dawn-to-dusk curfew, staying in their homes and displaying a red flag if any occupants were not yet immunised.

Hundreds of vaccination teams, including public servants drafted in for the operation, fanned out across the nation of 200,000 in the early hours of the morning.

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Sun yields its secrets to Parker Solar Probe

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NASA's Parker Solar Probe, having survived its closest encounter so far with the Sun, has sent back a "spectacular trove" of data on its corona, the super-hot outer edge of its atmosphere, scientists said Wednesday.

The car-sized probe, launched in August last year, will come within some four million miles (six million kilometres) of the sun's surface during a series of fly-bys at other distances and trajectories over seven years.

It is hoped it will allow a better understanding of the solar wind and electromagnetic storms which can cause chaos on Earth by knocking out the power grid.

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