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How a black hole is formed

When a massive star exhausts its fuel, it collapses under its own gravity and produces a black hole, a new study has revealed.

According to a new analysis by an astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), just before the black hole forms, the dying star may generate a distinct burst of light that will allow astronomers to witness the birth of a new black hole for the first time.
While some dying stars that result in black holes explode as gamma-ray bursts, which are among the most energetic phenomena in the universe, those cases are rare, requiring exotic circumstances, Tony Piro, a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech said.

“We don’t think most run-of-the-mill black holes are created that way,” he said.
In most cases, according to one hypothesis, a dying star produces a black hole without a bang or a flash: the star would seemingly vanish from the sky -- an event dubbed an unnova.

“You don’t see a burst. You see a disappearance,” he said. But, Piro hypothesizes, that may not be the case. “Maybe they’re not as boring as we thought,” he said.

Pine bark pills hold promise against diabetes

A daily dose of a natural supplement made from pine bark dramatically improved a combination of harmful risk factors known as metabolic syndrome that are a precursor to diabetes, heart disease and stroke, a new research has found.

Metabolic risk factors include a large waist, high levels of fat in the blood, lowered levels of “good” cholesterol, raised blood pressure and high blood sugar levels.

People with three of the five risk factors are considered to have metabolic syndrome, which puts them in significant danger of developing life-threatening conditions, according to the Daily Express. But a clinical study, published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, showed that the supplement Pycnogenol, an antioxidant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, could reduce these symptoms.

Nearly 90 per cent of people in the study who supplemented a healthy diet and regular exercise with the pills showed significant improvement of all metabolic syndrome characteristics, including obesity and high blood pressure. Pycnogenol can aid people struggling with metabolic syndrome to control blood lipids, sugar and blood pressure, said lead researcher Dr Gianni Belcaro of the University of Chieti-Pescara in Italy.

Exercise may prevent kidney stones in older women

Just a couple hours of exercise a week, of any intensity, can help prevent kidney stones from forming, a large study on women aged over 50 has found. The study noted that even walking for a couple hours a week could cut the risk of developing this painful and common problem by about one-third, the New York Daily News reported.

Dr. Mathew Sorensen of the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, who led the study, said that just getting a minimum amount of exercise could help.

The study was discussed on Friday at an American Urological Association conference in San Diego.

Kidney stone problem is a little more common in men. But incidence has risen 70 per cent over the last 15 years, most rapidly among women.

Obesity raises the risk, as do calcium supplements, which many women take after menopause. A government task force has recently advised against supplements for healthy older women, saying that relatively low-dose calcium pills don`t do much to keep bones strong but make kidney stones more likely.

The new research involved nearly 85,000 women 50 and older in the government-funded Women`s Health Initiative study.

Participants said how much exercise they usually got and that was translated into “METs” — a measure of how much effort an activity takes.

After about eight years, 3 per cent of the women had developed a kidney stone. Compared to women who got no leisure-time exercise, those who got up to 5 METs per week had a 16 per cent lower risk for stones.

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