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Baby Red Dwarf Found Just 27 Light Years Away

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the think-i'll-swing-by-for-lunch dept.

Space 78

bazzalunatic writes "Astronomers have found an infant red dwarf star 27 light years away from Earth, and it's just 40 million years old. 'The star has been known about and studied for the past 15 years, but it wasn't realized it was so young and so close, until now,' co-author Simon Murphy, a PhD student from the Australian National University said in the story. More accurate measurements from telescopes have aided the revised distances of the star dubbed 'AP Colombae.'"

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Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes (5, Funny)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37257384)

fun, fun, fun....

Re:Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37257716)

A roach (fish) once swam up to my submerged foot and nibbled my toe. It wasn't fun. It was startling and scary for a split second. I suspect the same would hold for goldfish. Having goldfish shoals nibbling at your toes should be an acquired enjoyment, I think.

Re:Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37257850)

...in the sun, sun, sun...

Re:Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes (4, Informative)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#37258172)

Mods, this is not offtopic. It's a reference to the theme song of the science fiction comedy Red Dwarf [wikipedia.org] . Consider your geek cards revoked.

Re:Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37258812)

Mods, this is not offtopic. It's a reference to the theme song of the science fiction comedy Red Dwarf [wikipedia.org] . Consider your geek cards revoked.

This is off-topic. Red Dwarf, as great and beloved as it is has damn all to do with real astronomy and interminable spouting of quotes and pop culture references - that we've all heard before ad nauseum - contributes nothing to the actual topic of discussion.

You can keep your geek card, since it's patently not worth the paper upon which it's printed. Hell, even your sig is a trite quote but I'll bet you thought it was ever so profound.

Re:Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37259296)

*Red Dwarf reference about stuck up arseholes*

Humor makes astronomy more enjoyable to me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37259348)

My interest in astronomy came from shows like Star Trek and heck, even Red Dwarf.

As for staying on topic, if it is a purpose so worth our service, why don't you practice what you preach next time and either say something on topic, or keep quiet.

You're just not worthy of Slashdot.

Re:Humor makes astronomy more enjoyable to me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37264740)

Yes, the fact that any article about Uranus are flooded with comments about anuses and Futurama references is oh so amusing.

Please stop posting here, and take the other ADHD afflicted retards with you.

Re:Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes (2)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#37259618)

interminable spouting of quotes and pop culture references - that we've all heard before ad nauseum - contributes nothing to the actual topic of discussion.

Hello, and welcome to the internets. Please pick up your complementary cat pictures at the front desk.

Re:Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes (1)

ginbot462 (626023) | more than 2 years ago | (#37264426)

You'll want to avoid the lost-and-found box.

Re:Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes (0)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37259722)

Smeg offfff!

Re:Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#37259908)

You're cold inside, all devoid of atmosphere,
You're all alone
more or less
jokes by the main,
nibbling at your brain
whine whine whine
all the time, time, time

Re:Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37264732)

STOP YOUR FOUL WHINING, YOU FILTHY PIECE OF DISTENDED RECTUM!!!

here'sabunchofnoncaps
here'sabunchofnoncaps
here'sabunchofnoncaps
here'sabunchofnoncaps
here'sabunchofnoncaps
here'sabunchofnoncaps

Re:Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 2 years ago | (#37259046)

That makes me think... I want to start up a garra rufa pedicure business [wikipedia.org] just so I can call it "Red Dwarf" and be pleased when a few people spot the clever reference. (*)

It'll all be fun and games until the business goes bankrupt because 99% of people don't have a damn clue what it does. Either that or it'll be a smash hit with geeks, who knows?

(*) It has to be a *few* people. If no-one got it, that would suck... but somewhat perversely it would also suck if everyone got it too.

Re:Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37264854)

Geeks know to steer clear of this quackery.

Re:Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes (1)

Geeky (90998) | more than 2 years ago | (#37266170)

No, it really works - feet that have been nibbled by those fish are lovely and smooth to the touch.

In fact I think I'd like to be a garra rufa fish... as long as I could be selective about whose feet I nibble on...

Re:Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37261068)

Obligatory...

It's Nibiru we're all gonna die!!!

And we shall name it Lister! (2)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37257456)

Cause Judas Rimmer would be a silly name.

Re:And we shall name it Lister! (1)

bareman (60518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37257692)

or Smeghead!

Re:And we shall name it Lister! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37258070)

How about Caprica?

Re:And we shall name it Lister! (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261508)

How about Caprica?

Not necessarily a good idea... then you might doom the star to fail early in a series of disappointment

Re:And we shall name it Lister! (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 2 years ago | (#37257808)

To my recollection, Lister was the only one to have babies on the show. It's only appropriate. Although I don't remember their names. Maybe Frankenstein to honor two of the Crew.

Re:And we shall name it Lister! (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37257994)

Jim and Bexley, both names after Jim Bexley Speed.

Re:And we shall name it Lister! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37258088)

They were called Jim and Bexley after Jim Bexley Speed, who played Roof Attack for the London Jets (Zero-G Football)

Re:And we shall name it Lister! (1)

dwarfsoft (461760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37259160)

Apart from Jim and Bexley, he had another son: David Lister. Who was for a time named Our Rob or Ross.

Baby Red Dwarf? Does it have... (1)

tarsi210 (70325) | more than 2 years ago | (#37257470)

Does it have inside of it a baby Cat, baby Lister, baby Kryten, and baby holographic Rimmer?

i want my baby dwarf baby dwarf baby dwarf i want (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37257538)

i want my baby dwarf baby dwarf baby dwarf
i want my baby dwarf baby dwarf baby dwarf
i want my baby dwarf baby dwarf baby dwarf
baaaaaybe red dwarf
barbecue sauce

"Just" 27 light years away (-1, Troll)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#37257632)

Unless we come out with some way to break or dodge the light speed limit, in practical terms it is as unreachable as the rest of the stars of the universe.

Re:"Just" 27 light years away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37257792)

Good grief, do you find nothing interesting just for the sake of it?

Re:"Just" 27 light years away (4, Informative)

exploder (196936) | more than 2 years ago | (#37257894)

Well, as long as we're being pedantic...let's say we never figure out how to break or dodge the light speed limit, but we do learn how to travel at 0.9c. Now this one is 30 years away (or 60 or so if you want to count acceleration at launch and landing, which I'm sure you do). And your average Milky Way star that's say 50,000 lightyears away is now...gosh, it's actually a whole hell of a lot more unreachable.

Re:"Just" 27 light years away (1)

Lithdren (605362) | more than 2 years ago | (#37257910)

I bet you're a hoot at parties.

Also, 27 light years is a very small distance, when you consider the universe we can observe is around 45.7 to 46.6 billion light years across depending on how you mesure it(according to wikipedia anyway).. "Just" is justified in such a discription of distance i'd hope.

Nobody is claiming we're going to be visiting it anytime soon.

Re:"Just" 27 light years away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37257972)

I believe extending our lifespan is a far more realistic goal then trying to deal with the speed and distance issue of space. When people can reach 500+ in age the distances to other objects in space will be a lesser concern.

Re:"Just" 27 light years away (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 2 years ago | (#37258144)

No need to violate the laws of physics, if we knew how to build a ship that constantly accelerated at 1G then it'd only take 6.58 years to get there. OTOH, of course it's impossible with today's technology, just as reaching the moon was 42 years ago, or powered flight 67 years before that. Much like with anything else, "I don't know how to do it" is not equivalent to "it cannot be done", so even faster-than-light travel may well be possible when we have a better understanding of physics.

Re:"Just" 27 light years away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37258318)

If you calculate that it's going to take 6.58 years to reach something that is 27 light years away, your instinct should be to question the validity of your method. In this particular case, you should have noticed that Newtonian mechanics are no longer a good fit for reality when velocities close to the speed of light are involved.

Re:"Just" 27 light years away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37259146)

If you calculate that it's going to take 6.58 years to reach something that is 27 light years away, your instinct should be to question the validity of your method. In this particular case, you should have noticed that Newtonian mechanics are no longer a good fit for reality when velocities close to the speed of light are involved.

What's the problem, exactly? The OP could have been talking about ship time. Perhaps next time you could say why a person is wrong instead of assuming we're all as smart as you apparently are.

Re:"Just" 27 light years away (1)

toddestan (632714) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261216)

Or maybe if you weren't a moron you would realize he must be talking about the amount of time that would pass for the passengers on the ship and not that amount of time that would pass for a stationary observer. And if you do the math, 6.58 years is the correct answer.

Re:"Just" 27 light years away (2)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 2 years ago | (#37258430)

Reaching the moon is impossible with the technology of today. It'd take several years and gobs of work to recreate what we knew in 1969.

Re:"Just" 27 light years away (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37258664)

you are kinda still lacking in the laws of physics then. No matter how your acceleration is, you cannot accelerate faster then the speed of light following current laws of physics. Meaning if a ship could consistantly accelerate, it would cap out at the speed of light and cease to be able to accelerate. That is on par in accuracy with saying, if you just drive your car at 60MPH, you will reach australia in just a few months. That being said the accurate question shouldn't be can we get there, Obviously reaching a star is rather pointless, the sun has been significantly closer for years, I don't see us landing on it any time soon, due to the whole, it is a giant ball of burning gasses that would completely destroy any thing or any one that got near it. The question is, is ther anything that could be gathered by observing it, that can't be gathered from observing our own sun or the farther stars. That question still remains to be answered.

Re:"Just" 27 light years away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37258902)

Sorry, but small correction to make:
Your hypothetical ship wouldn't top out at light speed; it would top out before light speed. You can accelerate arbitrarily close to c but you will never, ever achieve it. This might seem a petty distinction, but it's a fundamental law of nature (at least as far as we currently understand them).

Re:"Just" 27 light years away (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 2 years ago | (#37259776)

Well, constant acceleration means that you're nearing light speed fairly quickly, and relativistic effects (time dilation and length contraction) kick in. It's been four years since I studied physics, and haven't used it since, so I'll defer to a better explanation [ucr.edu] than I could give at the moment.

As for why to travel to stars, it's more a matter of what we might find in the future. Right now, if we were on Alpha Centauri, we would probably know about Jupiter or Saturn, but we'd have no idea the Earth existed, it's too small to wobble the star significantly. There could be tons of Earth-like planets orbiting the hundreds of "nearby" stars. With the human species' instinct to explore and multiply, I have little doubt that we'll reach out to the solar system, and eventually other stars before we meet some Malthusian prediction.

Re:"Just" 27 light years away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37260580)

We're going to hit lightspeed in 24 hours. I have to navigate a ship the size of a city through speeds never before encountered in the human sphere of experience--I'm not a combination of the speaking clock, Moss Bros, and Teasy-Weasy.

And before it was? (1)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 2 years ago | (#37257686)

Does anyone know how far away they previously thought this start was? And when do I get my cryo-chamber?

Re:And before it was? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#37257982)

I believe they previously didn't. That is to say, they didn't really know how far away it was prior to taking this measurement, but in the absence of the measurement, expected that when they did measure the distance, they'd find it was a more typical, brighter red dwarf, further away. That when they measured it and it turned out to be this close was surprising, but they didn't really have a distance number they thought prior to getting this result.

Re:And before it was? (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262532)

Well, at 12-50 ly (4~13 or so parsecs), this is unlikely to be startlingly dim, so it should be in Hipparcos. But being red ... maybe it didn't make the cut.

But why speculate. The cited Arxiv entry gives you the star's several names ; SIMBAD then gives you the rest [u-strasbg.fr] :
Yes, we're talking about flare stars, which is right ; M5 sounds good. 6-7 mag sounds good ... "distance" is given as 4pc, and the source for that is Astron. J., 132, 866-872 (2006) - 27.07.06 25.08.09 August 2006 "Identification of new M dwarfs in the solar neighborhood. " ... nothing in the abstract about distance methods (for 1078 objects, including our object of interest).

[SIGH] and that says "We have estimated the distances for our stars using the absolute magnitudes derived from relations (2) and (3). The uncertainties in the distances are on the order of 37%. Nearly half of our stars lie within 50 pc. There are 41 stars that lie within 10 pc. We have the distances measured from parallax for 12 of these, 3 of which are greater than 10 pc."

Ah, right, I see.
There are a number of relationships established form a mix of theory and calibration between [various spectral characteristics] and [distance]. Various techniques, various differing estimates ; 37% variation in the estimates (for the 1000-odd set considered). Then for a sub-set, they looked at parallax data and found that only 1/4 of the subset are appreciable overestimates. So they're not terribly bad estimates. But that 37% variation should be remembered.

they'd find it was a more typical, brighter red dwarf, further away.

"brighter" means a higher absolute magnitude. Which also means either a greater surface area, or a higher surface temperature. In either case you're not talking about a red dwarf. I'm not sure how you'd detect the "greater surface area" case ... but given that they're looking at flare stars, then they would probably be looking at stars with brightness variations (which would mitigate against larger stars). The "higher surface temperature" case would clearly show in the spectra, so you could reject (or "put aside for later study") those stars simply at the spectroscopy stage.

I don't know why it's not in Hipparcos. Too dim (doubtful, absolutely) ; too red (possible) ; wrong place (didn't Hipparcos have an orbital error?). But I'm sure that I could find out from the published sources. Given enough time.

Re:And before it was? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37268730)

AP Col was not in Hipparcos because it was too dim. Hipparcos measured distances to every star brighter than magnitude 7.3 (it got every star you can see at night, and then some) but coverage gets spotty below that, and it didn't measure any stars at all that were dimmer than magnitude 14. AP Col (magnitude 13) was simply missed.

Most of the distance estimates previous to this were assuming it was a normal star supported by hydrogen fusion and relied on the star's color and brightness.
We know how bright (A) a star of that color (B) should be (if you're 10 pc/32.6 light years away from it).
We know how bright the star appears to be (C) as seen from Earth.
The intensity of light drops off as 1/distance^2, so comparing (A) and (C) gets you a distance estimate.
There are other ways, but basically you have to assume you know what kind of star it is, and know how bright those stars are.

Those estimated distances turned out to be way too close (4 pc=13 ly, 6 pc=20 ly; they're in the paper), because the star is a LOT brighter than a typical star of that color (B). Reason? It's huge, and still somewhere between a cloud and a normal star (closer to the 'normal star' end, though). Larger size= larger light-emitting area=brighter.

The most X out of group Y (2)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37257688)

Ok so this is the youngest of stars within x range of us.

Couldn't you describe any star in such a fashion?

I think this is pretty cool to think that this star is younger than the dinosaurs, but I would have thought that would still be cool no matter the distance it was from us?

Re:The most X out of group Y (1)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 2 years ago | (#37257756)

The cool thing about it is how close it is, not it's relative uniqueness or comparison to an arbitrary group.
Here, and now we know - fairly nearby, we have a very interesting baby star that we can study closely. That's neat.

Re:The most X out of group Y (-1, Troll)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#37257866)

we are pathetic and insignificant. It isn't neat anymore than any other "star" no matter the distance. It might as well be a million light years away.

Re:The most X out of group Y (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261080)

we are pathetic and insignificant

Speak for yourself.

Re:The most X out of group Y (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#37264226)

Did that make you feel better?

Re:The most X out of group Y (2, Informative)

Chmarr (18662) | more than 2 years ago | (#37257892)

> Couldn't you describe any star in such a fashion?

No.

For any range X there is a "youngest star" within that range. The reverse is not true.

Re:The most X out of group Y (1)

drosboro (1046516) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261130)

> Couldn't you describe any star in such a fashion?

No.

For any range X there is a "youngest star" within that range. The reverse is not true.

Sure it is! You just have to define the range so narrowly that only that star falls in the range. :)

Mommy, can we keep it? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37257714)

Look. It's just a baby... so cute..... I always wanted my very own baby red dwarf.

Re:Mommy, can we keep it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37258162)

Pardon, talk PC, it's an ALP (Amerindian Little Person)

Horrible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37257730)

Horrible concept for a TV show. Horrible.

Re:Horrible. (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 2 years ago | (#37260636)

But.. but .. I thought Dancing with the Baby Red Dwarf Stars would be a hit on WB. And then some rightwing politician claimed it was astro-child pornography. You can't win these days.

Lots of close by objects (3, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37257764)

It seems that over the last few years we've had more and more objects which have turned out to be really surprisingly close. Earlier this month, WISE discovered a set of brown dwarfs which are even closer to us http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/08/24/1520206/NASA-Discovers-7th-Closest-Star [slashdot.org] . WISE has turned out to be a very good investment. Although it was primarily made for the discovery and tracking of near-Earth asteroids, it has turned out to be very useful for near stellar astronomy. This is a different situation than the brown dwarfs because this was an object which we knew about but didn't realize was so nearby. AP Columbae is both very close, and very young. It is only 40 million years old, which makes it very young. TFA discusses how they used the lithium levels in the star to estimate its age. This is a standard technique that is also used to distinguish between cool stars and brown dwarfs since brown dwarfs don't touch their lithium enough to substantially reduce the quantities (although in this case we already knew that this was a star and not a brown dwarf). One thing to note is that this star is extremely faint. Even though it is so close it has an apparent magnitude of around +13 which means that you can't see it unless you have a very big telescope (With apparent magnitude large numbers are fainter. So for example, Venus has an apparent magnitude of around -5 and Sirius has an apparent magnitude of about -1.4. +13 is really dim.) So we have a very dim, small star right nearby.

Re:Lots of close by objects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37257878)

Paragraphs, motherfucker, do you speak it?

Re:Lots of close by objects (1)

sgtrock (191182) | more than 2 years ago | (#37258256)

As a matter of fact, the OP does. Do you?

Re:Lots of close by objects (1)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 2 years ago | (#37260602)

How crowed is our local stellar neighborhood? Is there any estimate of how many stars are within 50 or 100 light years of the Sun, and if such a number exists, what are the error ranges? It seems like the technology is available for an organized effort for a local star census. Is anything like this currently happening?

It is a really great time for astronomy right know. I hope there are more posts like this.

Re:Lots of close by objects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37262218)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nearest_stars [wikipedia.org]

Wolf 359 is a red dwarf that is only 8 light years away. Tau Ceti is apparently very similar to our sun and is about 12 light years away. The closest is Proxima Centauri at about 4.2ly.

Re:Lots of close by objects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37260716)

With all of these previously unknown objects being discovered, perhaps we're seeing the first actual pieces of "Dark Matter"?

Re:Lots of close by objects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37262452)

You can easily see 13th mag stars in a scope with a 6" aperture -- hardly a very big telescope. A conservative formula is 7.5 + 5 * log(dia. in cm). From a dark site I have routinely seen 13 mag stars with a 4" scope when the seeing was good.

Re:Lots of close by objects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37266532)

It seems that over the last few years we've had more and more objects which have turned out to be really surprisingly close. Earlier this month, WISE discovered a set of brown dwarfs which are even closer to us...

Obviously this means the universe is starting to contract! Gnab gib, here we come!

Song (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37257906)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kJXxGMeMbs

Just 27 light years? (1)

Ossifer (703813) | more than 2 years ago | (#37257952)

We should pop over for the weekend...

Re:Just 27 light years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37258452)

Imagine the hangover after that weekend!

Re:Just 27 light years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37259522)

Will there be toast?

Re:Just 27 light years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37260834)

How about a muffin?

What page are you on? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37258048)

Google search "64-bit operating system"

  What page are you on?

Go here too:
http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/11/mf_ticketmaster/all/1

Asimov? (1)

McCat (1438893) | more than 2 years ago | (#37259700)

Is anyone else reminded of Asimov's novel, Nemesis? Here's to the discovered closeness of this red dwarf upsetting the gravitational stability of our solar system!

Re:Asimov? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37262622)

Just because we've discovered doesn't mean that it's going to start having any effect on us from now. It's been there for 40m years, so it's had that long to take its toll on our system - any variances caused by that star would just be considered 'normal' after all that time.

Re:Asimov? (1)

danlip (737336) | more than 2 years ago | (#37265326)

And it's still 27 light years away. That's may be considered "close" on an interstellar scale but it's still a huge distance.

Underage Probing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37261592)

So they've been probing an underage star for 15 years? Didn't know how old she was? That's what they all say...

No Wikipedia page (1)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 2 years ago | (#37263504)

There is no page for AP Columbae .. how can that be?

NB. The WP search says, "Did you mean 'APA Columbae?'", but if you go for that option, it still finds no results. That bug has been around for a while in Google.

Warning: objects are closer than they appear! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37263622)

Watch Out!

Wow, I almost got poked in the eye....

Come on.... (1)

d.the.duck (2100600) | more than 2 years ago | (#37263682)

Red Dwarf? I think Red Little Star is more appropriate.
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