The two small dots in the upper left of this infrared image are a brown dwarf binary known as HD 130948BC. The binary is in orbit around a young sunlike star, seen to the lower right. This image was obtained with the adaptive optics system on the Keck II Telescope, located on Mauna Kea.
UH scientists gauge 'failed stars'
University of Hawaii astronomers have for the first time measured the mass of brown dwarfs, objects that are smaller than stars but bigger than gas planets like Jupiter.
These "failed stars," with surface temperatures comparable to a pizza oven (800 degrees Fahrenheit), are the faintest objects that can be observed outside the solar system.
"Mass is the fundamental parameter that governs the life history of a free-floating object, and thus after many years of patient measurements, we are delighted to report the first masses of the very faintest, coldest brown dwarfs," said Michael Liu of the UH Institute for Astronomy, in announcing the findings yesterday at a meeting in St. Louis.
The research team, which included UH's Trent Dupuy and Michael Ireland of the University of Sydney, used super-sharp images from the Keck II Observatory on Mauna Kea to study brown dwarfs that occur in pairs bound together by gravity. They calculated the mass of two brown-dwarf binaries -- one at 6 percent of the mass of the sun, the other at 11 percent.
Feds OK $5.2M for airline layoffs
Hawaii will receive about $5.2 million in federal money to assist workers laid off by the closure of Aloha and ATA airlines, members of the state's congressional delegation announced.
The emergency grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, announced yesterday, will assist an estimated 710 former employees in the areas of counseling, skills assessment and job retraining.
"There is an immediate need for this assistance because the shutdown of both Aloha and ATA created a severe situation in our community," U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said in a statement.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka added, "We must continue to work together to assist all of the employees who have and may continue to be challenged by the financial conditions of the airline industry."
Aloha Airlines, citing financial problems, abruptly shut down passenger service on March 31, just 11 days after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Three days after Aloha's announcement, ATA Airlines, which operated 13 round-trip flights on peak days between Hawaii and the West Coast, abruptly announced it was filing for federal bankruptcy protection and immediately shutting down all operations.
About $3.3 million of the grant will be available immediately and be administered by the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, the delegation said.
Sentence delayed in golf killings
A federal judge delayed sentencing for a man involved in brazen daytime shootings that killed two men and wounded a third at the Pali Golf Course four years ago.
Rodney Joseph Jr., who pleaded guilty to murder and racketeering, was to be sentenced yesterday. As part of an earlier plea agreement with Joseph and two other men involved in the shooting, the government agreed to seek prison sentences of up to 27 1/2 years.
But U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway rescheduled sentencing for Joseph until July 10 due to the issue of "substantial assistance," according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Brady.
Last week, Mollway also delayed sentencing for Kevin A. Gonsalves and Ethan Motta for the same reason. Other than their guilty pleas, she had said the government's request provided no detail on the men's assistance, which is required to qualify for a sentence shorter than life in prison. Mollway had requested information of the men's assistance.
Joseph's attorney, Reginald Minn, declined to comment yesterday.
Police, Fire, Courts
Motorcyclist dies in Maui accident
A motorcyclist was killed last night on Honoapiilani Highway on Maui.
The accident occurred about 6 p.m. yesterday about one-tenth of a mile from the pali tunnel on the Lahaina side, Maui County officials said.
Maui police closed the highway from about 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. between Front Street, Lahaina, to Maalaea. Police also restricted traffic in and out of Kahakuloa.
Victim in apparent suicide is identified
The Honolulu Medical Examiner's Office identified a 35-year-old Honolulu man who died after his pickup truck crashed into a tree near Pali Lookout on Sunday in an apparent suicide as Timote Likiliki.
Police said that shortly after 10 a.m., Likiliki was heading town-bound on Nuuanu Pali Drive Access Road when his truck veered to the left and slammed head-on into a large tree. Likiliki, who died at the scene, was pinned between the steering wheel and seat.
Likiliki was not wearing a seat belt, and his airbags were deployed, police said. Police classified the case as an unattended death.
The Medical Examiner's Office said Likiliki died from multiple internal injuries in a suicide.
Boy, 13, arrested for punching dad
A 13-year-old boy allegedly punched his 80-year-old father, fracturing three ribs, after the two argued Saturday morning.
The two were arguing in Ewa Beach when the father hit his son, who then punched his father three times, police said. The father went to Tripler Army Medical Center for treatment, police said. The hospital called police Sunday night to report the incident.
Police arrested the boy on suspicion of second-degree assault.
Name of drowning victim is released
A Japanese tourist who died snorkeling in Waimanalo yesterday was identified by the Medical Examiner's Office as Yoshimichi Sasaki.
The cause of the 60-year-old man's death was asphyxia due to drowning, the Medical Examiner's Office said.
The accident occurred at Kaupo Bay on the Waimanalo side of Sea Life Park. Sasaki's body had washed up against the rocks at about 7:20 a.m., a fire official said. His wife had been beachcombing while he went snorkeling, and she did not realize he was in trouble until she saw rescuers pull him out of the water.