Connect with us

Tech

Webb Telescope Snaps Some Of Its Largest Images, And They’re Majestic

Published

on


Ancient Mayan culture referred to the Orion Nebula as the cosmic fire of creation.

Contemporary scientists see that enormous cloud of gas and dust in space in a somewhat similar way. The vast baby star nursery, south of Orion’s belt, is about 1,350 light-years away, making it the closest large star-forming region to Earth. Because of its proximity, it’s a prime target for astronomers to study the births of stellar objects.

Within the nebula, aka Messier 42, are protostars (precursors to stars), brown dwarfs (failed stars too small to generate their own nuclear power), and rogue planets (worlds that wander through space unhitched to a host star).

Now with the James Webb Space Telescope, scientists are able to see this important celestial site with unparalleled resolution. The telescope, a partnership of NASA and the Canadian and European space agencies, reveals the cosmos in infrared, a form of light that isn’t visible to human eyes. The data, translated into colors people can see, offer a plethora of new insight.

Researchers have released new wide-angle views of the Orion Nebula that could enrich our understanding of star evolution. Two images are some of the largest mosaics from Webb so far. The new Webb data have uncovered hundreds of free-floating worlds in the nebula, not orbiting stars, the smallest of which are two times the mass of Saturn, according to ESA.

A European Space Agency tool known as ESA Sky allows users to zoom in and explore the details. Some 2,400 individual images were combined to make the full short-wavelength color composite view, and 712 individual images were combined to obtain the long-wavelength one, according to ESA.

In this short wavelength mosaic image, Webb focuses on the nebula and its stars.

Want more science and tech news delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for Mashable’s Light Speed newsletter today.

In this long wavelength composite image, Webb focuses on the gas, dust, and molecules in the region.

At the center of the nebula are four massive stars collectively known as the Trapezium because they are arranged in a trapezoidal shape.

Webb astronomers looking at the Orion Nebula recently detected a curious carbon molecule in a young star system, known as d203-506. Organic chemists say the molecule, methyl cation, assists with the formation of more complex carbon-based molecules, acting like a train station where a molecule can remain for a time before routing to one of many different directions to react with other molecules.

The discovery was published in the journal Nature in June.





Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tech

Immigrant banking platform Majority secures $20M following 3x revenue growth

Published

on

By


It can be challenging to pick up and move to a new country, made even more challenging if you are not used to the style of banking in that particular country.

The increase of immigrants to the United States — some 50 million total foreign-born people live in the U.S. now, according to immigration think tank Center for Immigration Studies — presents an opportunity for startups to tailor financial services to this population. Companies like Comun, Maza, Alza and Welcome Technologies, for example, help Latino immigrants open bank accounts. 

Magnus Larsson, himself an immigrant from Sweden, ran into similar problems and created Miami-based Majority in 2019 to address them. For a $5.99 per month membership fee, migrants can open a bank account and get a debit card, community discounts, low-cost international money transfers and discounted international calling. There is also a peer-to-peer pay feature.

Accounts don’t require a Social Security number or U.S. documentation, just an international government-issued ID and proof of U.S. residence. They also don’t have overdraft fees or minimum balance requirements. In addition, users have access to Majority’s “Advisor Program,” a network of trained support staff nationwide, who are immigrants themselves.

“For many customers, we are the primary relationship they have when it comes to their financial services, and services to connect back to their own country,” Larsson told TechCrunch. “Most migrants are hit by a lot of predatory fees. When it comes to financial services, remittances and moving money cross-border, you pay a fixed fee, but we are taking away the other fees.”

Magnus Larsson, founder and CEO of Majority.
Image Credits: Majority

Majority’s approach has caught on: Over the past year, the company grew its revenue three times while the number of users doubled. In April, Majority reached $40 million in annual recurring revenue and $200 million monthly in new deposits, Larsson said. Overall, transaction volume grew five times, while remittances grew four times in 2023. Remittances are how someone in the U.S. sends money to someone across boarders, like to family members back home.

TechCrunch has followed Majority’s growth journey since it closed a $19 million seed round in 2021. The company has since gone on to raise a $27 million Series A and several tranches of Series B funding, most recently a $9.75 million round in 2023, which included backing from existing investors Valar Ventures and Heartcore Capital. 

All of that growth led Larsson to consider raising additional funding to help pay for more growth. Of the $20 million in capital raised, $12.5 million is equity, another Series B tranche. The round was led by fintech founders including Klarna co-founder Victor Jacobsson and Swedish serial entrepreneur Hjalmar Winbladh. Valar Ventures, Heartcore Capital and another existing investor Avid Ventures are back to participate, and Zettle co-founders Magnus Nilsson and Jacob de Geer also participated. 

The rest of the money was $7.5 million in debt financing from an unnamed bank. In total, Majority has raised $90 million in equity funding to date. Larsson also declined to give the company’s valuation, but did say it was a flat round.

In addition, the company recently hired Abhi Pabba to serve as chief risk officer. Pabba previously served as Apple’s manager of credit risk for the Apple Card. He will support Majority’s upcoming product expansion efforts. 

With the new funding, Larsson intends to continue developing products, including helping users establish a credit score and gain access to credit products. The company is also building products for redundancies to better manage risk.

The recent funding is also the final step toward profitability, Larsson said.

“That’s always been the aim, and could come as soon as next year,” he said. “We are in that stage where we know our customers well, we know that they love our product and we know how to scale this market very well. What we’re doing is making people thrive and succeed better and faster. It’s something that is needed, and going forward, we are evaluating how we can build this for 300 million people.”



Source link

Continue Reading

Tech

Google Pay will now display card perks, BNPL options and more

Published

on

By


Google Pay is rolling out a number of updates that capitalize on its integrations with other Google products, like Android and the Chrome browser. Starting Wednesday, people who check out with Google Pay will be able to see their card benefits and perks before selecting a card, use “buy now, pay later” through partners like Affirm and Zip and fill in their card details through biometrics or a PIN, instead of by entering their security code.

The changes are designed to enhance the consumer experience of using Google Pay and make it a more competitive option against other payment methods, including the developer or retailer’s built-in payment system, often powered by businesses like Stripe, as well as the payment services from other tech giants, like Apple, Amazon and PayPal, for instance.

One of the most compelling features now rolling out is the ability to see each of the cards’ benefits and rewards before making a selection. Google notes that consumers who have multiple credit cards with different perks may not always remember which is the best card to use when. Some cards offer travel-related perks, for example, while others may offer dining perks or cash back. Now, when someone clicks into the Card Number box to pick a card from a list of saved payment methods, Google Pay will showcase relevant card benefits that accompany each card.

Image Credits: Google

This feature will initially support American Express and Capital One cards, but Google says it plans to expand to include more cards in the future. It also only works on Chrome desktop for the time being.

Another new feature is the introduction of the “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) option when checking out. Google began piloting this option earlier this year, but it’s now rolling out to more merchant sites and Android apps across the U.S. The tech giant is partnering with BNPL firms for this offering, including Affirm and Zip. At checkout, Google Pay users can either sign in to their existing accounts with these providers or sign up with a provider from the checkout screen, it says.

Image Credits: Google

In addition, Google is making it easier to confirm the card of choice without having to enter its security code — a number that people often have to manually look up.

Instead, Google will allow Chrome and Android users to verify their card details the same way they unlock their Android devices. That means users will be able to verify their card with a fingerprint, face scan or screen lock PIN. Users will also be able to set up device unlock that requires them to unlock their device before card details are shown. This feature is designed to keep card info safe from others who may have access to the device.

Image Credits: Google

The new features are rolling out now to Google Pay on the web and on Android.



Source link

Continue Reading

Tech

Peter Thiel-founded Valar Ventures raised a $300 million fund, half the size of its last one

Published

on

By


The perception in Silicon Valley is that every investor would love to be in business with Peter Thiel. But the venture capital fundraising environment has become so difficult that even Valar Ventures, one of the VC firms he helped found, has raised a much smaller fund this year compared to previous ones. 

Thiel set up Valar in 2010 and appointed Andrew McCormack and James Fitzgerald to run it. Both previously worked at his family office (Thiel Capital) and at Clarium Capital Management, the now-defunct hedge fund Thiel founded. It’s not clear how much involvement Thiel has in Valar these days. His name hasn’t been listed on the firm’s website among the team’s partners in many years. 

The New York-based firm has successfully raised a $300 million Valar Fund IX, according to a May 17 SEC filing. While that’s a decently sized fund, it is less than half of the predecessor, which closed on $665 million in July 2022. Valar raised over $863 million in late 2021 for its fund VII, according to SEC filings.   

Valar isn’t the only firm to target less money for its latest fund amid a tougher fundraising climate for venture funds — regardless of the notable names attached to them. Tiger Global raised 63% less than its original target in its latest fundraise. Insight Partners also reduced its fundraising target last year. And Founders Fund, arguably Thiel’s most prestigious VC firm, slashed the target of its eighth venture capital fund in half in 2023, from around $1.8 billion to around $900 million, although it reportedly did so for strategic reasons, rather than in response to the fundraising environment (and it also simultaneously did raise a $3.4 billion second growth fund, Axios reported).

“Raising these funds in the current market is a significant vote of confidence in our team and strategy,”  Fitzgerald told TechCrunch in an email. However, he didn’t respond to TechCrunch’s question about Valar’s current relationship with Thiel. 

Then again, other funds with big names attached to them are doing very well with their fundraising efforts. ICONIQ Growth this month successfully hit its $5.75 billion fundraising target for its seventh flagship growth fund, up from $3.75 billion for the sixth one. ICONIQ Growth is the late-stage investment unit of ICONIQ Capital, the private office of some of tech’s most prominent people, including Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey. And Wells Fargo again backed Norwest Venture Partners with $3 billion for its 17th vehicle, TechCrunch reported last month.

Whether or not Thiel is still involved, LPs may just not be as excited about Valar’s latest fund as they once were. 

“They raised too many funds and haven’t returned enough capital to their investors,” said an LP who asked to remain anonymous. “Their actual return on capital to investors has been very low. I would say outright poor.”

Like all VC funds, Valar has had its share of misses. The firm bet on cryptolender BlockFi which filed for Chapter 11 amid the crypto winter of 2022. Valar invested in Breather, which provided workspace on demand. After it raised $127 million, it sold its assets for a mere $3 million in 2021

Valar also backed German insuretech Coya. After raising $40 million in total funding, Coya sold to French-based insurance startup Luko in an all-stock deal in 2022. Then, a year later, Luko, which had raised about €72 million in funding, was placed in a receivership and finally sold to Allianz for €4.3 million earlier this year. 

Valar’s biggest success so far appears to be Wise, which debuted on the London Stock Exchange in 2021 with a market cap of $11 billion. The firm first backed the money transfer company during its Series A in 2013. The firm’s current portfolio companies also include Robinhood-competitor Stash, which was valued in 2021 at $1.4 billion, and crypto exchange Bitpanda, last valued at $4 billion. 

Many of its other investments are too young to call, like Majority, a digital bank for U.S. migrants, which has done a series of Series B extensions, but is, it tells TechCrunch, close to profitability. 

While Valar’s actual performance across all of its funds is not public information, therefore difficult to obtain, the firm’s 2020 vintage fund is so far down -2.3% in internal rate of return (IRR), according to public records from Pennsylvania Public School Employees Retirement (PSERS), one of Valar’s LPs. But it’s too soon to draw conclusions on the success of this fund, which is only three years old. Private funds typically take 10 years to mature, and this one covers the particularly awful period in venture where valuations hit unsustainable highs in 2021 then cratered in 2022. 

Valar, named after deities in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” (Thiel just about always names his companies after “The Lord of the Rings” characters), was initially focused on backing startups in New Zealand. But it quickly expanded beyond the small country to back companies based in Europe, the U.K. and the SF Bay Area, even though at one point Valar claimed to focus only on startups outside Silicon Valley. Today it says it specializes in fintech startups worldwide.



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2023 Dailycrunch. & Managed by Shade Marketing & PR Agency