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Category: Science & Medicine

A fun take on the latest science news with enough data to sink your teeth into. Lagrange Point goes beyond the glossy summary and gets in depth with the research from across the world.

June 3, 2019

Episode 329 - Mysteries from the formation of our solar systems

There are many things we don't understand from the formation of our solar system. Why did Jupiter end up with weird asymmetrical groupings of asteroids around it? Is there a region of dust free space around the sun? If there is why can't we find it? What caused the beautiful rings of dust millions of kms wide around Venus and Mercury? Where did that dust come from? All these questions and more as we unpack the hidden parts of our solar system.


  1. Petr Pokorný, Marc Kuchner. Co-orbital Asteroids as the Source of Venus's Zodiacal Dust Ring. The Astrophysical Journal, 2019; 873 (2): L16 DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ab0827
  2. S. Pirani, A. Johansen, B. Bitsch, A.J. Mustill, D. Turrini. Consequences of planetary migration on the minor bodies of the early solar system. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2019; DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201833713
April 29, 2019

Episode 324 - Hunting for missing matter, gravitational waves and stellar deaths

Hunting for missing dark matter or gravitational waves involves incredibly precise measurements. Scientists are constantly developing new measurement techniques to try and find new sources of data and test theories. Whether it be staring at the space between Andromeda and the Milky Way to find primordial black holes, to looking in the remnants of a white dwarf using spectroscopy. Plus ways to make the newer generation of gravitational wave detectors more accurate by listening to quantum noise.


  1. Hiroko Niikura, Masahiro Takada, Naoki Yasuda, Robert H. Lupton, Takahiro Sumi, Surhud More, Toshiki Kurita, Sunao Sugiyama, Anupreeta More, Masamune Oguri, Masashi Chiba. Microlensing constraints on primordial black holes with Subaru/HSC Andromeda observations. Nature Astronomy, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-019-0723-1
  2. Christopher J. Manser, Boris T. Gänsicke, Siegfried Eggl, Mark Hollands, Paula Izquierdo, Detlev Koester, John D. Landstreet, Wladimir Lyra, Thomas R. Marsh, Farzana Meru, Alexander J. Mustill, Pablo Rodríguez-Gil, Odette Toloza, Dimitri Veras, David J. Wilson, Matthew R. Burleigh, Melvyn B. Davies, Jay Farihi, Nicola Gentile Fusillo, Domitilla De Martino, Steven G. Parsons, Andreas Quirrenbach, Roberto Raddi, Sabine Reffert, Melania Del Santo, Matthias R. Schreiber, Roberto Silvotti, Silvia Toonen,†, Eva Villaver, Mark Wyatt, Siyi Xu, Simon Portegies Zwart. A planetesimal orbiting within the debris disc around a white dwarf star. Science, 2019 DOI: 10.1126/science.aat5330
  3. Jonathan Cripe, Nancy Aggarwal, Robert Lanza, Adam Libson, Robinjeet Singh, Paula Heu, David Follman, Garrett D. Cole, Nergis Mavalvala, Thomas Corbitt. Measurement of quantum back action in the audio band at room temperature. Nature, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1051-4


April 15, 2019

Episode 322 - Imaging strange objects in space (and on earth)

Taking images of strange objects in space is incredibly complicated and requires both large telescopes, and even larger teams of scientists to pour over the data. Techniques, codes and algorithms to sift through that data to find the unusual patterns is an incredibly difficult and challenging task. However with it we can capture some incredible things whether it be images of black holes, to asteroids literally spinning themselves apart, or even missing endangered species here on earth.


  1. Iowa State University. (2019, March 27). Data flows from NASA's TESS Mission, leads to discovery of Saturn-sized planet. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 13, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190327174701.htm
  2. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2019, March 28). Hubble watches spun-up asteroid coming apart. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 13, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190328112601.htm
  3. British Ecological Society. (2019, April 9). Astro-ecology: Counting orangutans using star-spotting technology: A collaboration between astrophysicists, conservationists and ecologists aims to save rare and endangered animals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 13, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190409083245.htm


February 25, 2019

Episode 315 - Asteroids, meteorites and the destruction of moons

It's easy to think of the solar system as a static object that's always been there. But by studying asteroids, meteorites and moons we can piece together the often violent and dramatic history of our solar system. From Earth being bombarded by water bearing asteroids, to moons being broken apart and reformed around Neptune. We even follow up on some of the great work done by JAXA and the Hyabusa 2 mission. This week we look at some of the latest research into our solar system by studying the smallest often overlooked pieces.


  1. Josep M. Trigo-Rodríguez, Albert Rimola, Safoura Tanbakouei, Victoria Cabedo Soto, Martin Lee. Accretion of Water in Carbonaceous Chondrites: Current Evidence and Implications for the Delivery of Water to Early EarthSpace Science Reviews, 2019; 215 (1) DOI: 10.1007/s11214-019-0583-0
  2. Rincon, P. (2019, February 21). Hayabusa-2: Japan mission set to 'bite an asteroid'. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47293317
  3. M. R. Showalter, I. de Pater, J. J. Lissauer, R. S. French. The seventh inner moon of NeptuneNature, 2019; 566 (7744): 350 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-0909-9
January 28, 2019

Episode 311 - Stellar deaths, black holes, white dwarf accomplices and crystal stars

What happens when a star dies? We can investigate what is left behind at the scene of the crime to piece together the final moments of a star. Some become white dwarfs so cold and cool they crystallize with thick oxygen and carbon skins. Others collapse in on themselves becoming supernova in a catastrophic core collapse. But sometimes in complex binary systems there is an accomplice that pushes the star over the edge, into supernova territory. Plus super massive black holes can devour passing stars, but sometimes they have a little help.

  1. Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay, Gilles Fontaine, Nicola Pietro Gentile Fusillo, Bart H. Dunlap, Boris T. Gänsicke, Mark A. Hollands, J. J. Hermes, Thomas R. Marsh, Elena Cukanovaite, Tim Cunningham. Core crystallization and pile-up in the cooling sequence of evolving white dwarfs. Nature, 2019; 565 (7738): 202 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0791-x
  2. Graham ML et al. Delayed Circumstellar Interaction for Type Ia SN 2015cp Revealed by an HST Ultraviolet Imaging Survey. The Astrophysical Journal, 2019
  3. Dheeraj R. Pasham, Ronald A. Remillard, P. Chris Fragile, Alessia Franchini, Nicholas C. Stone, Giuseppe Lodato, Jeroen Homan, Deepto Chakrabarty, Frederick K. Baganoff, James F. Steiner, Eric R. Coughlin, Nishanth R. Pasham. A loud quasi-periodic oscillation after a star is disrupted by a massive black hole. Science, Jan. 9, 2019; DOI: 10.1126/science.aar7480
January 14, 2019

Episode 309 - Mysterious signals from outside our galaxy!

Space is filled with incredibly strange objects, from black holes to neutron stars. In the right conditions these strange stellar objects create incredibly powerful radio bursts which give radio astronomers a treasure trove of data. From the WOW! Signal to Pulsars we recap the history of strange space signals, and we look at the modern hunt for Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) and how the CHIME observatory in Canada is shedding light on this mystery.

  1. CHIME FRB Collaboration. Observations of fast radio bursts at frequencies down to 400 megahertzNature, 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0867-7
  2. CHIME FRB Collaboration. A second source of repeating fast radio burstsNature, 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0864-x
  3. Mann, Adam (28 March 2017). "Core Concept: Unraveling the enigma of fast radio bursts"Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A114 (13): 3269–3271. Bibcode:2017PNAS..114.3269Mdoi:10.1073/pnas.1703512114PMC 5380068PMID 28351957.
December 17, 2018

Episode 305 - Reaching space, the darkside of the moon and wet asteroids

It's been a busy week in space news from Virgin Galactic finally reaching space, to wet asteroids and even a mystery in space. We find out about the latest missions to investigate surprisingly damp asteroids by JAXA and NASA. We recap the swirling controversy around a mysterious hole in the Soyuz spacecraft, plus the latest on Chang'e-4's journey to the dark side of the moon.

  1. Antczak, J. (n.d.). Virgin Galactic tourism rocket ship reaches space in test. Retrieved from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-virgin-galactic-rocket-ship-space.html
  2. Jones, A. (2018, December 12). Chang'e-4 spacecraft enters lunar orbit ahead of first-ever far side landing. Retrieved from https://spacenews.com/change-4-spacecraft-enters-lunar-orbit-ahead-of-first-ever-far-side-landing/
  3. Yamaguchi, M. (n.d.). Photos from Japan space rovers show rocky asteroid surface. Retrieved from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-photos-japan-space-rovers-rocky.html
  4. Materials provided by University of Arizona. Original written by Erin Morton/OSIRIS-REx and Daniel Stolte. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
November 12, 2018

Episode 300 - Once in a blue asteroid, hidden objects in the Lagrange Point

In our 300th episode we return to our roots, the Lagrange Point. We find out about some odd objects hanging out at Earth's Lagrange Point, and how satellites can survive fierce solar storms only to be undone by a stiff breeze. Plus something rarer than a blue moon, a blue asteroid!

  1. Judit Slíz-Balogh, András Barta, Gábor Horváth. Celestial mechanics and polarization optics of the Kordylewski dust cloud in the Earth–Moon Lagrange point L5 – Part II. Imaging polarimetric observation: new evidence for the existence of Kordylewski dust cloudMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2019; 482 (1): 762 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/sty2630
  2. Richard B. Horne, Mark W. Phillips, Sarah A. Glauert, Nigel P. Meredith, Alex D. P. Hands, Keith A. Ryden, Wen Li. Realistic Worst Case for a Severe Space Weather Event Driven by a Fast Solar Wind Stream. Space Weather, 2018; DOI: 10.1029/2018SW001948
  3. University of Arizona. (2018, October 29). Rare blue asteroid reveals itself during fly-by. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 9, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181029152849.htm