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Category: Science

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 21, 2022

Episode 488 -Mysteries from the formation of our solar system

From cosmic rays in Antarctica, to chasing Eclipses to learn about stellar weather. Neutrinos are hard to track and detect, as are cosmic rays. Neutrinos suddenly coming out of Antarctica baffled scientists hunting for cosmic rays.  Underground glacial lakes, compacted snow, cosmic can help explain mysterious neutrino emissions. Tracking eclipses and gathering data over 20 years can help us understand stellar weather. By studying the Sun's corona, scientists can better understand the magnetic field and stellar weather. The sun changes activity over 11 year cycles, and it's magnetic field also rearranges itself from highly structured to loose and messy.  

  1. Ian M. Shoemaker, Alexander Kusenko, Peter Kuipers Munneke, Andrew Romero-Wolf, Dustin M. Schroeder, Martin J. Siegert. Reflections on the anomalous ANITA events: the Antarctic subsurface as a possible explanationAnnals of Glaciology, 2020; 1 DOI: 10.1017/aog.2020.19
  2. Benjamin Boe, Shadia Habbal, Miloslav Druckmüller. Coronal Magnetic Field Topology from Total Solar Eclipse ObservationsThe Astrophysical Journal, 2020; 895 (2): 123 DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ab8ae6
May 16, 2022

Episode 483 - Constantly changing moons of Jupiter

Jupiter's moons may be way more dynamic than we previously thought. Europa has the most potential to harbor life outside of Earth, but it's ice sheets may be more Earth like than we imagined. Europa's spectacular double ridges are similar to those found in Greenland. The ice sheets on Europa may not be static and still, but churning. Melting and refreezing could drive exchange between the surface of Europa and it's icey depths. How do you form sand dunes without any wind? Is it possible to form a Dune on Io using just volcanic flows and sulfur snows?

  1. Culberg, R., Schroeder, D.M. & Steinbrügge, G. Double ridge formation over shallow water sills on Jupiter’s moon Europa. Nat Commun, 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-29458-3
  2. George D. McDonald, Joshua Méndez Harper, Lujendra Ojha, Paul Corlies, Josef Dufek, Ryan C. Ewing, Laura Kerber. Aeolian sediment transport on Io from lava–frost interactions. Nature Communications, 2022; 13 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-29682-x
May 9, 2022

Episode 482 - Nova and Micronova not quite super still immensely powerful

Supernova get all the press, but Nova and Micronova are still pretty powerful. White dwarf stars are normally pretty inactive, unless some hydrogen ends up kickstarting them again. Enough helium leeched from a nearby star can ignite the entire surface of a white dwarf. Nova may not destroy the star, but they can create immensely powerful explosions and particles. The right combination of White Dwarf and Red Giant can create powerful particles near the speed of light. Micronova sound small but they are still colossal and brief explosions on white dwarf stars. Not powerful enough to ignite the whole surface of a star, but definitely enough to destroy a planet, micronova are quite deadly.

  1. Scaringi, S., Groot, P.J., Knigge, C. et al. Localized thermonuclear bursts from accreting magnetic white dwarfsNature, 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04495-6
  2. V. A. Acciari, S. Ansoldi, L. A. Antonelli, A. Arbet Engels, M. Artero, K. Asano, D. Baack, A. Babić, A. Baquero, U. Barres de Almeida, J. A. Barrio, I. Batković, J. Becerra González, W. Bednarek, L. Bellizzi, E. Bernardini, M. Bernardos, A. Berti, J. Besenrieder, W. Bhattacharyya, C. Bigongiari, A. Biland, O. Blanch, H. Bökenkamp, G. Bonnoli, Ž. Bošnjak, G. Busetto, R. Carosi, G. Ceribella, M. Cerruti, Y. Chai, A. Chilingarian, S. Cikota, S. M. Colak, E. Colombo, J. L. Contreras, J. Cortina, S. Covino, G. D’Amico, V. D’Elia, P. Da Vela, F. Dazzi, A. De Angelis, B. De Lotto, A. Del Popolo, M. Delfino, J. Delgado, C. Delgado Mendez, D. Depaoli, F. Di Pierro, L. Di Venere, E. Do Souto Espiñeira, D. Dominis Prester, A. Donini, D. Dorner, M. Doro, D. Elsaesser, V. Fallah Ramazani, L. Fariña Alonso, A. Fattorini, M. V. Fonseca, L. Font, C. Fruck, S. Fukami, Y. Fukazawa, R. J. García López, M. Garczarczyk, S. Gasparyan, M. Gaug, N. Giglietto, F. Giordano, P. Gliwny, N. Godinović, J. G. Green, D. Green, D. Hadasch, A. Hahn, T. Hassan, L. Heckmann, J. Herrera, J. Hoang, D. Hrupec, M. Hütten, T. Inada, K. Ishio, Y. Iwamura, I. Jiménez Martínez, J. Jormanainen, L. Jouvin, D. Kerszberg, Y. Kobayashi, H. Kubo, J. Kushida, A. Lamastra, D. Lelas, F. Leone, E. Lindfors, L. Linhoff, S. Lombardi, F. Longo, R. López-Coto, M. López-Moya, A. López-Oramas, S. Loporchio, B. Machado de Oliveira Fraga, C. Maggio, P. Majumdar, M. Makariev, M. Mallamaci, G. Maneva, M. Manganaro, K. Mannheim, L. Maraschi, M. Mariotti, M. Martínez, A. Mas Aguilar, D. Mazin, S. Menchiari, S. Mender, S. Mićanović, D. Miceli, T. Miener, J. M. Miranda, R. Mirzoyan, E. Molina, A. Moralejo, D. Morcuende, V. Moreno, E. Moretti, T. Nakamori, L. Nava, V. Neustroev, M. Nievas Rosillo, C. Nigro, K. Nilsson, K. Nishijima, K. Noda, S. Nozaki, Y. Ohtani, T. Oka, J. Otero-Santos, S. Paiano, M. Palatiello, D. Paneque, R. Paoletti, J. M. Paredes, L. Pavletić, P. Peñil, M. Persic, M. Pihet, P. G. Prada Moroni, E. Prandini, C. Priyadarshi, I. Puljak, W. Rhode, M. Ribó, J. Rico, C. Righi, A. Rugliancich, N. Sahakyan, T. Saito, S. Sakurai, K. Satalecka, F. G. Saturni, B. Schleicher, K. Schmidt, T. Schweizer, J. Sitarek, I. Šnidarić, D. Sobczynska, A. Spolon, A. Stamerra, J. Strišković, D. Strom, M. Strzys, Y. Suda, T. Surić, M. Takahashi, R. Takeishi, F. Tavecchio, P. Temnikov, T. Terzić, M. Teshima, L. Tosti, S. Truzzi, A. Tutone, S. Ubach, J. van Scherpenberg, G. Vanzo, M. Vazquez Acosta, S. Ventura, V. Verguilov, C. F. Vigorito, V. Vitale, I. Vovk, M. Will, C. Wunderlich, T. Yamamoto, D. Zarić, F. Ambrosino, M. Cecconi, G. Catanzaro, C. Ferrara, A. Frasca, M. Munari, L. Giustolisi, J. Alonso-Santiago, M. Giarrusso, U. Munari, P. Valisa. Proton acceleration in thermonuclear nova explosions revealed by gamma raysNature Astronomy, 2022; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-022-01640-z
March 28, 2022

Episode 476 - Capturing interstellar storms and gas

Space isn't 'empty' but is often filled with gas and interstellar wind. Gas flows and moves around our universe forming stars, planets and galaxies, but how does it get there? How can you capture the complex motion of interstellar gas? What connects dragonflies with taking pictures of interstellar gas? Strapping a whole bunch of cameras together can help scientists image the faintest of light. Violent eruptions and messy eating by Neutron stars and black holes can help us understand the way interstellar gas moves in space. When a neutron star devours a planet, the remnants and gas flows can tell us a lot about star formation.

Journal References:

  1. Imad Pasha, Deborah Lokhorst, Pieter G. van Dokkum, Seery Chen, Roberto Abraham, Johnny Greco, Shany Danieli, Tim Miller, Erin Lippitt, Ava Polzin, Zili Shen, Michael A. Keim, Qing Liu, Allison Merritt, Jielai Zhang. A Nascent Tidal Dwarf Galaxy Forming within the Northern H i Streamer of M82. The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 2021; 923 (2): L21 DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ac3ca6
  2. Qing Liu, Roberto Abraham, Colleen Gilhuly, Pieter van Dokkum, Peter G. Martin, Jiaxuan Li, Johnny P. Greco, Deborah Lokhorst, Seery Chen, Shany Danieli, Michael A. Keim, Allison Merritt, Tim B. Miller, Imad Pasha, Ava Polzin, Zili Shen, Jielai Zhang. A Method to Characterize the Wide-angle Point-Spread Function of Astronomical Images. The Astrophysical Journal, 2022; 925 (2): 219 DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ac32c6
  3. N. Castro Segura, C. Knigge, K. S. Long, D. Altamirano, M. Armas Padilla, C. Bailyn, D. A. H. Buckley, D. J. K. Buisson, J. Casares, P. Charles, J. A. Combi, V. A. Cúneo, N. D. Degenaar, S. del Palacio, M. Díaz Trigo, R. Fender, P. Gandhi, M. Georganti, C. Gutiérrez, J. V. Hernandez Santisteban, F. Jiménez-Ibarra, J. Matthews, M. Méndez, M. Middleton, T. Muñoz-Darias, M. Özbey Arabacı, M. Pahari, L. Rhodes, T. D. Russell, S. Scaringi, J. van den Eijnden, G. Vasilopoulos, F. M. Vincentelli, P. Wiseman. A persistent ultraviolet outflow from an accreting neutron star binary transient. Nature, 2022; 603 (7899): 52 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04324-2
February 14, 2022

Episode 470 - Mysteries in our galaxy unearthed by radio telescopes

Radio telescopes cover large areas and can find strange objects lurking in space. From slowly pulsing magnetars to cosmic ray filaments. Surrounding the black hole at the center of the Milky way are strange but regular filament like structures. Cosmic rays electroncs moving near the speed of light are creating regular 'gash' like filaments around the center of the Milky Way. There is a supermassive blackhole at the center of the Milky Way, but it's surrounded by even weirder things. Astronomers deal with 'transients' from slow ones like supernova to fast pulses like Pulsars...but there might be something in between. A new type of stellar object is pulsing three times an hour dumping out huge amounts of radio waves all relatively close to home.

  1. F. Yusef-Zadeh, R. G. Arendt, M. Wardle, I. Heywood, W. Cotton, F. Camilo. Statistical Properties of the Population of the Galactic Center Filaments: the Spectral Index and Equipartition Magnetic FieldThe Astrophysical Journal Letters, 2022; 925 (2): L18 DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ac4802
  2. N. Hurley-Walker, X. Zhang, A. Bahramian, S. J. McSweeney, T. N. O’Doherty, P. J. Hancock, J. S. Morgan, G. E. Anderson, G. H. Heald, T. J. Galvin. A radio transient with unusually slow periodic emissionNature, 2022; 601 (7894): 526 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04272-x
January 3, 2022

Episode 464 - Rogue Planets and glass in meteorites

Rogue planets hurtling across space without a place to call home. How do we detect intergalactic nomads like Rogue planets? Just how many rogue planets are out there? Are there rogue planets lurking in our own solar system? Glass inside meteorites can help us understand early earth. How does meteorite rock differ from rock here on earth? What can we piece together about the cataclysmic events that formed glass inside meteorites? Rapidly heating then even more rapidly cooling coalesced glass inside meteorites.

  1. Núria Miret-Roig, Hervé Bouy, Sean N. Raymond, Motohide Tamura, Emmanuel Bertin, David Barrado, Javier Olivares, Phillip A. B. Galli, Jean-Charles Cuillandre, Luis Manuel Sarro, Angel Berihuete, Nuria Huélamo. A rich population of free-floating planets in the Upper Scorpius young stellar association. Nature Astronomy, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01513-x
  2. Nicole X. Nie, Xin-Yang Chen, Timo Hopp, Justin Y. Hu, Zhe J. Zhang, Fang-Zhen Teng, Anat Shahar, Nicolas Dauphas. Imprint of chondrule formation on the K and Rb isotopic compositions of carbonaceous meteorites. Science Advances, 2021; 7 (49) DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abl3929
December 6, 2021

Episode 460 - What shape is the heliosphere

Just what is the heliosphere and how doe sit work? What shape is the heliosphere (spoiler alert, probably not a sphere). At the very edge of our solar system lies the boundary between our neighborhood and interstellar space. Do outside forces from interstellar space jumble up the heliosphere? Sandwiched between Space and the Earth, the Ionsphere buzzes and hums with a pulsing generator. Winds from earth can bend and shape plasma in our ionsphere to make a generator. Moving a conducting object through a magnetic field can generate electricty, and its happening right now 100km above our heads.

  1. M. Opher, J. F. Drake, G. Zank, E. Powell, W. Shelley, M. Kornbleuth, V. Florinski, V. Izmodenov, J. Giacalone, S. Fuselier, K. Dialynas, A. Loeb, J. Richardson. A Turbulent Heliosheath Driven by the Rayleigh–Taylor InstabilityThe Astrophysical Journal, 2021; 922 (2): 181 DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ac2d2e
  2. Thomas J. Immel, Brian J. Harding, Roderick A. Heelis, Astrid Maute, Jeffrey M. Forbes, Scott L. England, Stephen B. Mende, Christoph R. Englert, Russell A. Stoneback, Kenneth Marr, John M. Harlander, Jonathan J. Makela. Regulation of ionospheric plasma velocities by thermospheric windsNature Geoscience, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41561-021-00848-4
November 15, 2021

Episode 457 - Not so Empty Space near Earth

Space  is big and vast, but whilst not densely packed like in Sci Fi, there's still so much going on around Earth's orbit. Mapping out the local neighborhood around Earth's orbit is tricky but important work. We think we have an idea about most Near Earth Asteroids but occasionally they can sneak up on is. A chip off the old block of the Moon has become one of our newest near Earth Objects. How we clean up space junk without touching it or grabbing it with a rocket? Can magnets help us handle delicate space junk? A satellite spiraling out of control is not an easy object to tame and de-orbit.

  1. Benjamin N. L. Sharkey, Vishnu Reddy, Renu Malhotra, Audrey Thirouin, Olga Kuhn, Albert Conrad, Barry Rothberg, Juan A. Sanchez, David Thompson, Christian Veillet. Lunar-like silicate material forms the Earth quasi-satellite (469219) 2016 HO3 KamoʻoalewaCommunications Earth & Environment, 2021; 2 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s43247-021-00303-7
  2. Lan N. Pham, Griffin F. Tabor, Ashkan Pourkand, Jacob L. B. Aman, Tucker Hermans, Jake J. Abbott. Dexterous magnetic manipulation of conductive non-magnetic objectsNature, 2021; 598 (7881): 439 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03966-6
November 1, 2021

Episode 455 - Growing rocket fuel on Mars and greener jet fuel on earth

Growing rocket fuel on the surface of Mars, and greener jet fuel here on earth. The problem with space travel is you have to take everything with you. Including fuel. Is there a way to grow your own fuel to make the load lighter on a rocket? A round trip to Mars needs billions of dollars of fuel. Is there a way we can reduce cost and energy by producing rocket fuel on the surface of Mars? How can you grow rocket fuel on mars using microbes? Would the same rocket fuel you use on Earth make sense to use on Mars? How can we clean up the aviation industry's carbon emissions? Are there alternative jet fuels that don't come at the expense of growing food? Bio-fuels are often produced at the expense of food, but are there alternatives that are win win? 

  1. Nicholas S. Kruyer, Matthew J. Realff, Wenting Sun, Caroline L. Genzale, Pamela Peralta-Yahya. Designing the bioproduction of Martian rocket propellant via a biotechnology-enabled in situ resource utilization strategyNature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-26393-7
  2. Asiful Alam, Md Farhad Hossain Masum, Puneet Dwivedi. Break-even price and carbon emissions of carinata-based sustainable aviation fuel production in the Southeastern United StatesGCB Bioenergy, 2021 DOI: 10.1111/.1gcbb2888
October 18, 2021

Episode 453 - The early days of our solar system

Studying the earliest days of our solar system by looking at meteorites. We don't have to travel to asteroids or dwarf planets in order to study their geology. By studying meteorites we can piece together the mystery behind the formation of our solar system. Asteroids seem to be 'missing' mantle like rock, so how can we find it by studying meteorites? Some meteorites can capture like a time capsule pieces from our early solar system. Some of this leftover bits from the early days of our solar system contain raw pieces from other stars. Sometimes in meteorites you can find matter that has traveled all the way from other stars.

  1. Nan Liu, Barosch Jens, Larry R. Nittler, Conel M. O'D. Alexander, Jianhua Wang, Sergio Cristallo, Maurizio Busso, and Sara Palmerini. New multielement isotopic compositions of presolar SiC grains: implications for their stellar originsThe Astrophysical Journal Letters, 2021 DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ac260b
  2. Zoltan Vaci, James M. D. Day, Marine Paquet, Karen Ziegler, Qing-Zhu Yin, Supratim Dey, Audrey Miller, Carl Agee, Rainer Bartoschewitz, Andreas Pack. Olivine-rich achondrites from Vesta and the missing mantle problemNature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-25808-9
  3. Meng-Hua Zhu, Alessandro Morbidelli, Wladimir Neumann, Qing-Zhu Yin, James M. D. Day, David C. Rubie, Gregory J. Archer, Natalia Artemieva, Harry Becker, Kai Wünnemann. Common feedstocks of late accretion for the terrestrial planetsNature Astronomy, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01475-0
August 9, 2021

Episode 443 - Strange chemistry, ice, life and moons

Moons across our solar system have rich chemistry that may harbor life. Ganymede may have more water in it's 'oceans' than Earth. The makeup of Ganymede may include layers of ice, oceans and even water vapor atmospheres. Piecing together data from Hubble, Galileo and Juno to help crack the mystery of Ganymede's atmosphere. Melting ice on Ganymede's surface could explain the odd atmosphere. Enceladus has great geysers but they contain more methane than we can explain...unless we consider biological systems. Enceladus has many mysteries beneath it's ice, but could geothermal vents help explain whats in it's geysers? Cassini did a daring flyby through Enceladus' geysers, but they were filled with many things we did not expect.

  1. Lorenz Roth, Nickolay Ivchenko, G. Randall Gladstone, Joachim Saur, Denis Grodent, Bertrand Bonfond, Philippa M. Molyneux, Kurt D. Retherford. A sublimated water atmosphere on Ganymede detected from Hubble Space Telescope observations. Nature Astronomy, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01426-9
  2. Antonin Affholder, François Guyot, Boris Sauterey, Régis Ferrière, Stéphane Mazevet. Bayesian analysis of Enceladus’s plume data to assess methanogenesis. Nature Astronomy, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01372-6
July 5, 2021

Episode 438 - Super fast and dense White Dwarfs and odd Supernova

What happens at the end of a star's life if it doesn't go out with a bang? White dwarfs are the end stage for 97% of stars, but can they still go 'nova? What happens if two white dwarf stars merge together? Rotating once every 7 minutes with a magnetic field billions times stronger than the Sun, super dense white dwarfs break all the records. There are many types of supernova, but which one happened at the Crab Nebula in 1054? What happens if a star isn't quite heavy enough to have an iron core supernova? Electrons are so tiny compared to a supergiant star, but if they're taken away it can lead to a supernova.

  1. Caiazzo, I., Burdge, K.B., Fuller, J. et al. A highly magnetized and rapidly rotating white dwarf as small as the MoonNature, 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03615-y
  2. Daichi Hiramatsu, D. Andrew Howell, Schuyler D. Van Dyk, Jared A. Goldberg, Keiichi Maeda, Takashi J. Moriya, Nozomu Tominaga, Ken’ichi Nomoto, Griffin Hosseinzadeh, Iair Arcavi, Curtis McCully, Jamison Burke, K. Azalee Bostroem, Stefano Valenti, Yize Dong, Peter J. Brown, Jennifer E. Andrews, Christopher Bilinski, G. Grant Williams, Paul S. Smith, Nathan Smith, David J. Sand, Gagandeep S. Anand, Chengyuan Xu, Alexei V. Filippenko, Melina C. Bersten, Gastón Folatelli, Patrick L. Kelly, Toshihide Noguchi, Koichi Itagaki. The electron-capture origin of supernova 2018zdNature Astronomy, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01384-2
May 17, 2021

Episode 431 - Super stellar collisions and super computers

Space is really big, but when a collision happens it's incredibly complicated. Studying and predicting collisions between stars is hard even for super computers. How can you speed up the modelling of stellar collisions? A neutron star and a black hole colliding may not be as rare as you think. The collision of two heavyweights could give us the data we need to crack a century old question. The merger of a black hole and a neutron star gives off tremendous amounts of energy and may be more common than we thought. By 2030 we should have enough data captured on LIGO and other instruments to solve Hubble's dilema.

  1. Dominic C Marcello, Sagiv Shiber, Orsola De Marco, Juhan Frank, Geoffrey C Clayton, Patrick M Motl, Patrick Diehl, Hartmut Kaiser. Octo-Tiger: a new, 3D hydrodynamic code for stellar mergers that uses HPX parallelisationMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2021; DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stab937
  2. Stephen M. Feeney, Hiranya V. Peiris, Samaya M. Nissanke, and Daniel J. Mortlock. Prospects for measuring the Hubble constant with neutron-star–black-hole mergersPhys. Rev. Lett. (accepted), 2021 [abstract]
April 26, 2021

Episode 428 - Lightning and Early life on earth

What kicked off early life on earth? Organic chemistry and early life need the right minerals to be present and accessible. What helped unlock early minerals on earth like phosphorous to kick start life? Lightning strikes seem rare, but they're much more frequent than meteorites. Early life on Earth could have been helped along through lightning strikes and meteorites. DNA, RNA and Proteins are locked in a complex dance, but which came first. DNA can't replicate without the help of protein and RNA, so how did we develop DNA in the first place? Is it possible for RNA to replicate on it's own?

  1. Benjamin L. Hess, Sandra Piazolo, Jason Harvey. Lightning strikes as a major facilitator of prebiotic phosphorus reduction on early EarthNature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-21849-2
  2. Alexandra Kühnlein, Simon A Lanzmich, Dieter Braun. tRNA sequences can assemble into a replicatoreLife, 2021; 10 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.63431
March 29, 2021

Episode 424 - Hunting for atmospheres on other planets

Mars was once covered with water, so where did all the water on Mars go? What happened to the water in the Martian atmosphere? Why isn't there an abundance of heavy water in the Martian atmosphere? Water can get trapped inside rocks and minerals without volcanoes to cycle them. Volcanoes and tectonics help sequester, cycle and release water, so what happens on a planet without them? How can we hunt for signs of water atmospheres on exoplanets? On hot rocky exoplanets with oceans of magma, what happens to their hydrogen rich atmospheres?  An atmosphere of of hydrogen can slowly turn and change into water with the help of a magma ocean. 

  1. E. L. Scheller, B. L. Ehlmann, Renyu Hu, D. J. Adams, Y. L. Yung. Long-term drying of Mars by sequestration of ocean-scale volumes of water in the crustScience, 2021; eabc7717 DOI: 10.1126/science.abc7717
  2. Edwin S. Kite, Laura Schaefer. Water on Hot Rocky ExoplanetsThe Astrophysical Journal Letters, 2021; 909 (2): L22 DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/abe7dc
February 22, 2021

Episode 419 - Testing life on Mars here on Earth

Perseverance has landed and begun it's long mission, but how can scientists on Earth help research on Mars? Can we study life on Mars here on Earth? Robotic missions aren't the only way Martian rock has made it's way to Earth. Rare meteorites from Mars can be used to test how life would grow in Martian soil. Just how old is the Jezero crater? Can you date a crater without doing detailed tests? How does measuring lunar craters help us put a date on the age of Martian craters like Jezero?

  1. T. Milojevic, M. Albu, D. Kölbl, G. Kothleitner, R. Bruner, M. Morgan. Chemolithotrophy on the Noachian Martian breccia NWA 7034 via experimental microbial biotransformationCommunications Earth & Environment, 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s43247-021-00105-x
  2. Cassata, W. S., Cohen, B. E., Mark, D. F., Trappitsch, R., Crow, C. A., Wimpenny, J., . . . Smith, C. L. (2018). Chronology of martian breccia nwa 7034 and the formation of the martian crustal dichotomyScience Advances, 4(5). doi:10.1126/sciadv.aap8306
  3. Simone Marchi. A new martian crater chronology: Implications for Jezero craterThe Astronomical Journal, 2021 [abstract]
January 18, 2021

Episode 414 - The active life and dramatic death of galaxies

Can a galaxy really die? What would that even look like? We know that stars can erupt into supernova, form black holes or fade away but what happens to old galaxies? What happens to a galaxy when it looses all it's fuel for growing new stars? Which galaxies are the most active and pulsing with light? Active galaxies often shine vibrantly from their core, but what causes periodic bursts of energy. NASA Goddarrd researchers have discovered the 'Old Faithful' of Galaxies.

  1. Annagrazia Puglisi, Emanuele Daddi, Marcella Brusa, Frederic Bournaud, Jeremy Fensch, Daizhong Liu, Ivan Delvecchio, Antonello Calabrò, Chiara Circosta, Francesco Valentino, Michele Perna, Shuowen Jin, Andrea Enia, Chiara Mancini, Giulia Rodighiero. A titanic interstellar medium ejection from a massive starburst galaxy at redshift 1.4Nature Astronomy, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-020-01268-x
  2. ASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2021, January 12). An 'old faithful' active galaxy: Black hole rips away at star. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 15, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/01/210112125154.htm
December 14, 2020

Episode 409 - Stellar Weather, Life on other planets and Space Dust

What is the space around the sun like? Cold? Hot? Dusty? How does the space around the Sun change over time? Does the Sun suck up dust in the solar system, or blow it out? What can we learn about stellar weather in our neighbouring stars. Red Dwarfs are one of the most common stars in our Galaxy, but also produce lots of flares. Are rocky planets in Red Dwarf's habitable zone safe from stellar weather?

  1. Andrew Zic, Tara Murphy, Christene Lynch, George Heald, Emil Lenc, David L. Kaplan, Iver H. Cairns, David Coward, Bruce Gendre, Helen Johnston, Meredith MacGregor, Danny C. Price, Michael S. Wheatland. A Flare-type IV Burst Event from Proxima Centauri and Implications for Space WeatherThe Astrophysical Journal, 2020; 905 (1): 23 DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/abca90
  2. University of Colorado at Boulder. (2020, December 10). A look at the sun's dusty environment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 10, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/12/201210112131.htm
October 19, 2020

Episode 401 - Space Collisions and cleaning up debris

Dodging collisions faster than a speeding bullet. We look at cleaning up space debris. Explosions and collisions of spaceships is great in sci-fi but bad news for us on Earth. Space is rapidly filling with satellites. What happens to them at the end of their life? Collisions in space (or near misses) are becoming more and more common. How can we clean up space and keep the skies safe for important satellites.

  1. Crane, L. (n.d.). Two old spacecraft just avoided catastrophically colliding in orbit. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://www.newscientist.com/article/2257525-two-old-spacecraft-just-avoided-catastrophically-colliding-in-orbit/
  2. Davenport, C. (2020, October 16). A rocket booster and a dead satellite avoided a collision Thursday, illustrating the 'ticking time bomb' of space debris. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/10/15/space-collision-might-happen-thursday/
  3. Marks, P. (2017, April 18). Satellite swarms could increase space junk risk by 50 per cent. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://www.newscientist.com/article/2128024-satellite-swarms-could-increase-space-junk-risk-by-50-per-cent/
  4. Wall, M. (2019, April 24). Meet OSCaR: Tiny Cubesat Would Clean Up Space Junk. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://www.space.com/space-junk-cleanup-cubesat-oscar.html
  5. Wall, M. (2020, June 23). Foam 'spider webs' from tiny satellites could help clean up space junk. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://www.space.com/space-junk-cleanup-foam-satellite-technology.html
  6. Wells, T. (2019, April 24). Rensselaer team developing tool to battle space debris. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-rensselaer-team-tool-space-debris.html
August 31, 2020

Episode 394 - Travelling through time with telescopes

Telescopes can help us travel back in time to the early universe. We can watch galaxies form, the universe have a makeover and giant black holes appear. Using different telescopes we can learn about the cosmic dawn and the cosmic noon. The early universe was hazy and hard for light to travel far. What gave the early universe a makeover to allow starlight to travel? What fed the super hungry super massive black-holes of the early universe? Where did the early black holes find enough food to make them swell to massive sizes? What can we learn from the cosmic noon when most of the stars in the universe were formed? 

  1. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2020, January 6). Astronomers spot distant galaxy group driving ancient cosmic makeover. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 11, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200106141610.htm
  2. Emanuele Paolo Farina, Fabrizio Arrigoni-Battaia, Tiago Costa, Fabian Walter, Joseph F. Hennawi, Alyssa B. Drake, Roberto Decarli, Thales A. Gutcke, Chiara Mazzucchelli, Marcel Neeleman, Iskren Georgiev, Anna-Christina Eilers, Frederick B. Davies, Eduardo Bañados, Xiaohui Fan, Masafusa Onoue, Jan-Torge Schindler, Bram P. Venemans, Feige Wang, Jinyi Yang, Sebastian Rabien, Lorenzo Busoni. The REQUIEM Survey. I. A Search for Extended Lyα Nebular Emission Around 31 z > 5.7 Quasars. The Astrophysical Journal, 2019; 887 (2): 196 DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ab5847
  3. T. Mauch et al. The 1.28 GHz MeerKAT DEEP2 Image. The Astrophysical Journal, 2019 [link]