In this Beyond episode, we veer off the traditional path to a PhD with three interviews from early-career astronomers who did things a little bit differently. Tim Holt shares his transitions from zoology to teacher and, finally, to astronomer. Ashley Walker describes how perseverance helped her to realize her dream as Chicago State University’s very first astrochemistry major. Natalia Guerrero paints a story of her journey leaving a graduate program, taking a leadership role on the TESS team, and reentering academia more inspired than ever.
You’ve heard about planets, stars, galaxies, and other “types” of astronomical objects on the show -- but what about the objects that defy our classification schemes? Will discusses how a mysterious system of massive planets(?) came to be, Alex puts on his thinking cap and tells us about the Universe’s biggest hat, and we top it all off with a discussion of the benefits and shortcomings of classifications in astronomy.
Do we have to explore astronomy data with our eyes? What if we used our ears? In this episode, we explore these and other questions in the growing field of sonification. Find out what an interstellar pancake sounds like, discover the piano sonatas of a Martian atmosphere and an unusual stellar explosion, and learn how astronomer Garry Foran at Swinburne University, despite a visual impairment, sees deeper into space than most to study the properties of high-redshift star-forming galaxies. Plus, we announce our sonification contest! We can’t wait to hear what you come up with. Click the link below for details and to submit your audio piece.
In this episode we zip through a flurry of exciting undergraduate research Astrobites. Malena weaves a tale of solar tornadoes and cometary corkscrews, Alex spins a yarn of spiders and snowy telescopes, and Will answers the age-old question of nature versus nurture...for stars. We offer some of our favorite astronomy resources, provide tips on doing a literature search, and lend advice on balancing coursework and research.
Today we pump the gas to get up to speed on the hypervelocity objects of our universe. Alex divulges how hypervelocity stars tell us about their black hole origins, Will discusses a beehive of stars marching to the tune of its own drummer, and Malena shares plans for our first shot at reaching another stellar system.
It’s a harsh world out there, as the gang learns by trekking out to observe accretion in the wild. Will peers through his simulation binoculars to see whether tidal disruption events can really satisfy a hungry black hole, and Malena grabs her spectroscopic scalpel to pick apart a white dwarf’s last meal. Plus, we learn a few life lessons from planetesimals.
In this episode, we’re blown back and blown away by the solar wind. Will offers a historical overview of how Eugene Parker discovered the solar wind without running a single experiment. Malena covers early results and next steps for the eponymous and incredibly hot Parker Solar Probe, as it ~enters the Sun~. Postdoc Chris Spalding also discusses Mercury’s (literally) impactful and (solar) windy childhood.
We were going to write show notes, but it’s been a little while since we recorded and we forgot what we talked about. I guess you could call our memory…. transient! In this episode we discuss some of the quickest, most high-energy astrophysical phenomena in the Universe. Will describes a possible explanation for some of the speediest and most mysterious flashes of energy ever detected, while Alex describes a bizarre and brilliant stellar explosion.
We’re starting off the new year right by getting ahead of the curve! In this topsy-turvy episode, we tackle the stretching and curving of non-Euclidean geometry -- where it came from, why it teaches us about black holes and the shape of the universe, and how conformal diagrams help us wrap our minds (and our spacetime) around it all. Alex amazes with ascending audio, Will gives the all-clear to keep eating Pringles and Malena explains how theorists can help save trees.
Ever experience the last rays of sunlight sparkling across the ocean? In this episode, PhD student Michael Heslar tells us how we can use this twinkling across the methane seas of Titan to study waves, winds, and much more. Plus, Alex brings us an Astrobite using shimmering starlight to help you find your next exoplanet vacation destination!