How do we figure out the masses of astronomical objects far too large to fit on any human-made scale? In this episode, Alex tracks the paths of planets to figure out which ones are winning a gravitational game of tug-of-war, while Will describes a mysterious little galaxy that seems to be missing a key component. And, you won’t want to miss our spectacular sonification contest runner-up from Tharindu Jayasinghe, who brought to sound the most extreme heartbeat star known to date!
We’re back from vacation! We play 2 truths and a lie about what we did this summer and learn that the truth might be subjective. Alex brings a BBQ-themed Astrobite about the brightest galaxies, teaching us that “astronomical Hot DOG” is a state of being. Malena discusses how planets vacation to the outer solar system (spoiler: they never return home).
Billions of years before Van Gogh put paint to canvas and immortalized them forever, the stars in the sky were nothing more than an intricate tangle of magnetic fields and swirling gas. Turn the clock back with us as we learn about the physics of these protostellar systems! Northwestern/CIERA postdoctoral associate Erin G. Cox teaches us about the polarization patterns of Class 0 and Class I systems, and Will gets all turbulated as he discovers how HII regions might drive star formation.
Tired of vacations being ruined by cloudy weather? Alex the travel agent can book your next trip to brown dwarf binary 1416B, where it’s always a balmy 2000 degrees and never cloudy. Or maybe a sojourn to a hot Jupiter is more your style? Malena the meteorologist has you covered with your 10-million year forecast: cloudy and lopsided. In recognition of Juneteenth and the start of #BlackInAstro week, both papers featured in this episode were led by Black astronomers.
In this episode, we discuss the varied methods used to determine stellar ages. Alex shares how planetary companions can slow the spin of twirling stars, Will compares the spectroscopic fingerprints of binary systems (thanks, Barium!), and Malena provides some peaceful pulsations to enjoy on your next afternoon walk.
How can astronomers study something that nobody has ever seen? In this episode, we switch to the dark side to shine a light on one of the biggest questions in all of astrophysics: the nature of dark matter. Malena teaches us how dark matter helps galaxy clusters glow up, and Will takes a journey to the center of the Earth to find prehistoric prints from a big WIMP. Plus, Alex brings us our most romantic space sound yet.
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.