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.
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.