The Star Spot

Feature Guest: Jo-Anne Brown

We all know the Earth has a magnetic field, but it might surprise you to learn that our galaxy has one too. To help us understand the origin of our galactic magnetic field and how cosmic magnetism effects the galaxies in our universe, today we're joined at The star spot by Professor Jo-Anne Brown

Current in Space

54.6 million kilometres to Mars. What could go wrong? A hell of a lot, Anuj tells us. Then Tony explains how an unprecedented image of an infant solar system may give us insights into the uniqueness of our home. And finally, Dave says we can learn about the origin of Earth's water... from a white dwarf?

About Our Guest

 

Dr. Jo-Anne Brown is Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary. She is involved in the Canadian contribution to the Square Kilometer Array, a radio telescope project which when operational in 2020 will study cosmic magnetism with 50 times our current level of sensitivity. Dr. Brown was a member of the galactic and solar science team for the Planck satellite, a European Space Agency space observatory that was active from 2009 to 2013 and was made famous by its shockingly precise map of the cosmic microwave background.

 

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Episode77-Jo-AnneBrown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST

Feature Guest: Raymond Carlberg

When finally operational in 2018 the Thirty Metre Telescope will be the largest telescope ever built, three times larger than the best telescopes operating today. To help us understand how the Thirty Metre Telescope will revolutionize astronomy and cosmology, fuel the study of dark matter and dark energy, further our search for life beyond the solar system, and, simply put, allow us see the limits of the known universe, today we're joined at the star spot by Professor Raymond Carlberg.

Current in Space

We're all familiar with Jupiter's Great Red Spot. Now Tony tells us about Saturday's Great White Spot. And James Bond meets astronomy as Dave documents the transfer of two Hubble class space telescopes from spying on enemy nations to exploring the depths of space. 

About Our Guest

 

Raymond Carlberg is Professor of Astronomy at the University of Toronto, having previously held visiting faculty positions at Johns Hopkins University, Caltech, the University of Washington (Seattle), and the Carnegie Institution.  He is a member of the National Research Council Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics Advisory Board, a Senior Fellow for the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.  Prof. Carlberg is working on the deepest sky survey yet using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Episode76-Thirty_Metre_Telescope.mp3
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Feature Guest: Marc Kamionkowski

When we study the cosmic microwave background we see our universe before its infancy. But we learn about today’s biggest mysteries, like gravitational waves and supersymmetric dark matter.

Professor Marc Kamionkowski has won a top prize in cosmology for showing us how to “read the subtle bumps and swirls in our images of the early universe” and he joins me at The Star Spot to share secrets from the dawn of time.

Current in Space

Anuj shares discovery of organics in protoplanetary disks of newly formed solar systems. Then following trailers for the upcoming Star Wars film, Tony explains that Tatooine like rocky worlds with twin suns may be out there in the galaxy. Dave shocks us with the possibility of moon caves deep under the lunar surface. And Laura reports that Chiron, a minor planet between Saturn and Uranus known as a centaur, was found to contain rings. 

About Our Guest

Marc Kamionkowski is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University, previously at the The California Institute of Technology. He was awarded the US Department of Energy's 2006 E. O. Lawrence Award in High Energy and Nuclear Physics as well as the  the Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics from the American Astronomical society and the American Institute of Physics. His research interests include particle physics, dark matter, inflation, the cosmic microwave background and gravitational waves.

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Ep75-Marc_Kamionkowski.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST

Feature Guest: David Brain

When our solar system was young, newborn Earth and Mars were like siblings, similar in climate, water composition and atmosphere. But it turns out 4.5 billion years can change things between two planets.

Today I’m joined at The Star Spot by Professor David Brain to help us understand how Mars ended up so different from Earth, where the Red Planet is headed and what all this means for our search for life.  

Current in Space

A 345 year old mysterious stellar event could finally be solved, Anuj explains. Then Dave describes the influential role played by Jupiter when a time long ago Earth survived an attack from the giant.

About Our Guest

Professor David Brain is Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences. He is co-investigator for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission science team. Scientists hope MAVEN, which arrived at the Red Planet September 2014, will explain where all the Martian atmosphere has gone.

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Ep74-DavidBrain.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST

Feature Guest: Christian Ott

What do all massive stars have in common. They go boom. Today I’m joined at The Star Spot by Professor Christian Ott. Behind Ott’s highly technical work in numerical relativity and nuclear astrophysics is his love affair with things that explode. 

And could the missing pulsar population at the centre of the milky way be explained by, of all things, dark matter? From supernovae, hypernovae and gamma ray bursts to Professor Ott’s self-described “crackpot theory,” you’ll be blown away.

Current in Space

Ganymede has now been added to the short but tantalizing list of moons harbouring internal oceans, following the discovery that the solar system’s largest moon may contain more water than the oceans of Earth. Plus an update on the Dawn spacecraft’s mission to probe the solar system’s early years as it arrival at the dwarf planet Ceres. 

About Our Guest

Professor Christian Ott is computational and theoretical Astrophysicist at Caltech. He received his PhD from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics before performing his postdoctoral work at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics at the University of Arizona. He was a 2012-2014 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow. Professor Ott’s diverse research areas include black holes, neutron stars, supernovae and the hunt for gravitational waves.

Direct download: TheStarSpot_Ep73_ChristianOtt.mp3
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Feature Guest: Kevin Shortt

In the second part of their conversation on the international state of space exploration, Kevin Shortt and Justin Trottier tour the globe. They explore the contributions coming from the four corners of our world. China has high ambitions, but can they succeed by going it alone? How do the geopolitical challenges for Israel provide it with unique opportunities? What consequences will a return to a quasi-Cold War state have for international relations between NASA, Russia and the European Space Agency? And as new nations become major players how will our efforts to explore the unknown change in 2015 and beyond? 

Current in Space

With news of the chemical simulations of a cell membrane unlike anything we've ever seen, Anuj asks whether we have the capabilities of searching for life as we don't know it. 

About Our Guest

Kevin Shortt has worked in the space industry since 1996 and has participated in some of Canada’s largest space missions. He was Mission Planner for the RADARSAT-1 program at the Canadian Space Agency and a member of the design team responsible for the lidar instrument on board NASA’s Mars Phoenix Scout mission. He currently works at the Institute for Communication and Navigation at the German Aerospace Center in optical communications. Kevin served as President for the Canadian Space Society from 2008 until 2012 and is currently its International Relations Officer.

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Ep72-KevinShortt-Part2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST

Feature Guest: Kevin Shortt

It’s a year that saw ups, such as the Dawn mission which became the first to study a dwarf planet. It was a year that experienced downs, like the tragic explosion of SpaceShipTwo and questions over the incident’s implication for space tourism. Through the ups and downs 2014 has been one fascinating year for space exploration. For a retrospective on the year that was, and a look at what’s on the horizon in 2015, today i’m joined at The Star Spot by Kevin shortt, the International Relations Officer for the Canadian Space Society.

And on the next episode Kevin Shortt will rejoin me here at The Star Spot for an international survey of the world’s contribution to space exploration. As new nations become major players how will our efforts to explore the unknown change in 2015 and beyond. 

Current in Space

Tony and Anuj both wax poetic. Tony explains how the door has just opened on the road to Europa, Jupiter's ocean world and a candidate int he search for life. Then Anuj on the very long road of Voyager, 40 years travelling and just getting started.

About Our Guest

Kevin Shortt has worked in the space industry since 1996 and has participated in some of Canada’s largest space missions. He was Mission Planner for the RADARSAT-1 program at the Canadian Space Agency and a member of the design team responsible for the lidar instrument on board NASA’s Mars Phoenix Scout mission. He currently works at the Institute for Communication and Navigation at the German Aerospace Center in optical communications. Kevin served as President for the Canadian Space Society from 2008 until 2012 and is currently its International Relations Officer.

Direct download: TheStarSpot_Ep71_2014AnAmazingYearInSpaceExploration.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST

Feature Guests: Aaron Sigut and Carol Jones 

The disks of matter that form around mysterious B emission stars are providing astronomers with a unique place to study a ubiquitous phenomenon in our universe. Disks are everywhere and on every scale, from the birth of solar systems to the structure of galaxies. Today we’re joined here at The Star Spot by Carol Jones and Aaron Sigut to conclude our two part series on dynamic and lively B emission stars and the disks that excite them.

Current in Space 

Why did asteroid belt member Ceres never form into a fully fledged planet? That's what Dawn may soon find out when it arrives next month. Is the moon the 8th continent? Anuj explains how mining is getting closer to reaching the final frontier. And worried about aging? Dave shares the discovery of an 11 billion year old planet, still alive and well.  

About Our Guests

Let’s pick up where we let off with our two guests from Western University. Dr. Carol Jones is Associate Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies in the Faculty of Science, as well as associate professor and associate dean in the physics and astronomy department. Aaron Sigut is Associate Professor of Astronomy in the Physics and Astronomy Department.

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Episode70-CircumstellarDiskPart2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST

Feature Guests: Aaron Sigut and Carol Jones

Disks are ubiquitous in our universe. They are found in the spiral arms of galaxies. They are found among new and old stars, whether in the protoplanetary gas associated with stellar births or the black holes which follow many stellar deaths.

Today we have a special treat. I’m excited to be joined by both Carol Jones and Aaron Sigut here at The Star Spot for the first of a special two-part series. We’ll find out why disks are such common features of our universe, and how they figure prominently into a mysterious phenomenon known as B emission stars, which are among the hottest, most energetic and most mysterious of stellar phenomena.

Current in Space

Dave reports the probability of exoplanet habitability may have just increased significantly with scientists rethinking the once assumed life-preventing effect of planetary tidal locking. Then Laura explains the famous Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula seem to be eroding away, and may have already vanished. Anuj shares new evidence that the asteroid which wiped out the dinosaurs was a truly global event. And has Beagle 2 been resurrected? Celine with new images from Mars that are shining light on the tragic fate of a spacecraft whose trip was no more smooth than that of its namesake.

About Our Guest

Today two distinguished astronomy scholars from Western University are joining us here at The Star Spot. Dr. Carol Jones is Associate Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies in the Faculty of Science. Aaron Sigut is Associate Professor of Astronomy in the Physics and Astronomy Department. They both share research interests in circumstellar disks around hot stars, which we will get into in a series of conversations with both academics.

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Episode69-Dynamic_Stars_and_Ubiquitous_Disks-Part1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST

Feature Guest: Jayanne English

 

We've all been blown away by those jaw dropping majestic images of the cvosmos. But would you feel deceived to know that few of those images show what the eye would truly see? Today guest host Dave Kirsch welcomes Professor Jayanne English at The Star Spot to discuss the tension between art and science in astronomy.

Current in Space

Dave alerts us to the likelihood of future collisions between our sun and its nearby stellar neighbours, explaing why a near miss can still make a big impact. The debate about the status of Pluto is sure to heat up as Tony reports on the New Horizons mission which recently came out of hibernation in preparation for its final approach to the dward planet. And Anuj shares new insights into the cause of mysterious high altitude aurora.

About Our Guest

Jayanne English is Professor in the department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manitoba. Her interests are in the origin of structure in galaxies, including galactic halos. She held a post-doctoral position at the Space Telescope Science Institute and was Visitor at Oxford University (2013) and Visiting Scholar at the Australian National University (2009). She is also highly involved in merging the arts and the sciences through astronomical imagery. Professor English led an interactive art project in honour of the Internal year of Astronomy entitled Seeing is Believing.

Direct download: TheStarSpot_Episode68_JayanneEnglish.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST