The Star Spot

Feature Guest: William Sparks

Extraterrestrial life might be erupting into space from the surface of Europa. And a NASA mission to the icy world could fly right through it. Today I’m joined here at The Star Spot by William Sparks, whose team discovered evidence for water vapour geysers on Jupiter’s fascinating moon. 

Current in Space

Europa. Enceladus. Titan. Meet the newest ocean world: Saturn's moon Dione. Then just as we are coming to terms with an accelerating universe, astronomers suddenly announce we may have gotten worked up over nothing. 

About Our Guest

William Sparks has been an astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland since his days as a postdoc in 1986. He is currently the Deputy Division Head for the Instruments Division and a member of the Advanced Camera for Surveys Instrument Definition Team (ACS IDT). His research focuses on active galaxies, radio galaxies, X-ray emission in galaxy clusters, and astrobiology.

Direct download: The_Star_Spot_Episode_112_-_Geysers_on_Europa.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

Feature Guest: Shawn Bishop

We’ve long known we’re made of star stuff, but now it turns out that life on Earth might be even more intimately connected to events in deep space than we imagined. Scientists recently reported the first ever discovery of supernova ash - atoms forged in the catastrophic explosion of dead stars - found buried in fossils created by bacteria right here on Earth. And most surprising of all these findings hint at a possible role for supernovae in bringing about mass extinctions, events which have changed the course of life on Earth and may do so again in our future. Today we’re joined at The Star Spot by the discovery team’s Professor Shawn Bishop.

Current in Space

We worry whether our search for extraterrestrial intelligence is looking in the right place. Tony tells us a better question might be whether we're looking at the right time. But might we be able to catch life ejected into space? Dave shares exciting evidence of enormous water jets coming from Jupiter's icy moon Europa. Finally Anuj provides an update on an exciting future space telescope that might just be built by little, green... robots. 

About Our Guest

Shawn Bishop is an experimental nuclear astrophysicist at the Technical University of Munich in Germany. Bishop studied at McMaster University and the University of Victoria and received his PhD from Simon Fraser University in 2003. He has worked at TRIUMF National Laboratory in Vancouver and the RIKEN National Laboratory in Saitama, Japan. He studies nuclear physics, nucleosynthesis and supernovae.

Direct download: The_Star_Spot_Episode_111_Shawn_Bishop.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

Feature Guest: Nico Hamaus

Astronomers are no longer avoiding the void. Between the overdense zones of our universe, where most galaxies live, there exist vast regions of near emptiness that can stretch for hundreds of millions of light years. But these voids are not nearly as inconsequential as you might imagine and now they are finally getting the attention they deserve. Astronomers are peering into the void in the hopes of solving a variety of cosmic mysteries, from gleaning critical insights into dark matter to studying unique galaxies found in the voids. Today we’re joined at The Star Spot by Nico Hamaus as we study the spaces between.

Current in Space

Just as we're learning more about our solar system's own Kuiper Belt, we're also discovering that extrasolar systems may harbour similar structures. Dave helps us understand just where such disks may originate. And while it may be just a little world, Anuj tells us dwarf planet Pluto has a surprisingly complex inner (and surface) life.

About Our Guest

Nico Hamaus is research fellow in the Cosmology Group at the University Observatory and Professor of Physics at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany.

Direct download: The_Star_Spot_Episode_110_-_Peering_Into_the_Voids.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

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