In this show, we get an update on the ALMA telescope from Dr Robert Laing and we talk to Dr Graham Smith about gravitational lensing of galaxy clusters. Dr Tim O'Brien answers your questions and we report on some astronomical odds and ends.
Interview with Dr Robert Laing
Adam spoke to the European ALMA Instrument Scientist Dr Robert Laing, about the arrival of the first European antenna at the ALMA observing site. They discuss how the demands for ALMA antennae to cope with the extreme environmental conditions of the Atacama desert whilst providing excellent pointing accuracy (the accuracy to which a telescope can be pointed at a particular point in the sky), have been achieved. Plus the extent to which the European designed antenna will make up the the full ALMA array of 66 dishes.
Interview with Dr Graham Smith
Libby and Melanie talked to Dr Graham Smith (University of Birmingham) about his work with LoCuss, a survey of nearby galaxy clusters. Graham uses gravitational lensing to measure the mass of these galaxy clusters which can then give us information about dark energy. In this interview, he tells us all about galaxy clusters, how observations at other wavelengths can help with his research and speculates on the fate of our own Milky Way as part of the Virgo Cluster.
Ask an Astronomer
Dr Tim O'Brien answers your astronomical questions:
- First question this month is from Sean Mulcahy who asks "How often is the Lovell telescope struck by lightning each year, and what effect, if any, does this have on the science instruments?"
- Charles Woolley has a question about comets and the Oort Cloud. "Every comet that I've heard about seems to come from the Kuiper Belt. Has anyone ever discovered a comet that has an orbit that takes it back to the Oort Cloud or a comet they can say originated from there?"
- Next question is from Ernie Stephenson who asks "How is it that galaxies, like Andromeda for example, can exhibit a 'coherent structure' despite being thousands of light years across and given that information is carried at the speed of light? Is there some discernible difference between the top and the bottom (or left/right)?
- Geoff Mutton asks "The fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background are apparently caused by cold dark matter. How could it be so cold when the baryonic matter was in thermal equilibrium with radiation, then at a very high temperature?"
- Final question this month is from Richard Elvin. He says "After the big bang the universe cooled sufficiently to form neutral hydrogen. Ultraviolet radiation from the first stars then re-ionised it. Assuming the universe is open and continues expanding forever, will the universe ever 'de-ionise' again on its road to heat death?"
Odds and Ends
NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter successfully launched on August 5. The probe should reach the planet by July 2016 and will spend a year in orbit studying the composition of the Jovian atmosphere. Amongst other things, it will be trying to determine how much water there is there. It will also be studying the Jovian magnetic field and the northern and southern aurorae. As well as some scientific instruments, the probe will importantly be carrying three LEGO figurines in the likeness of the Roman god Jupiter, his wife Juno and Galileo Galilei. You can follow the mission on the NASA website or via it's Twitter feed @NASAJuno.
According to its twitter feed, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter dropped to a lower orbit of 20 km above the lunar surface on August 10. During August 14-19 it will take images of the Apollo landing sites, before returning to its usual orbital height of 50 km.
A new Jodcast video "A day in the life: conference", filmed at the National Astronomy Meeting, is now out.
|Interview:||Dr Robert Laing and Adam Avison|
|Interview:||Dr Graham Smith, Melanie Gendre and Libby Jones|
|Ask An Astronomer:||Dr Tim O'Brien and Mark Purver|
|Presenters:||Adam Avison, Jen Gupta and Leo Huckvale|
|Editors:||Adam Avison, Tim O'Brien and Dan Thornton|
|Segment Voice:||Liz Guzman|
|Website:||Jen Gupta and Stuart Lowe|
|Cover art:||The first European antenna for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array is transported to the observatory's Array Operations Site. CREDIT:: ESO/S. Rossi|