In this episode we talk to Dr Katharine Johnston about massive star formation, Professor Ed Copeland about alternative theories of gravity, and Dr Dave Jones about binary stars and astronomy at the Very Large Telescope (VLT). We also talk to Mike Anderson about managing the site at Jodrell Bank Observatory in this month's JodBite, and your astronomical questions are answered by Dr Tim O'Brien in Ask an Astronomer.
JodBite with Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson is the site manager and safety officer for Jodrell Bank Observatory and its outstations. He is reponsible for the safety of personnel working on and around the telescopes, and talks about some of the unusual hazards that these instruments present. He also tells us about his experiences of managing the site during the Live from Jodrell Bank event and the filming of BBC Stargazing Live.
Interview with Dr. Katharine Johnston
Dr. Johnstone, from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg (Germany), talks to us about massive stars (approximately 10 times the mass of our Sun or more), how they form and the effect their UV radiation has on their surroundings.
Interview with Prof. Ed Copeland
Prof. Ed Copeland works on particle theory at the University of Nottingham, and spoke about dark energy and modified gravity at the National Astronomy Meeting. In this interview, he explains how the apparent acceleration of the expansion of the Universe forces physicists to consider either the driving force of dark energy or a reassessment of how gravity actually works.
Interview with Dr Dave Jones
Dr. Dave Jones, an ex-Jodcaster, tells us about his job looking after one of the telescopes at the Very Large Telescope in Chile. Dave also describes his research into why planetary nebulae form into the beautiful hourglass and butterfly shapes seen in so many Hubble images.
Ask an Astronomer
Dr Tim O'Brien answers your astronomical questions:
- The first question is from Geoffrey Moore who asks 'How do astronomical observations help constrain models of early inflation in current cosmological models? What further observations might we look for with new telescopes?
- The next question is from Pete who says 'I've understood until recently that the age of the universe was almost exactly 13.7 billion years old. But various podcast and other sources have in the last few months started to use a figure of 14 billion years old. Do you know of any reason for this change? I can't believe that this just a matter of rounding all of a sudden! Thanks for your time... Jod On!'
- Ann James wrote in to say 'Hi all at JB, just had a lovely jubilee weekend caravanning at Knockin in Shropshire. We were fascinated by the radio telescope there that I understand is part of your Merlin project and would be interested to know what it was tracking. Thanks a million.'
- Finally a question from @oggyspace on Twitter: He says (in less than 140 characters) that 'Sagan states (Cosmos): total energy received by radio telescopes is less than energy of snowflake hitting ground...true ?'
Odds and Ends
5-6th June was the last chance for astronomers to see a transit of Venus across the Sun for another 105 years. Venus transits are among the rarest of predictable celestial phenomena, occurring in pairs, eight years apart, around once a century. The previous one was on 8th of June 2004. Many research opportunities were provided by the transit, assisting researchers searching for exoplanents and studying exoplanet atmospheres.
Two telescopes have been donated to NASA by the US government. These satellites have a mirror size of 2.4 m, which is equivalent to that of the Hubble space telescope. The satellites also have 100 times the field of view of Hubble. NASA hopes to refit the telescopes for science purposes by 2024.
Fusa Miyake and her colleagues at the Nagoya University in Japan have found spikes in the Carbon-14 content of tree rings, corresponding to a massive influx of cosmic rays around 1200 years ago. Such cosmic ray bursts are typically attributed to supernovae or solar flares, however, no corresponding supernovae remnants have been measured, and the strength of this spike would require a solar flare more powerful than any previously discovered.
|JodBite:||Mike Anderson and Mark Purver|
|Interview:||Dr Katharine Johnston and Melanie Gendre|
|Interview:||Prof. Ed Copeland and Mark Purver|
|Interview:||Dr Dave Jones and Leo Huckvale|
|Ask An Astronomer:||Dr Tim O'Brien|
|Presenters:||Liz Guzman, Libby Jones and Cat McGuire|
|Editors:||Dan Thornton, Adam Avison, Melis Irfan, Tim O'Brien, Mark Purver and Christina Smith|
|Segment Voice:||Cormac Purcell|
|Website:||Cat McGuire and Stuart Lowe|
|Cover art:||The Solar Dynamics Observatory's ultra-high definition view of 2012 Venus Transit. CREDIT: NASA/SDO, AIA|