In the show this time, Dr. Stuart Lumsden talks to us about his work on young stellar objects, Prof. Peter Wilkinson tells us about MUST, the Manchester University Student Telescope, in this month's JodBite and your astronomical questions are answered by Dr. Iain McDonald in Ask an Astronomer.
JodBite with Prof. Peter Wilkinson
Prof. Peter Wilkinson is a researcher and member of academic staff at the University of Manchester. One of the things Peter is working on is the planning and construction of a new radio telescope to be located at Jodrell Bank Observatory -- the Manchester University Student Telescope, MUST. The telescope itself is extensible and will grow with subsequent phases. It will be used as a teaching aid and to observe pulsars and elusive transient events.
Interview with Dr. Stuart Lumsden
Libby and Philippa spoke to Dr. Stuart Lumsden from the University of Leeds about young stellar objects (YSOs) and the MSX survey. The MSX survey has used the mid infrared spectrum to find the young massive stars in our own galaxy. YSOs make up a very small proportion of stars, numbering only about 2000 out of billions. Massive stars are important astronomical objects, shaking up their surrounding galaxies by disrupting material with strong radiation fields. Studying the these objects in their youth aims to tell us not only how massive stars form, but also how galaxies evolve.
Ask an Astronomer
Dr. Iain McDonald answers your astronomical questions:
- First question is from John Palmer: "Has the 3-equal-body problem been solved mathematically yet? A recent TV documentary discussing gravity assist missions, implied that computer simulations and graph paper were still needed!"
- Next question is from Andrew Horner who asked: "How does a planet with four suns have an apparently stable orbit?"
- Final question for this month is from Margaret Feaster: "Venus lost its water due to evaporation. How much of the lost water from Venus ended up on Earth?"
Odds and Ends
The bush fires going on at the time of release in Australia which have destroyed 33 homes in the New South Wales Area, have threatened the observatory at Siding Springs. The observatory and surrounding area was completely evacuated before the fire hit the area. The observatory is home to 12 telescopes including the 3.9 metre AAT optical telescope, Australia's largest optical telescope. At the time of release, 5 observatory support buildings have been destroyed including astronomer lodgings and the director's cottage, however the telescopes themselves appear to have not sustained major damage, but the effect on the instrumentation is not yet known - a full damage assessment is scheduled iminently and the observatory will be closed for at least 2 weeks while this is happening.
Astronomers have found what they believe to be the oldest star that we know of. Situated in the Milky Way, at a relatively neighbourly 190 light years away, the star's age was gauged using very precise measurements of its chemical composition and intrinsic luminosity. They found that the star (with the memorable name HD 140283) is at least 13.2 billion years old. Because it almost only contains hydrogen and helium, with just a few traces of heavier elements (it is said to have low metallicity), it is thought to be one of the second generation of stars to have formed after the big bang.
Over the last couple of months many cosmic microwave background telescopes had released their findings. These include the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, South Pole Telescope and WMAP, which in space. They have presented their results constraining the fundaments of physics and the origins of the universe. These telescopes tell us about the physics of energy scales well above that of the LHC, the contents of the universe and much, much more.
|JodBite:||Prof. Peter Wilkinson and Libby Jones|
|Interview:||Dr. Stuart Lumsden with Philippa Hartley and Libby Jones|
|Ask An Astronomer:||Dr. Iain McDonald and Christina Smith|
|Presenters:||Christina Smith, Indy Leclercq, and Chris Wallis|
|Editors:||Christina Smith, Sally Cooper, and Indy Leclercq|
|Segment Voice:||Cormac Purcell|
|Website:||Dan Thornton and Stuart Lowe|
|Cover art:||A Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) image of the Rho Ophiuchi cloud. This is one of the closest star forming regions to the Earth. CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA|