Commencing countdown, engines on! In the show this time, we talk to Prof. Andrew Coates about the hunt for life in our Solar System, Dr. Iain McDonald tells us about stars, planets and chromosomes in this month's JodBite, and your astronomy questions are answered by Prof. Tim O'Brien in Ask an Astronomer.
JodBite with Dr. Iain McDonald
Dr Iain McDonald from the University of Manchester talks to the Jodcast about his diverse range of research interests. Whilst his research has mainly focussed on evolved stars, he's also spent time confirming extrasolar planets and using mutations on the Y chromosome to shed a light on human history.
Interview with Prof. Andrew Coates
Professor Andrew Coates from the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London talks to Emma about planetary science and space missions that he has been involved in. From spectroscopy on Cassini to the panoramic camera on the upcoming ExoMars rover, many aspects of his work aim to help answer one of the biggest questions there is: "is there life out there?"
Ask an Astronomer
Prof. Tim O'Brien answers your astronomical questions:
- Ann Stone asks: "Our galaxy (and others) rotate which presumably stop it collapsing inwards into a massive black hole. This I believe, has been observed. Do globular clusters have a similar, independent rotation to stop their collapse, has it been observed and measured, and is it consistent with current theories?"
- Robert H Jenkins asks: "Is it possible to detect neutrinos and gravitational waves from the same event?"
- John Bowdler asks: "Gravity: What is it? Where is it? How do you turn it off?!"
Odds and Ends
Coverage of the interstellar asteroid 'Oumuamua (which we looked at in the December 2017 news) has taken on a fantastical edge, with the Guardian's front page recently asking, "Could this be an alien spaceship?" Fortunately, the story behind the sensationalist headline is much more sane, detailing efforts by the Breakthrough Listen project to target the asteroid with the Green Bank radio telescope to check for any artificial emissions.
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) Division C Working Group on Star Names (WGSN) has formally approved 86 new names for stars this year. These names were taken from those used by other cultures, namely Australian Aboriginal, Chinese, Coptic, Hindu, Mayan, Polynesian, and South African. This is because apparently Western names are exhausted. This makes a total of 313 approved named stars to date. The story is here.
A 40-mile-wide black hole 8,000 light years from Earth has had its magnetic field measured, and it's pretty small - thousands of times weaker than it had been thought to be. At 461 plus/minus 12 gauss, it's only around an order of magnitude stronger than your average fridge magnet! The study was reported in Science, and helped to constrain models of accretion physics in black holes.
|JodBite:||Dr. Iain McDonald and Monique Henson|
|Interview:||Prof. Andrew Coates and Emma Alexander|
|Ask An Astronomer:||Prof. Tim O'Brien and Benjamin Shaw|
|Presenters:||Emma Alexander, Naomi Asabre Frimpong and Jake Morgan|
|Editors:||Alex Clarke, Andreea Dogaru, Jake Morgan and Tom Scragg|
|Segment Voice:||Mike Peel|
|Pantomime Script:||David Ault|
|Pantomime Cast:||Emma Alexander, Megan Argo, Naomi Asabre Frimpong, David Ault, Joe Hansen, Luke Hart, Josh Hayes, Joseph Kwofie, Nialh McCallum, Jake Morgan, Tom Scragg and Charlie Walker|
|Website:||Naomi Asabre Frimpong, Jake Morgan and Stuart Lowe|
|Producers:||Naomi Asabre Frimpong and Jake Morgan|
|Cover art:||Concept art of the ExoMars rover. CREDIT: ESA|