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June 2012 Extra: Twice-in-a-lifetime

June 2012 Extra

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:

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.

Show Credits

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
Producer:Cat McGuire
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

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