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May 2013 Extra: Oddity

May 2013 Extra

In the show this time, Brother Guy Consolmagno tells us about meteorites in our Solar System, Dr Joe Zuntz discusses the Dark Energy Survey in this month's JodBite, and your astronomical questions are answered by Dr Iain McDonald in Ask an Astronomer.

JodBite with Dr Joe Zuntz

Dr Joe Zuntz has recently joined the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics from University College London, and has studied cosmology at various wavelengths. He is now turning his attention to the visible and near-infrared emission from galaxies in an attempt to map the dark side of the Universe, as he works on the Dark Energy Survey. This survey will produce the largest map ever created by plotting the positions and distances of hundreds of millions of galaxies, as well as observing thousands of supernovae. Joe explains how it aims, among other goals, to determine whether the dark energy that apparently dominates our Universe is uniformly distributed throughout space.

Interview with Brother Guy Consolmagno

Brother Guy Consolmagno is the curator of the Vatican Observatory's meteorite collection, and also analyses the space rocks under his care. He explains how the Vatican came to own a meteorite collection, and how he has been using non-destructive techniques to test them and discover properties such as density, conductivity and magnetic field structure. He tells us about the conundrum of how dense rocks emerge from fields of apparently 'fluffy' asteroids, and what this can tell us about the ancient history of our Solar System. He also describes the problem of the weathering of meteorites once they land on Earth.

Ask an Astronomer

Dr Iain McDonald answers your astronomical questions:

Odds and Ends

The Sun has been very active recently, emitting three solar flares in a 24-hour period between the and 14th of May. These solar flares are X-class (the strongest type of solar flare) and have been followed by coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which have not been directed towards Earth. A fourth flare occurred several hours later, after the time of recording.

Astronomers from Tel Aviv University in Israel have used a new technique to find an extrasolar planet. They analysed data from the Kepler spacecraft in a novel way, looking for three effects happening simultaneously over the period of the planet's orbit: beaming of radiation as the planet moves towards us, ellipsodial distortion of the star due to the tidal influence of the planet and reflection of starlight from the planet's surface. They named their detection algorithm BEaming, Ellipsoidal and Reflection/emission modulations, or BEER. Ten years after it was first proposed, the method has identified Kepler-76b, a planet of twice the mass of Jupiter orbiting its host star every 1.5 days.

The International Space Station has been in the news a lot recently. First, a leak of ammonia coolant necessitated a spacewalk by two astronauts in order to fix the problem. Then Commander Chris Hadfield released a cover of David Bowie's song Space Oddity, filmed in zero gravity. The unique music video adds to the collection of amazing short films revealing life aboard the ISS.

Show Credits

JodBite:Dr Joe Zuntz and Mark Purver
Interview:Brother Guy Consolmagno and Libby Jones
Ask An Astronomer:Dr Iain McDonald and Libby Jones
Presenters:Mark Purver and Christina Smith
Editors:Christina Smith and Mark Purver
Segment Voice:Mike Peel
Producer:Mark Purver
Website:Mark Purver and Stuart Lowe
Cover art:Astronauts Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn repair an ammonia coolant leak on the outside of the International Space Station, 400 kilometres above the Earth's surface. CREDIT: NASA/CSA/Chris Hadfield

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