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September 2013 Extra: Frontiers

September 2013 Extra

In the show this time, Dr Álvaro Sánchez Monge tells us about High Mass Star Formation, Dr Evan Keane discusses magnetic fields and pulsars in this month's JodBite, and your astronomical questions are answered by Prof. Tim O'Brien in Ask an Astronomer.

JodBite with Dr Evan Keane

Dr. Evan Keane, formerly of the University of Manchester but now at Swinburne University of Technology, talks to us about a very rare find near the centre of our galaxy: a magnetar. He explains what magnetars are, why finding one near the centre is exceedingly rare, and how it can tell us a lot about the magnetic field in that area. The Nature paper that resulted from their discovery can be found here.

Interview with Dr Álvaro Sánchez Monge

Dr Álvaro Sánchez Monge researches high-mass star formation at the Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri in Florence, just around the corner from Galileo's house. He talks about the difficulty of separating the different phases in the formation of high-mass stars, and how infrared observations help us to see into the compact clouds where they form. He tells us about how to identify the jets of material ejected from protostellar cores, the use of molecules to trace the different areas and stages of formation and how the ALMA telescope will show more detail in these regions than ever before, peering into the circumstellar discs which are condensing into planets even as their host star is being born. He explains that such observations are already challenging theoretical models of star formation, as they are showing more intense emission at certain frequencies than had been predicted.

Ask an Astronomer

Prof. Tim O'Brien answers your astronomical questions:

Odds and Ends

The Voyager 1 probe was announced to have entered interstellar space . The craft is currently some 19 billion km or 121 AU from the Earth, and was deemed by project scientists to have left the Sun's area of influence. Readings from the probe's onboard Plasma Wave Science instrument showed a hundred-fold increase in the proton density around the craft, thus showing that the Sun's magnetic field and solar wind had lost their influence on the surrounding space.

September 6th saw the launch of NASAs Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), a robotic mission designed to collect data on the moon's atmosphere and surface dust. Also timed to coincide with LADEE's take-off was the launch of the NASA instagram profile, making a internet star out of photobombing frog captured by remote cameras at the LADEE launch site.

August 31st was the deadline for applications for the Astronaut Selection Program for Mars One: a project run by a Dutch foundation that aims to establish the first human settlement on Mars. The estimated cost of the project is $6 billion, which the foundation hope to raise by turning the project into a reality TV style event, selling TV rights and corporate sponsorship.

Show Credits

JodBite:Dr Evan Keane and Indy Leclercq
Interview:Dr Álvaro Sánchez Monge and Mark Purver
Ask An Astronomer:Prof. Tim O'Brien and Mark Purver
Presenters:Cat McGuire, Indy Leclercq and Joe Zuntz
Editors:Adam Avison, Indy Leclercq, Cat McGuire and Mark Purver
Segment Voice:Mike Peel
Producer:Cat McGuire
Website:Cat McGuire and Stuart Lowe
Cover art:Airborne frog at NASA's LADEE launch. The image was captured by one of the remote cameras at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. CREDIT: Credit: NASA Wallops Flight Facility/Chris Perry

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