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March 2014: Impact

March 2014

In the show this time, we talk to Dr Miguel Pérez-Torres about radio observations of supernovae and we find out what we can see in the March night sky from Ian Morison.

Interview with Dr Miguel Pérez-Torres

We talk to Dr Miguel Pérez-Torres about observing supernovae using radio telescope arrays. He explains how high-resolution radio observations of exploding stars, or supernovae, are very useful in studying their properties in more detail, and discusses some of the observations he is doing with the E-Merlin array He also talks about so-called 'supernova factories': young, dusty galaxies that produce stars at a high rate. He wraps up by discussing the future of radio supernovae observations and hints at some interesting observations of the latest supernova to be discovered, 2014J.

The Night Sky

Northern Hemisphere

Ian Morison tells us what we can see in the northern hemisphere night sky during March 2014.

Orion, Taurus, Canis Major and Gemini move into the western sky after sunset. Cancer is further east, and binoculars can be used to find the open cluster M44 - the Beehive Cluster - in this otherwise sparse area of the sky. Leo is rising in the east, and a number of galaxies can be found beneath his belly using a telescope. Virgo and Coma Berenices are lower down, and share a region known as the Realm of the Galaxies, wherein lies the giant Virgo Cluster. Boötes rises a little later, with its bright star Arcturus. Ursa Major, containing the Plough, is up to the north, and the rear two stars of the the Plough, Merak and Dubhe, point towards the North Star.

The Planets


Odds and Ends

The MIDAS project has published results from last September of a meteroid impact on the surface of the moon. The meteoroid would probably have measured between 30 cm and 1.4 m, and weighed between 45 kg and 450 kg. It left a crater roughly 45 m in diameter, and the impact produced a glow that lasted 8 seconds. Read an Ars Technica article on the story here. The original MNRAS journal article can be found here.

NASA's Kepler mission has recently announced a haul of 715 new exoplanets, taking the count of confirmed planets to almost 1,700.The 715 orbit just 305 stars, and were confirmed using a technique called verification by multiplicity, which focuses on finding multiple planets around one star. 95 percent of the new planets are smaller than Neptune, and four are less than 2.5 times the size of the Earth and in the habitable zone of their parent star.

Spectacular aurorae were seen over northern Europe late on the 27th of February (Universal Time). The Northern Lights extended much further south than usual, producing displays in much of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Particles ejected by the Sun early on the 25th were responsible, but their effect was unexpectedly strong as they struck molecules in the Earth's atmosphere to produce green and, more unusually, red colours. The Southern Lights were also seen by astronauts on the International Space Station. Alert services, such as Aurora Watch UK, are available to forecast upcoming aurorae.

Show Credits

Interview:Dr Miguel Pérez-Torres and Indy Leclercq
Night sky:Ian Morison
Presenters:Fiona Healy, Indy Leclercq and Mark Purver
Editors:Sally Cooper, Indy Leclercq and Mark Purver
Segment Voice:Iain McDonald
Website:Indy Leclercq and Stuart Lowe
Cover art:The peculiar galaxy Arp 299 seen by the Hubble telescope.It is the result of the collision and merger of two spiral galaxies; several supernovae can be found here. CREDIT: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)/A. Evans (UVa/NRAO/Stony Brook U.)

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