Okay sci-fi writers, today we’re going to give you a guided tour of building planets. How they form, how they grow, and how things can go horribly horribly wrong.
Ep. 676: Other Things with Rings
We’ve spent a lot of time gushing about Saturn’s rings, but there are other places with ring systems. And not just Jupiter and the ice giants, but asteroids, dwarf planets, centaurs and even exoplanets. Today we’ll gush about them.
Ep. 660: Runaway! Runaway! Escaping Stars, Planets & Small Bodies
Moons orbit planets, planets orbit stars, stars orbit within galaxies. It’s orbits all the way down. But occasionally objects can receive a powerful kick that sends them off on a journey, never to return.
Ep. 657: Astronomical Naming Schemes
Space is a big place, with a lot of galaxies, stars, planets and moons, and that means a lot of names. How do astronomers name stuff, like comets, asteroids, exoplanets, craters?
Ep. 633: Weirdly Habitable Places
We’ve always assumed that habitable planets would need to be like Earth; a terrestrial planet orbiting a sunlike star. But now astronomers have been discovering planets in the habitable zone around very much non-sunlike stars. What strange places could be habitable?
Ep. 625: End of the Year Review
We’ve reached the end of 2021, and this is the last episode of the year. Let’s look back at the big space events of the last year and talk about what we’re looking forward to in 2022.
Ep. 618: Ice Giants
We’re learning more and more about the outer planets of the Solar System. Uranus and Neptune are ice giants, filled with water and other volatiles that we’d consider ice if it was here on Earth. What’s inside these worlds, and what could we expect to find across the Milky Way?
Ep. 611: What is Required to Confirm Alien Life: Intelligence Edition
Last week we talked about what it’s going to take to confirm basic biological life across the Solar System and the Milky Way. This week, we’ll discuss what it’s going to take to detect intelligent life out there in space.
Ep. 610: What is Required to Confirm Alien Life: Non-sentient Edition
Are we alone in the Universe? It’s one of the biggest scientific questions we can possibly ask. And yet, with rovers on Mars, missions planned to visit Europa and Ganymede. Powerful telescopes able to detect the atmospheres of exoplanets, we’re closer than ever to finding out the answer.
Ep. 600: Looking Ahead
Today, we gaze into the future of space and astronomy. What upcoming missions and events are we excited about?
Ep. 595: Planet Hunting (Updated)
This is going to be another one of those evergreen topics, where we come back to again and again. Finding planets. Every time we talk about this now, it seems like we’ve gained thousands of new planets. Well buckle up, new techniques will grow that by tens of thousands and even millions.
Ep. 585: Super Earths, Mini-Neptunes, Gas Dwarfs
As astronomers are finding even more new extrasolar planets, they’re starting to discover entirely new categories. There are classes of planets out there that we just don’t have any analog here in the Solar System. Let’s talk about them.
Ep. 573: Exoplanet Atmospheres
Not only have astronomers discovered thousands of exoplanets, but they’re even starting to study the atmospheres of worlds thousands of light-years away. What can we learn about these other worlds, and maybe even signs of life.
Ep. 572: Twists in Planet Formation
We’re all looking forward to the next generation of exoplanetary research, where we get to see pictures of planets directly. But astronomers are already making great strides in directly observing newly forming planets, helping us understand how our Solar System might have formed.
Ep. 546: Weird Issues: Planetary Migration
Before we discovered other planets, our Solar System seemed like a perfectly reasonable template for everywhere. But now we see massive planets close to their stars, which leads you to the question, how does it all get there. Do the planets form in place or do they migrate around?
Ep. 540: Weird Issues: How Do (or Don’t) Planets Form?
As astronomers started to discover planets orbiting other stars, they immediately realized that their expectations would need to be tossed out. Hot jupiters? Pulsars with planets? We’re now decades into this task, and the Universe is continuing to surprise us.
Ep 491: Exoplanet Update 2018
Finally, a big update. Have there been news in the realm of exoplanets? More news that we can possibly cover. But we’ll try our best.
Ep. 464: Why the Hype over an Exorock?
Astronomers this week announced that they had discovered an asteroid or comet on a trajectory that brought it from outside the Solar System? Is this the first case of an object from deep space? And what can we learn from this discovery?
Ep. 390: Occam’s Razor and the Problem with Probabilities
I’m not saying it’s aliens, but it’s aliens. Actually, it’s almost certainly not aliens, or a wormhole, or a multiverse. When scientists discover something unusual, they make guesses about what’s happening. But Occam’s Razor encourages us to consider the probabilities of different events before making any concrete predictions.
Ep 386: Orbiting Observers
The atmosphere keeps us alive and breathing, but it really sucks for astronomy. Fortunately, humanity has built and launched space telescopes that get above the pesky atmosphere, where the skies are really clear. Let’s take a look at the past, current and future of orbital observation.
Ep. 375: The Search For Life in the Solar System
With the discovery of water ice in so many locations in the Solar System, scientists are hopeful in the search for life on other worlds. Guest Morgan Rehnberg returns to Astronomy Cast to explain the best places we should be looking for life.
Ep. 364: The COROT Mission
Before NASA’s Kepler mission searched for exoplanets using the transit method, there was the European COROT mission, launched in 2006. It was sent to search for planets with short orbital periods and find solar oscillations in stars. It was an incredibly productive mission, and the focus of today’s show.
Ep. 202: The Planets at Gliese 581
With the discovery of a planet in the habitability zone of Gliese 581, the chances of finding life on other worlds is just getting better and better. Let’s take a look at the discoveries made at Gliese 581, provide some perspective on the real chances of life, and talk about what might come next.
Ep. 34: Discovering Another Earth
What a week! Astronomers announced the discovery of an Earth-sized planet orbiting the nearby star Gliese 581. We talk about the technique used to discover the planet, the possibilities of finding even smaller planets, and what the future holds for finding another Earth.
Correction: At the beginning of the show, Pamela says that Gliese 581c is estimated to have a mass of no more than 5.6 solar masses. The actual mass limit is estimated to be no more than 5.6 Earth masses. We are very sorry for the mistake. -Rebecca
Ep. 24: The Fermi Paradox: Where Are All the Aliens?
We live in a mind bogglingly big Universe filled with countless stars. We know intelligent life evolved here on Earth. It must be common across the Universe, right? But if there’s life out there, how come we haven’t been visited by aliens yet? Why haven’t we even picked up signals from alien television stations? Where’s all the life?