Last week we gave you an update on the formation of elements from the Big Bang and in main sequence stars like the Sun. This week, we wrap up with a bang, talking about the death of the most massive stars and how they seed the Universe with heavier elements.
The Universe started out with hydrogen and helium and a few other elements, but all around us, there are other, more proton-rich elements. We believe these heavier elements formed in stars, but which stars? And at what points in their lives? Today we’ll update our knowledge with the latest science.
Today, of course, we’re going to talk about the announcement from the Event Horizon Telescope and the first photograph of a black hole’s event horizon.
We learned how to figure out the ages of objects in the Solar System, now we push out into the deeper Universe. What about stars, galaxies, and even the Universe itself? How old is it?
Another update show, this time on the various generations of stars, let’s get into it.
Time for another update, this time we’re going to look at what’s new with supernovae. And once again, we’ve got good news, lots of new stuff to report.
Summer is almost here, and for the northern hemisphere, that means warm nights for observing. But what to observe? We’re here with a list of events and targets for you to enjoy over the summer. Get your calendars handy, and start organizing some events with your friends, and then get out there!
On Monday, August 21, 2017, there’s going to be a total eclipse of the Sun, visible to path that goes right through the middle of the United States. You should be making plans to see this, and we’re here to help you know where to go and what to do.
One of the most familiar asterisms in the night sky is the Teapot, in Sagittarius. Today we’re going to talk about that and have a bonus conversation about Bertrand Russell’s Teapot Argument.
Most of the time stars hang around for billions of years. But the Universe is a big place, and anything that can go wrong, inevitably does. Today we talk about what happens when these stars come together. The outcome is violent, and fortunately for you, also interesting.
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.
Out here in the Milky Way’s suburbs, stellar collisions are unheard of. But there are places in the galaxy where stars whiz past each other, and collisions can happen. When stars collide, it’s a catastrophic event, and the stellar wreckage is visible half a galaxy away.
The Universe is filled with hot fusion, in the cores of stars. And scientists have even been able to replicate this stellar process in expensive experiments. But wouldn’t it be amazing if you could produce energy from fusion without all that equipment, and high temperatures and pressures? Pons and Fleischmann announced exactly that back in 1989, but things didn’t quite turn out as planned…
Comets can spend billions of years out in the Oort Cloud, and then a few brief moments of terror orbiting the Sun. These are the sun grazers. Some survive their journey, and flare up to become the brightest comets in history. Others won’t survive their first, and only encounter with the Sun.
As we’ve mentioned before, the Sun is a terrifying ball of plasma. It’s a good thing we’re keeping an eye on it. And that eye is the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO. Operating for more than 18 years now, SOHO has been making detailed observations of the Sun’s activity though an almost entire solar cycle. With so many years of operation, SOHO has some amazing stories to tell?
Our Sun isn’t just a terrifying ball of white hot plasma, it’s actually a lot more complex. It’s got layers. And today, we’re going to peel back those layers and learn about the Sun – from the inside out.
Although the Zodiac is best known for astrology nonsense, it has a purpose in astronomy too. The constellations of the Zodiac define the plane of the ecliptic: the region where the Sun, Moon and planets appear to travel through the sky. What are the constellations of the Zodiac, and how do astronomers use them as way-points?
When too much material tries to come together, everything starts to spin and flatten out. You get an accretion disc. Astronomers find them around newly forming stars, supermassive black holes and many other places in the Universe. Today we’ll talk about what it takes to get an accretion disc, and how they help us understand the objects inside.
If you get enough hydrogen together in one place, gravity pulls it together to the point that the temperature and pressures are enough for fusion to occur. This is a star. But what happens when you don’t have quite enough hydrogen? Then you get a failed star, like a gas giant planet or a brown dwarf.
Have you ever heard an astronomer utter these words? Oh be a fine girl and kiss me. They’re not being romantic, they’re trying to remember the different ways to organize stars, as detailed nicely on a Hertzsprung–Russell diagram. Let’s learn what all those letters mean, and what differentiates a type-O star from a type-G.
Imagine an object with the mass of the Sun, crushed down to the size of Manhattan. Now set that object spinning hundreds of times a second, blasting out powerful beams of radiation like a lighthouse. That’s a pulsar, one of the most exotic objects in the Universe.
This week we’re going to talk about famous stars. But not those boring human ones you read about in People magazine. No, we’re talking about those hot balls of plasma across the distant Universe. The close ones, the bright ones, the massive ones, the giant ones. Let’s get to know some famous stars.
We think we live near an average star, but that’s not the case at all. Compared to most stars in the Universe, the Sun is a giant! Let’s look at the small end of the stellar spectrum, to stars with a fraction of the size and mass of our own Sun. There are many ways that a star can get small, and they lead dramatically different lives and deaths.
Did you know that our Solar System is a rarity with its single star. Astronomers believe that most star systems out there actually contain 2 or more stars – imagine seeing a sky with 4 suns. These binary and multiple star systems are a great target for new astronomers, and the dynamics of multiple stars keep astrophysicists busy too. Let’s take a look at what it would be like to live on Tatooine.
This week we find out the distance between Betelgeuse and Bellatrex, how astronomers measure distance between objects, the possibility that an object could mess up the orbit of Earth, and the reason for different sizes of stars. If you’ve got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to email@example.com and we’ll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.