Astronomy

147: Searching for extraterrestrial life with Dr. Seager

This episode is related to the March 2019 National Geographic cover story, "We are not alone."

Dr. Seager explains how she and other astronomers are looking for extraterrestrial life. We discuss the Drake and Seager equations. We also talk about how astronomers might be able to detect life by measuring chemicals in distant planet atmospheres.    Image:  Using a model, MIT astrophysicist Sara Seager demonstrates Starshade, under development at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California. Deployed in space, the device, more than 100 feet in diameter, would block the light from a star. A space telescope would capture an image of a planet when it’s between Starshade’s petals, seeking evidence that life may exist on the planet.  (PHOTOGRAPH BY SPENCER LOWELL / NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC)

Dr. Seager explains how she and other astronomers are looking for extraterrestrial life. We discuss the Drake and Seager equations. We also talk about how astronomers might be able to detect life by measuring chemicals in distant planet atmospheres.

Image:

Using a model, MIT astrophysicist Sara Seager demonstrates Starshade, under development at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California. Deployed in space, the device, more than 100 feet in diameter, would block the light from a star. A space telescope would capture an image of a planet when it’s between Starshade’s petals, seeking evidence that life may exist on the planet.

(PHOTOGRAPH BY SPENCER LOWELL / NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC)

145: Backyard Worlds with Prof. Allers

Professor  Katelyn Allers  talks about how you can discover small cold stars! She is a member of the  Backyard Worlds  project, which is a collaboration between astronomers and citizen scientists. This project searches for brown dwarfs, which are some of the closest objects to our solar system.  You can join the search at  www.backyardworlds.org .  Follow Professor Allers on  twitter !

Professor Katelyn Allers talks about how you can discover small cold stars! She is a member of the Backyard Worlds project, which is a collaboration between astronomers and citizen scientists. This project searches for brown dwarfs, which are some of the closest objects to our solar system.

You can join the search at www.backyardworlds.org.

Follow Professor Allers on twitter!

132: Introducing people to the reach of infinity with Tim Thompson

Tim Thompson , former JPL scientist and member of the Mt. Wilson Institute Board of Trustees, talks about the Mt. Wilson Observatory. He explains why he doesn't operate the Mt. Wilson telescopes himself, and tells us why astronomers hate the twinkling of the stars. This episode was recorded on location, and Tim talks about the many public events offered at Mt. Wilson.  Learn more about Mt. Wilson and see upcoming events at  www.mtwilson.edu.    Image: 1909 image of the dome housing the 60 inch reflector telescope.

Tim Thompson, former JPL scientist and member of the Mt. Wilson Institute Board of Trustees, talks about the Mt. Wilson Observatory. He explains why he doesn't operate the Mt. Wilson telescopes himself, and tells us why astronomers hate the twinkling of the stars. This episode was recorded on location, and Tim talks about the many public events offered at Mt. Wilson.

Learn more about Mt. Wilson and see upcoming events at www.mtwilson.edu.

Image: 1909 image of the dome housing the 60 inch reflector telescope.

114: The densest stuff in the universe slamming together at the speed of light with Dr. Kanner

Dr. Jonah Kanner  talks about  LIGO ’s spectacular detection of two neutron stars merging together. This merger was not only detected by gravitational wave detectors in the US and Europe, it was also seen by many telescopes across the world and in space. This new discovery will help unlock many longstanding mysteries in astronomy and fundamental particle physics.   

Dr. Jonah Kanner talks about LIGO’s spectacular detection of two neutron stars merging together. This merger was not only detected by gravitational wave detectors in the US and Europe, it was also seen by many telescopes across the world and in space. This new discovery will help unlock many longstanding mysteries in astronomy and fundamental particle physics.

 

83: Why we archive with Dr. Rebull

Dr. Luisa Rebull  explains why it is vital to archive astronomical images. NASA archives, such as the ones at  IPAC , are accessible everyone on Earth at no cost. Luisa also describes how you can take a tour through archived data via the  Dustier, Messier, Messier Marathon .   Links: IPAC’s  Finder Chart .  Dustier, Messier, Messier Marathon  The NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program ( NITARP )  Image:  Robert Hurt

Dr. Luisa Rebull explains why it is vital to archive astronomical images. NASA archives, such as the ones at IPAC, are accessible everyone on Earth at no cost. Luisa also describes how you can take a tour through archived data via the Dustier, Messier, Messier Marathon.


Links:
IPAC’s Finder Chart.
Dustier, Messier, Messier Marathon
The NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program (NITARP)

Image: Robert Hurt