Dr. Luisa Rebull returns to the show to describe new research with the Kepler space telescope. Her ingenious study takes advantage of Kepler's strengths, and has produced results that stump theorists. Dr. Rebull explains why this data has given her "a whole new appreciation for post office workers."
Dr. Quan-Zhi Ye tries an unusual frappuccino and explains how meteor showers are related to comets. He tells the story of how he became interested in comets and asteroids, and fills us in on some of his recent research.
Dr. Jessie Christiansen returns to the show to talk about newly discovered exoplanets! She explains why this planetary system was devilishly difficult to observe with ground-based telescopes, and how one of the planets poses a puzzle.
Dr. Tiffany Meshkat describes direct imaging of exoplanets, which astronomers have used to discover enormous, young planets. She also talks about WFIRST, a mission under development that would be able to find and characterize exoplanets.
Dr. Meshkat mentions star HR 8799, read more about it here!
Dr David Ciardi talks about Vega, a bright star that’s “been a part of human lore forever.” Dr. Ciardi and his colleagues discovered that Vega has a nearby ring of dust, implying the presence of planets. He also describes an encounter with a giant inflatable bumblebee at Palomar Observatory.
Dr Rahul Patel describes his search for undiscovered disks of dust around other stars. He explains how looking for fainter and fainter debris disks may bring us closer to discovering a planetary system similar to our own.
Dr Roberta Paladini talks about the space-based Herschel Space Observatory, which was the largest infrared telescope ever launched. It looked at the sky in the far infrared, and discovered an abundance of water in star-forming regions.
Dr. Robert Hurt returns to the show to talk about artistic depictions of interstellar travel. We discuss the images of the seven-planet TRAPPIST-1 system he and Tim Pyle created— images that graced the cover of Nature and the front page of the New York Times. We also talk about Star Trek: The Next Generation, and what that TV show got right (and wrong) about the visuals of cruising through outer space.
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.
Dr. Varoujan Gorjian thoroughly debunks a misconception he hates— the idea that black holes suck. Find out what would happen to the Earth if our Sun was suddenly replaced with a black hole of the same mass, and why is is so challenging to send a probe to Mercury.
Dr Christiansen stops by the show to talk about exoplanets and the Kepler Space Telescope. We share an Australian beverage and she explains how astronomers look for exoplanets, and how the discovery of “hot Jupiters” was a huge surprise to astronomers.
Dr. Lisa Storrie-Lombardi talks about the Spitzer Space Telescope. She tells us how Spitzer made the first observation of light from a planet outside our solar system. She also describes how engineers are constantly innovating, letting Spitzer make better and more sensitive observations.
Dr. Robert Hurt stops by the podcast to talk about his job making visuals to explain complicated astronomical concepts. We chat about multiverses, gravitational waves (see the video he worked on below), and Cameron Diaz’s love for NASA.
Image: JPL/Caltech, artist Dr. Hurt. You can read more about this image here.