All posts by Josh

Professor of Physics at the University of Central Florida who does research in planetary sciences with the best and most fun research group on campus. Probably in the world, but it would take a long time to verify that.

Up-Goer Five Is the Money-Friend of Walk About the Great Big Group of Stars

We’re kicking off 2017 with new sound equipment and a special sponsor, the up-goer five. Check out the newest episode of Walkabout the Galaxy which features intentional hilarity as well as unintentional in the form of a blooper that didn’t get edited out. In this episode we talk about the prediction of a binary star merger that should produce a “red nova” in or about 2022, as well as NASA’s selections of two new asteroid missions, Lucy and Psyche. Like us on our facebook page for more frequent updates.
Download the episode directly here, or on iTunes.
Find out about the red nova here, and NASA’s Discovery mission selections here.

And if you want to know about this episode’s sponsor, check out the original Up-Goer Five.

New Episode looks at the object formerly known as “Planet 9”

We’re back from Fall travel hiatus with an episode that travels from Mars to the formation of the earliest galaxies. The astroquarks, Josh, Addie and Jim, return from a break to catch up on the latest planetary and galactic news. There is new indirect evidence that a largish body may be lurking in the distant regions of our solar system. Others have called this “Planet 9”. Listen in to hear why strange quark Josh prefers the moniker “Egotron”. Charm quark Addie fills in on the latest rocket news and mishaps. That, plus a new census on the number of galaxies in the early universe shows ten times more than previously thought. Top quark Jim tells us why that’s no big deal.

Download this episode of WtG from walkaboutthegalaxy.libsyn.com or from iTunes. Direct link here.

Earth’s Asteroid Stalker

In this episode of Walkabout we talk about an asteroid that is lurking out beyond the orbit of the Moon and stalking the Earth as it orbits the Sun. While it doesn’t pose an impact threat, there are plenty of little rocks out there that could do some serious damage. We also discussed the latest black hole merger observation by the LIGO gravitational wave observatory. For more on Earth’s stalker, see here. To listen to this episode, download from iTunes or directly from libsyn here.

The Babiest Galaxy

Jim Cooney joins Josh and Addie to talk about the origin of galaxies and the observation of a galaxy from when the universe was but a teeny weeny baby of a universe, less than 1/12th its current size. Also, Scott Kelly is back on terra firma and has to deal with gravity. Hear all about redshifts, the big bang, and hyposprays on this episode of Walkabout the Galaxy.

The headlines have this one all wrong. It is not the oldest galaxy. In fact, as far as we know, this galaxy got killed in a car accident when it was just a kid. We’re seeing it as a mere infant. It is, in fact, the babiest of galaxies.

Get it on iTunes or directly here.

And here’s some background reading:
NASA news release

Attack of the Gravitational Wave!

We’re back with a Nobel-Prize-winning episode (in that we discuss something that will win a Nobel prize)! A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, two big black holes (no jokes, please) collided with each other releasing a ginormous amount of energy that has propagated across the universe as the tiniest stretching and jiggling of space itself. Jim Cooney joins Josh and Addie to talk about the first direct detection of the waving of space-time (in other words, gravitational waves).

After listening to our episode here you will understand everything, but if you want to read more to kill time (or make time wave), here are some other good sources of information on gravitational waves.

Scientific American article.

Science Magazine

Good general explanation of gravitational waves.

A Conversation with New Horizons leader Alan Stern

Join us for a discussion with Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of the New Horizons mission to Pluto, and hear about the mission and its discoveries from the man who made it happen. New Horizons is headed towards its next target, a smaller object in the Kuiper Belt, the region of space beyond Neptune that was also, as it turns out, the birthplace of comet 67/P Churyomov-Gerasimenko. Yep, that’s the comet that the ESA mission Rosetta is studying, and none other than Alan Stern is the P.I. of the ultraviolet spectrometer on that mission. It’s all about the Kuiper Belt and missions to explore it with Alan Stern on this episode of Walkabout the Galaxy.

Download or listen on walkaboutthegalaxy.libsyn.com or subscribe on iTunes.

Learn more about New Horizons and Pluto here and about Rosetta and Comet 67/P here.

The Amniotic Sac of a Star

Most planetary systems discovered so far have relatively little in common with our own. The planets are generally tightly packed around their star making them hot and inhospitable. Most planets are significantly larger than the Earth, and there are a significant number of “super-Earths”, planets in between Earth and Neptune in size. While many of these differences are due to observational selection effects (it’s much easier to see planets that are big and close to their star than it is to see a planet like the Earth which is small and relatively distant), after accounting for the selection bias planets like Earth seem to be less common than we thought ten or 20 years ago. In this episode of Walkabout the Galaxy we discuss observations indicating a relatively large planet has formed around a very young star at a distance along the lines of the Sun-Saturn distance. Perhaps this system will one day look like our own.

New Horizons and Pluto

New Horizons gobbled up an amazing amount of data during its relatively brief encounter with the Pluto system last month, and it will take many months before all that data is transmitted to the ground. But even the teaser images we have received of Pluto and its largest moon Charon have opened up those worlds as new and interesting places with exotic icy mountain ranges and geologically young terrain. In what will likely be the first of many episodes to discuss the results of the New Horizons mission, the Walkabout gang discusses these preliminary results and speculates on what they mean and what is to come. Join us, won’t you?

Walkabout the Galaxy episode.

New Horizons mission homepage at NASA.

Cool ice flows on Pluto.