Episode 177: The Case of the Missing Dark Matter, with Guo Chi

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: Guo Chi

Dark matter vastly overshadows ordinary matter in our universe. Wherever astronomers turn their telescopes they find galaxies dominated by dark matter. But all that changed recently with the first discoveries of dwarf galaxies suspiciously deficient in dark matter. To make sense of this baffling finding and how it relates to our Milky Way’s own local dwarf galaxies, today we’re joined here at The Star Spot by study lead Professor Guo Qi from the Chinese Academy of Science.

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Current in Space

NASA’s newest planet hunter has made its most remarkable discovery yet: an Earth-sized world in its star’s habitable zone, and Anshool provides everything you need to know. Amelia and Priyanka explain a mystery surrounding a particle, and a strange halo around a pulsar may be the key to solving it. And in his debut, Jeff offers more pulsar news in that a new surface map of a particular pulsar may question everything we thought we knew about these lighthouses of the Galaxy.

About Our Guest

Guo Qi is Professor of Astronomy at the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Science. She received her PhD from the Max-Planck Institute for Astrophysics and held a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the UK’s Durham University.

Further evidence for a population of dark-matter-deficient dwarf galaxies (Scholarly publication in Nature Astronomy)

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The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Sunday at 8:00PM and Tuesday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here.
 
If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca
 
Support The Star Spot
 
The Star Spot is a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization. We operate with lots of love and a passion for astronomy, but that doesn’t quite cover all of our needs all of the time. Costs from web hosting, recording space, speaker fees, conference coverage and printing flyers, posters, business cards and the like do add up. Patreon is a simple way that fans of the show can contribute to the podcast every month and get some great rewards in return. If you’d like to see us continue to grow and continue to put out great content please consider helping us out. Our annual expenses total at about $10,000, and every little bit helps.
 
PatreonIf you’d like to know exactly where your money is going, ask us, and we’ll be glad to share the information. Alternatively, get involved with The Star Spot and have a say in it yourself!

Episode 176: Second Genesis, with Jay Melosh

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: Jay Melosh

If we should find creatures crawling around Titan or swimming under the ice sheets of Europa or Enceladus, they will almost certainly turn out to be the result of a second genesis, those creatures truly alien in the most profound sense. That startling conclusion follows from a series of groundbreaking simulation that found it exceedingly unlikely that life can be successfully transferred between the worlds of our solar system. To unpack the significance of this conclusion, today we’re joined here at The Star Spot by geophysicist Jay Melosh, who caused an uproar when he presented his findings at a recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

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Current in Space

Tony does triple duty. He opens with his own 2019 retrospective, featuring a review of some of the impressive achievements made in space science, and to expect more of the same in 2020. Then he and Joseph excite with possible exploration methods for two ocean worlds in the outer Solar System. And for those of you who missed the spectacular “ring of fire” solar eclipse in the eastern hemisphere, Tony and Anshool have you covered, with a review of places impacted, and a preview of similar events in the near future.

About Our Guest

Jay Melosh is University Distinguished Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Science at Purdue University. He is the recipient of the Leon Blitzer Teaching Award, the Hess Medal of the American Geophysical Union, and the Humboldt Prize Fellowship, among many other honours.
 
Links
 
Panspermia (Naked Science Video)
 
How to Listen to the Show
 
* Subscribe for free with itunes
* Use feedburner in your browser
 
The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Sunday at 8:00PM and Tuesday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here.
 
If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca
 
Support The Star Spot
 
The Star Spot is a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization. We operate with lots of love and a passion for astronomy, but that doesn’t quite cover all of our needs all of the time. Costs from web hosting, recording space, speaker fees, conference coverage and printing flyers, posters, business cards and the like do add up. Patreon is a simple way that fans of the show can contribute to the podcast every month and get some great rewards in return. If you’d like to see us continue to grow and continue to put out great content please consider helping us out. Our annual expenses total at about $10,000, and every little bit helps.
 
PatreonIf you’d like to know exactly where your money is going, ask us, and we’ll be glad to share the information. Alternatively, get involved with The Star Spot and have a say in it yourself!

Episode 175: The Truth is Out There (at the University of Manitoba)

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page. Feature Guest: Shelley Sweeney

The University of Manitoba has just acquired the largest collection of UFO related material. Prominent Canadian ufologist Chris Rutkowski has made a donation of over 30,000 documents, photos, artifacts and government reports, including files relating to the famous 1967 Falcon Lake Incident, involving a purported physical contact with a mysterious craft. Whether you’re intrigued by the phenomenon of belief or you believe in the phenomenon, the extraordinary human effort to address the UFO question is worth our attention, argues Shelley Sweeney, Head of Archives & Special Collections at the University of Manitoba, who joins us here at The Star Spot.

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Current in Space

In her final broadcast, Dunja literally goes out with a bang as bizarre eruptions of particles have been seen on the asteroid Bennu by orbiting spacecraft OSIRIS-REx.  Then Joseph looks back at our own planet, with a remarkable discovery: a new map of Antarctica that could forecast the future impact of climate change.  In his debut, Anshool describes a star careening through space, shot out by the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way! In other supermassive black hole news, Amelia and Priyanka share a finding that shall surely change the way we understand how huge galaxies form: a galaxy with three supermassive black holes! Finally Tony breaks down two new images of the first interstellar comet ever observed by humanity!

About Our Guest

Shelley Sweeney is Head of Archives & Special Collections at the University of Manitoba. She is a former Secretary of the international Academy of Certified Archivists and co-authored the code of ethics for the Canadian archival profession.

Links
 
The Falcon Lake UFO Files (University of Manitoba)
 
How to Listen to the Show
 
* Subscribe for free with itunes
* Use feedburner in your browser
 
The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Sunday at 8:00PM and Tuesday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here.
 
If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca
 
Support The Star Spot

The Star Spot is a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization. We operate with lots of love and a passion for astronomy, but that doesn’t quite cover all of our needs all of the time. Costs from web hosting, recording space, speaker fees, conference coverage and printing flyers, posters, business cards and the like do add up.

Patreon is a simple way that fans of the show can contribute to the podcast every month and get some great rewards in return. If you’d like to see us continue to grow and continue to put out great content please consider helping us out. Our annual expenses total at about $10,000, and every little bit helps.


PatreonIf you’d like to know exactly where your money is going, ask us, and we’ll be glad to share the information. Alternatively, get involved with The Star Spot and have a say in it yourself!

Episode 174: Fuzzy Dark Matter, with Lachlan Lancaster

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: Lachlan Lancaster

Quantum mechanics is strange. Until recently we could comfort ourselves with the belief that its odd properties were safely confined to the world of the microscopic. But what if quantum mechanical effects were suddenly magnified to cosmological scales. Imagine the quantum mechanical interference pattern spread across clusters of galaxies. That’s a possibility, according to a new theory of dark matter known as fuzzy dark matter, which imagines dark matter particles as being incredibly minuscule but with astrologically large wavelengths. How can we prove whether this fascinating new theory is correct? Do these ultra small particles give us clues to mysterious string theory? And what does all this mean about the past, present and future of the universe? Today we’re joined here at The Star Spot by Lachlan Lancaster, co-author of a new paper that sheds light on these questions.

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Current in Space

While NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft transformed Pluto from a speck to a world before speeding past, Joseph gets us excited for a proposed second mission that would orbit the dwarf planet and more! Then Dunja asks if a certain particle may be changing the very fabric of the Universe itself! And Amelia and Tony take us back in time to the early Universe with a baffling discovery: the first stars may have formed faster than previously thought.

The Star Spot is now on the Radio!

About Our Guest

Dr. Lachlan Lancaster is an astrophysics PhD student at Princeton University studying the intersection of Galactic Dynamics and Cosmology. He received his Masters from Cambridge University after conducting research at the University of California Davis.
 
Links
 
 
 
How to Listen to the Show
 
* Subscribe for free with itunes
* Use feedburner in your browser
 
The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Sunday at 8:00PM and Tuesday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here.
 
If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca

Episode 173: Discovering an Ancient Oasis, with William Rapin

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: William Rapin

Welcome to Sutton Island, here in the middle of a beautiful and rugged landscape consisting of shallow lakes filled with salts and minerals. It’s a common vista on this world, and while the world in question is not our home, ancient Mars may well have been someone’s home. Today we’re joined here at The Star Spot by William Rapin, with reports from the latest discoveries of the Mars Curiosity rover and why one of the Principal Investigators of NASA’s Viking mission is now convinced we found life on Mars back in the 1970s.

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Current in Space

Amelia and Tony share exciting news: the most powerful radio dish telescope in the world will soon be ready for widespread astronomical use! Then Joseph excites even more with a stunning discovery: the presence of water in the atmosphere of an exoplanet, making it the most prominent target yet in the search for habitable worlds. And once again on the subject of habitable worlds, in her debut, Dunja wonders if the size of planets matters to their potential for being habitable. Finally, Amelia and Priyanka report on a remarkable new technique for estimating the mass of black holes!

The Star Spot is now on the Radio!

William Rapin is postdoctoral scholar in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at Caltech. His research investigates the surface geochemistry of planets to improve our understanding of their origin, evolution, and habitability. Previously he worked as Research Assistant at NASA Ames Research Centre and was Assistant System Engineer with the Centre National d’Études Spatiales

About Our Guest

William Rapin is postdoctoral scholar in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at Caltech. His research investigates the surface geochemistry of planets to improve our understanding of their origin, evolution, and habitability. Previously he worked as Research Assistant at NASA Ames Research Centre and was Assistant System Engineer with the Centre National d’Études Spatiales
 
Links
 
 
 
How to Listen to the Show
 
* Subscribe for free with itunes
* Use feedburner in your browser
 
The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Sunday at 8:00PM and Tuesday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here.
 
If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca

Episode 172: The Hubble Not-So Constant

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: Sherry Suyu

The Hubble constant, which measures the expansion rate of the cosmos, may not be a constant after all, and if that’s true it means we’re missing something big in our understanding of the universe. Today we’re joined here at The Star Spot by Sherry Suyu, who leads the aptly named H0LiCOW project which uses the phenomenon of gravitationally lensed quasars to measure the expansion rate of the universe.

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Current in Space

Tony reports on a fascinating yet circumstantial finding that suggests a world literally on fire is out there, and it may excite fans of the Star Wars franchise. Then Amelia and Tony break down a study hinting at the existence of exoplanets that may be even more habitable than Earth! 

The Star Spot is now on the Radio!

Star Spot podcast is now The Star Spot podcast and radio show. That’s right. Your favourite astronomy program is now travelling through space, specifically the 1280AM frequency. Our broadcaster, CJRU The Scope at Ryerson, is now available on the radio dial, which means you can join us at The Star Spot at 1280AM every Sunday 8PM and Tuesday 6PM Eastern Time. Visit http://www.thescopeatryerson.ca/ to learn more about our partner radio station.

About Our Guest

Sherry Suyu is a Max Planck Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, an Assistant Professor at the Technical University of Munich, and a Visiting Scholar at the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Links
 
 
How to Listen to the Show
 
* Subscribe for free with itunes
* Use feedburner in your browser
 
The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Sunday at 8:00PM and Tuesday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here.
 
If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca

Episode 171: Ploonets: When Moons Go Rogue, with Jorge Zuluaga

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: Jorge Zuluaga

Astronomers have yet to confirm a single detection of an exomoon, that is a moon orbiting a planet outside our solar system. Now it turns out at least part of the explanation is that we may have been looking in the wrong place all this time. Introducing ploonets. No, I did not just mispronounce the word planet. Today we’re joined here at The Star Spot by Jorge Zuluaga, whose team coined the name to describe a moon that has gone rogue, and while it may sound exotic, a speculative theory posits that ploonets could have played a key role in the evolution of our very own planet.    

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Current in Space

Tony is back with an exciting discovery made in fresh snow in Antarctica: an isotope that can only have been manufactured in one place – the infernal heart of a supernova. Then Joseph and Tony once again ask the cosmic question: what are fast radio bursts, or FRBs, as eight more repeating FRBs have been detected in deep space, and we just may be on the cusp of solving the mystery. Finally, Amelia and Tony talk about a glitch. A software glitch? No. A neutron star glitch!

The Star Spot is now on the Radio!

Star Spot podcast is now The Star Spot podcast and radio show. That’s right. Your favourite astronomy program is now travelling through space, specifically the 1280AM frequency. Our broadcaster, CJRU The Scope at Ryerson, is now available on the radio dial, which means you can join us at The Star Spot at 1280AM every Sunday 8PM and Tuesday 6PM Eastern Time. Visit http://www.thescopeatryerson.ca/ to learn more about our partner radio station.

About Our Guest

Jorge Zuluaga is Professor of Astronomy at the Institute of Physics at the University of Antioquia in Colombia. His research interests include astrophysics, planetary science and astrobiology. He also enjoys teaching and popularizing Astronomy and Physics in his hometown. 
 
Links
 
 
 
How to Listen to the Show
 
* Subscribe for free with itunes
* Use feedburner in your browser
 
The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Sunday at 8:00PM and Tuesday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here.
 
If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca

Episode 170: The Mystery of Fast Radio Bursts, with Vikram Ravi

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: Vikram Ravi

They come to us from deep space. They last a tiny fraction of a second. They contain as much energy as the sun’s total output in 80 years. Yet we still haven’t figured out what causes these so-called Fast Radio Bursts or FRBs. I don’t want to say it’s aliens, but, no, it’s probably not aliens. Today we’re joined here at The Star Spot by Professor Vikram Ravi whose team is quickly zeroing in on the origin of these bizarre FRBs.

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Current in Space

Amelia and Tony explain new research stating that worlds with completely frozen oceans, fittingly known as snowball planets, may actually be habitable . . . on the surface! And while the peak of the prolific Perseid meteor shower may have already passed, Simon reminds us that it’s still not entirely over, and to get out there and take a look while you still can. Finally, robots are on the International Space Station! Joseph and Tony explain the purpose of three artificial helpers floating in the orbiting laboratory, one of which arrived only in late July.

The Star Spot is now on the Radio!

Star Spot podcast is now The Star Spot podcast and radio show. That’s right. Your favourite astronomy program is now travelling through space, specifically the 1280AM frequency. Our broadcaster, CJRU The Scope at Ryerson, is now available on the radio dial, which means you can join us at The Star Spot at 1280AM every Sunday 8PM and Tuesday 6PM Eastern Time. Visit http://www.thescopeatryerson.ca/ to learn more about our partner radio station.

About Our Guest

Vikram Ravi is Assistant Professor of Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology. He received a PhD from the University of Melbourne, then worked as the Millikan Fellow in Astronomy at Caltech followed by the Clay Fellow at the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard and Smithsonian. He describes his interest as exploring the “ephemeral, unseen universe,” studying phenomena that “vary on time-scales of nanoseconds to years.”
 
Links
 
 
 
How to Listen to the Show
 
* Subscribe for free with itunes
* Use feedburner in your browser
 
The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Sunday at 8:00PM and Tuesday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here.
 
If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca

Episode 169: Science at the Limits (Part 2)


For more info on the podcast, please see our About page. Feature Guest: Dan Falk

 

Scientists are finding themselves increasingly squeezed between academics sounding the limits of science and a public increasingly taken in by pseudoscience and conspiracy theories. Today we conclude our review of science under attack with science writer Dan Falk.

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Current in Space

NASA is looking to make space exploration a little greener, and Joseph and Tony report on their latest invention: an environmentally-friendly spacecraft fuel that may eventually replace hydrazine, the toxic industry standard for decades. Then Simon terrifies us with the fact that mere days ago, an asteroid nearly hit Earth. Finally Amelia and Tony explain a strange feature found around lakes on Titan.

The Star Spot is now on the Radio!

Star Spot podcast is now The Star Spot podcast and radio show. That’s right. Your favourite astronomy program is now travelling through space, specifically the 1280AM frequency. Our broadcaster, CJRU The Scope at Ryerson, is now available on the radio dial, which means you can join us at The Star Spot at 1280AM every Sunday 8PM and Tuesday 6PM Eastern Time. Visit http://www.thescopeatryerson.ca/ to learn more about our partner radio station.

About Our Guest

Dan Falk is an award winning science journalist and broadcaster. He has been published very broadly, including Smithsonian, The Walrus, Cosmos magazine, Scientific American, NBCnews.com, Slate and New Scientist. Dan Falk is also the author of three books, including In Search of Time: Journeys Along a Curious Dimension, Universe on a T-Shirt: The Quest for the Theory of Everything, and The Science of Shakespeare: A New Look at the Playwright’s Universe. He co-hosts the BookLab podcast. In spring 2019 he was the Science Communicator in Residence at York University in Toronto.

 
Links
 
How to Listen to the Show
 
* Subscribe for free with itunes
* Use feedburner in your browser
 
The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Sunday at 8:00PM and Tuesday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here.
 
If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca

Episode 168: Celebrating Apollo + Science at the Limits (Part 1)


For more info on the podcast, please see our About page. Feature Guest: Dan Falk

Today we’re joined here at The Star Spot by science writer Dan Falk.

We’ll start today’s interview with a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the landing of humans on the moon and the internationalism of that critical moment. But then, 50 years after this triumph of science, we’re going to confront head on a set of old and new challenges to the scientific enterprise itself.

All the fascinating research and discoveries we share at The Star Spot rests on basic assumptions about the primacy, scope and universality of science. In this two episode series, we take a step back and wrestle with some uncomfortable questions.

What if the fundamental reality we probe is merely a simulation? Does science harbour blind spots that will forever limit its ability to build a theory of everything? And even if science is supreme, can it contend with conspiracy theories and pseudoscience – like the moon landing hoax belief – that undermine its legitimacy in the eyes of the wider public.

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Current in Space

Tony explain a remarkable finding from the Curiosity rover on Mars: it’s detected the biggest emission of methane on the red planet yet. Then Simon delves into the subject of a black hole so unusual that it shouldn’t exist at all! And Amelia and Tony report on a new instrument that’s being used to hunt for exoplanets in the Alpha Centauri system.

The Star Spot is now on the Radio!

Star Spot podcast is now The Star Spot podcast and radio show. That’s right. Your favourite astronomy program is now travelling through space, specifically the 1280AM frequency. Our broadcaster, CJRU The Scope at Ryerson, is now available on the radio dial, which means you can join us at The Star Spot at 1280AM every Sunday 8PM and Tuesday 6PM Eastern Time. Visit http://www.thescopeatryerson.ca/ to learn more about our partner radio station.

About Our Guest

Dan Falk is an award winning science journalist and broadcaster. He has been published very broadly, including Smithsonian, The Walrus, Cosmos magazine, Scientific American, NBCnews.com, Slate and New Scientist. Dan Falk is also the author of three books, including In Search of Time: Journeys Along a Curious Dimension, Universe on a T-Shirt: The Quest for the Theory of Everything, and The Science of Shakespeare: A New Look at the Playwright’s Universe. He co-hosts the BookLab podcast. In spring 2019 he was the Science Communicator in Residence at York University in Toronto.

 
Links
 
How to Listen to the Show
 
* Subscribe for free with itunes
* Use feedburner in your browser
 
The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Sunday at 8:00PM and Tuesday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here.
 
If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca