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.

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD

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.    

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD  

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.

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD

 

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.

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD

 

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.

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD

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

Episode 167: Current in Space + The Best of The Star Spot: Nobel laureate Brian Schmidt

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

Today we offer a best of from our vault here at The Star Spot. We dug back to a fan favourite, our December 2014 interview with Nobel laureate Brian Schmidt, who won the biggest prize in science for discovering the accelerating universe. 

The 1929 discovery of the expanding universe by Edwin Hubble forever changed our picture of the cosmos and our understanding of our place in the universe. In 1998 we learned that wasn’t the only surprise. That’s when two teams of astronomers announced that the expansion of our universe isn’t slowing down as everyone assumed. Its speeding up. Today we’re joined at The Star Spot by Distinguished Professor Brian Schmidt who won the Nobel Prize for discovering our accelerating universe.

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD

Current in Space

Tony and Amelia discuss a new finding from the ALMA observatory: a cool ring of gas encircling the supermassive black hole at the center of the Galaxy. Then Simon pulls you in with the measurement of a tiny black hole at the center of a nearby dwarf galaxy. And finally Tony returns with breaking news from the Jovian satellite system: Sodium chloride, aka table salt, has been found on none other than the ice-covered ocean moon Europa!

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

Dr. Brian Schmidt is Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University Mount Stromlo Observatory and holder of an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship. In 2011 Schmidt received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his co-discovery that the universe isn’t merely expanding, it’s actually accelerating in its expansion. Shmidt is Fellow of the Royal Society, a recipient of the Pawsey Model, the Dirac Medal and the Shaw Prize in Astronomy.

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 166: Nanodiamonds are Forever, with Jane Greaves

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

Feature Guest: Jane Greaves

Remember that nursery rhyme, “Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky?” Well they were on to something, because it turns out diamonds – albeit nanodiamonds – are ubiquitous across the Milky Way galaxy. So-called diamond dust is even here in our own solar system. Today we’re joined at The Star Spot by Professor Jane Greaves, whose team made the discovery that unexpectedly solved a long standing astronomical mystery.

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD

Current in Space

Simon explains a tantalizing find: 30 binary stars that have somehow been ejected from their home galaxies! Then Amelia and Tony report on a bizarre discovery: a star that’s apparently the merger between two white dwarfs!

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

Jane Greaves is Professor of Astronomer at Cardiff University in Wales. She is the recipient of the 2017 Fred Hoyle Medal from the Institute of Physics of London. In 2008 her team took the first direct image of a proto-brown dwarf candidate. Greaves uses textile art to communicate her passion for astrophysics with the public.
 
Links
 
Diamond Dust Shimmering around Distant Stars:  Nanoscale gemstones source of mysterious cosmic microwave light (Press Release)
 
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 165: Landing on Europa, with Cynthia Phillips

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

Feature Guest: Cynthia Phillips

In the 1970s, the Viking landers performed historic experiments aimed at detecting life in the Martian soil. The results were disappointing although to this day still not entirely conclusive. Now over 40 years later a new lander with a next generation set of life detection equipment is under assessment by NASA. This time the target is not the Red Planet, but the ocean moon Europa, which has emerged as a prime candidate in the search for life in the solar system. Today we’re joined here at The Star Spot by Cynthia Phillips, Deputy Project Scientist for the Europa Lander mission concept, who tantalizes us with dreams of flying through plumes and digging into an icy crust.

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD

Current in Space

Tony goes into speculation mode and ponders the chances that interstellar interlopers, like the recent Oumuamua, could actually carry life and deposit it on planets, perhaps even Earth. Then Samantha debuts with a report on a new gravitational wave event, one which may be the result of a type of binary system merger we’ve been hoping for. Simon troubles us with the disturbing discovery of holes in the Milky Way that were punched by . . . something. And Amelia and Samantha talk the dazzling first-ever discovery of the so-called first-ever molecule in space.

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

Dr. Cynthia Phillips is a Planetary Geologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she works on the Europa Clipper mission and the Europa Lander mission concept. She received her B.A. in astronomy, astrophysics, and physics at Harvard University, and earned her Ph.D. in planetary science, with a minor in geosciences, from the University of Arizona. Dr. Phillips is the co-author of several books, including The Everything Astronomy Book and Space Exploration for Dummies.

Links
50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2019 (LPI Contrib. No. 2132)
 
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 164: Jupiter’s Ancient Odyssey, with Simona Pirani

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

Feature Guest: Simona Pirani

The planet Jupiter occupies a position today that is far from its home 4.5 billion years ago, a destination resulting from a primeval migration that started way out around the current location of Uranus. Like the god for which it was named, Jupiter enjoys the company of thousands of followers, the so-called trojan asteroids, which have remained by its side all these years, and they now offer a window into the murky origins of the gas giant. Today we’re joined here at The Star Spot by Simona Pirani, lead author of a new study that provides the first ever proof that Jupiter – and perhaps most planets – undertake ancient odysseys around the solar system.

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD

Current in Space

We have bad news and good news. Simon puts a bit of a damper on things, as the first manned mission to Mars will have to wait longer than initially projected. Then Amelia and Samantha explain a crazy new finding: a pulsar that seems to be speeding through space! And we save the good news for last, as Tony shares new research suggesting that Earth-like planets orbiting red dwarf stars, which have been deduced as unlikely to host life, may actually be habitable after all.

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

Simona Pirani is a doctoral student in the Department of Astronomy and Theoretical Physics at Lund University in Sweden. She is the lead author on a major new study into ancient planetary migrations.

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 163: The Ring Worlds of Saturn, with Bonnie Buratti

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

Feature Guest: Bonnie Buratti

The spacecraft Cassini went out in spectacular fashion, travelling through Saturn’s rings for a final death dive into the gas giant. Even in its final heroic moments, Cassini was relaying back data shedding light on the bizarre worlds known as the ring moons of Saturn. The origin of these small bodies, which manage to maintain orbits within the turbulent environment of Saturn’s rings, pose a a puzzle for scientists. Today we’re joined here at The Star Spot by Bonnie Buratti of JPL with updates from her recently published study into this young and dynamic system of oddball worlds.

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD

Current in Space

Dave presents a hole of a breakthrough: The much-anticipated Event Horizon Telescope has at last come online, and has already given us the stunning first-ever image of a black hole. Then Amelia and Samantha explore newly proposed possibilities concerning the habitable zone, the region around a star in which planets could support liquid water on their surfaces. And lastly Tony and Simon offer a back to back analysis of how we might save ourselves from a killer asteroid. Spoiler alert! The movies have it wrong, but we’re not entirely without hope.

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

Bonnie Buratti is a planetary astronomer in the Division of Earth and Space Sciences at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she leads the Comets, Asteroids, and Satellites Group.  She has worked on the Voyager program, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, the New Horizons space probe and the Rosetta mission.  She was awarded the NASA exceptional achievement medal for her contributions to the Cassini mission. In 2014 she was elected Chair of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society. She is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.
 
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