Show notes for Episode 190, March 24th 2014
Hosts: Paul, Pat, Matt (Guest)
Title: The Matt, Pat and Paul Traveling universe show!
Tonight’s show will feature some local devastation (on Jupiter from comet SL9) not to mention a quick summary of the changing appearance of nearly planets (gullies on Mars, volcanoes on Venus). However, the real excitement is way back in the past with Matt Johnson (YorkU and Perimeter Institute) as we examine in some detail the announcement of the detection of B-mode polarization and its implications for inflation in the early universe and the Big Bang cosmology.
This week in space/astronomy history:
1. Comet Shoemaker Levy 9 March 24 1993 discovery. It was a “rubble train” at this point, the most unusual comet that either Eugene (or Carolyn) Shoemaker or David Levy had ever seen. Tidally disrupted by Jupiter in 1992, Comet SL9 (formerly D/1993 F2) would rain rocks into the Jovian atmosphere in a spectacular manner in July 1994.
2. March 24 1975 marked the end of the Mariner 10 mission, first mission to extensively map the planet Mercury. A lack of onboard fuel to allow teh spacecraft to orient its radio antenna towards Earth finally closed off the scientific flow from Mariner 10.
3. Mercury RD-BD unmanned Mercury flight that COULD have flown Alan Shepard into a sub-orbital flight prior to Yuri Gagarin’s flight of April 12 1961. However, the mission remained unmanned and flew successfully.
4. Birthday shoutout to Joseph Hooton Taylor, born March 29 1941. Nobel Prize for work on pulsars, shared with Russell Hulse in 1980. taylor is synonymous with pulsar research and the uses pulsars (rotating neutron stars) have in testing aspects of teh theory of relativity.
5. Christian Huygens discovered the largest moon of Saturn, Titan in March 25 1655.
Guest: Matt Johnson (of York University and the Perimeter Institute) will discuss with the YorkUniverse Team the announcement last Monday March 17 2014 of the B-mode polarization detection and its implications for the Inflation model of the Big Bang cosmology.
Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts (Physics specialization) at Evergreen State College, Olympia Washington USA
PhD Physics at UC Santa Cruz
Postdoc at CalTech
Postdoc at Perimeter Institute
Assistant Professor at York University and Associate Faculty Member at Perimeter
Large gravitational wave signal in the CMBR is good news! Other existing (and planned) instruments can check if it’s real, and if so, study it in detail to gain new information about inflation. Will the B-mode polarization be found at other wavelengths? If not, does this suggest the interpretation of gravity waves as the cause of the B mode polarization needs to be revisited or indeed discarded? Pat is suggesting that new observations will cast doubt on the current interpretation of the B mode observations. A $10 bet is “on” with Matt! Stay tuned.
1. Active volcanoes on Venus? New data from ESA’s Venus Express suggests that 3 recent volcanic eruptions may have occurred. While the notion of Venusian volcanism dates back to the Pioneer Venus days of the late 1970s, no definitive proof has yet been established. venus is tough to observe even with orbiting spaceprobes. Smrekar et al from JPL have measured 3 “hot spots” on the Venusian surface that they conclude are very recent. While the article is soon to be published in Nature, the data from Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS), is very suggestive of three eruptions last year. Sulphur dioxide measurements are often cited as evidence of such eruptions but that is not considered definitive.
2. Next crew to launch to the ISS March 25, 5:17 PM EDT. Expedition 39, despite the ongoing crisis in Ukraine seems to be business as usual with 2 Russian and 1 NASA astronaut.
3. Very few observations of the Regulus Occultation by 163 Erigone from March 19-20. It would appear that almost the entire observation path was clouded out. A real disappointment to the IOTA team members not to mention those of us planning to witness this once in a lifetime “disappearance’ of one of the brightest stars in the night sky.
Major Topics Discussed:
1. New gully on Mars (but probably not from water):
Images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show a new channel in the southern hemisphere region of Terra Siernum that appeared between November 2010 and May 2013.
The pair of images that shows material at the base of a gully broke out of an older route and eroded a new channel.
This particular feature is likely not due to water.
“Before-and-after HiRISE pairs of similar activity at other sites demonstrate that this type of activity generally occurs in winter, at temperatures so cold that carbon dioxide, rather than water, is likely to play the key role,” the agency said.
Last week, the agency also announced that MRO recovered from an unplanned computer swap that put the spacecraft into safe mode. Incidents of this nature have happened four times before, the agency noted.
2. 360-degree Milky Way panorama from Spitzer:
More than 2 million infrared photos taken by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope were jigsawed into a 20-gigapixel click-and-zoom mosaic.
Named GLIMPSE360 (Galactic Legacy Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire project), the deep infrared survey captures only about 3% of the sky, but because it focuses on the plane of the Milky Way, where stars are most highly concentrated, it shows more than half of all the galaxy’s 300 billion suns.
In this mosaic you can see jets from young stars, bubbles blown around massive stars, and emission nebulae lit up by the light from stars.
Unlike visual light, infrared light is not stopped by dust, and thus is used by astronomers to view structures in the plane of our galaxy that are obscured in the optical.
Thanks for listening!
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