syzygy : astronomy podcast

syzygy : astronomy podcast

www.syzygy.fm/podcast
explore the universe : astronomy podcast


50: Imposter Comet!
Nov 11 • 43 min
For only the second time, astronomers have spoptted an interstellar interloper wandering through our solar system. Comet 2I/Borisov was spoitted by amateur astronomer Gennadiy Borisov on 30 August 2019 — since then it has been imaged by Hubble and studied…
49: The Syzygy Planet Hunter’s Guide
Nov 6 • 66 min
Some planets are easy to spot — Venus, for example, the morning star, the evening star. Others take a bit more effort to see with the naked eye, like Mercury, Mars, Jupter and Saturn. Uranus and Neptune require some technical assistance. And Pluto is more…
48: Wobbly Stars & Exoplanets
Oct 26 • 45 min
Syzygy is all about Emily this week, as her own field of asteroseismology comes to the fore: turns out, wobbly stars can tell us a lot about exoplanets! Studying starquakes can improve our knowledge of the mass and orbit of exoplanets by an astounding…
47: The Milky Way Explodes!
Oct 19 • 35 min
A big win for astrophysics in the 2019 Nobel Prizes. And the new discovery that, not so long ago, the centre of the Milky Way galaxy exploded with stupendous energy, lighting up a region of our local universe called the Magellanic stream — enough that our…
46: Dark Energy And The End Of The Universe
Oct 10 • 49 min
A century ago, Einstein had a conundrum: his brand new General Theory of Relativity, explaining gravity as warped space-time, predicted a universe either expanding or contracting — yet the cosmos seemed, and was believed by all to be, static. To fix his…
45: Biggest Neutron Star Ever!
Oct 7 • 46 min
Neutron stars are weird — big balls of super-dense, stupidly energetic, rapidly rotating nuclear splodge. They’re stars that, after running out of fusion fuel, have collapsed beyond the Quantum Electron Squashing Limit (a real thing), and have entered the…
44: Waterworld?
Sep 27 • 38 min
Astronomers have found an exoplanet that is in its star’s habitable zone, is (sorta) Earth-sized, and has water on it! ZOMG it’s Earth 2.0! Alien life!! Woah there — not so fast with the hyperbole, Scooter. It’s an exciting discovery, for sure, but not…
43: Moss Piglets in Spaaace!
Sep 19 • 38 min
Did humans contaminate the Moon earlier this year? Israel sent a lander to the Moon back in April 2019 which, sadly, crashed as it attempted to land. On board, as it happens, was an archive of human knowledge and samples of earth life … including some…
World’s First Trans-Galactic Podcast!
Sep 9 • 7 min
We said we’d do it, and we did! On Monday 9 September Emily and Chris broadcast Episode 42 across the galaxy to the red-giant star Betelgeuse in the constellation of Orion. Sure, it’ll take 640-ish years to get there, and our technology might not be…
42: Life, The Universe, And Everything
Sep 9 • 48 min
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a whimsical, silly, very funny and superbly inaccurately numbered trilogy of five books by Douglas Adams. The books chronicle the adventures of hapless ape-descended Earth human Arthur Dent, who is rescued by his…
Teaser: a special Ep 42 event
Sep 2 • 2 min
Episode 42 is coming up, and this is a little heads-up. If that number has any significance to you, then you’re our people! We’re talking Life, the Universe and Everything, and we have a very special event planned for the occasion. Listen to this teaser…
(Live) The Great Syzygy Space Off!
Aug 13 • 53 min
Emily and Chris compete for fame, glory and nerd points in the first ever Great Syzygy Space Off! Recorded in front of a very large, very patient and very generous audience at York’s Micklegate Social in May 2019. Made possible by our wonderful patrons…
41: Cosmic Microwave Background (Scopes on a Balloon!)
Jul 28 • 53 min
When Chris found out in episode 36 that there was a telescope on an aeroplane, he was joking when he suggested they should try putting one on a balloon. Turns out, that’s a real thing — and it leads to a deep-dive into one of the most fascinating…
40: One Giant Leap
Jul 21 • 65 min
Fifty years ago, a human in a big puffy suit stepped off the bottom rung of a ladder and onto the surface of another world for the first time. Chris and Emily ponder the meaning of that moment, for our species, for science, and for the future of space…
39: Ridiculously Large Telescopes
Jun 30 • 47 min
Telescopes — can they every be big enough? With news of serious progress on the Giant Magellan Telescope in Chile, Emily and Chris natter about Astronomy’s truly big optical scopes. First there were a slew of Large Telescopes. Then came the VLT, the Very…
38: Blue Twinkly Supergiants
Jun 14 • 34 min
Our Sun is a star, and because it’s so close and familiar, we think that’s what stars are like. But there are loads of different kinds of stars out there — small ones, cold ones, hot ones, wobbly ones, and really stupidly BIG ones. Emily gets excited in…
37 (supplemental): Syzygy Film Club!
May 14 • 4 min
Come to Syzygy LIVE! 23 May in York, UK — check the show notes. While recording ep. 37, Emily and Chris had a vent about a few astro-related (or astro-adjacent) hollywood movies of recent years: Gravity, Interstellar, and — from way back in 2004 — the…
37: Crazy Donut Moon Theory
May 11 • 41 min
Come to Syzygy LIVE! 23 May in York, UK — check the show notes. Feels like we really should understand where the Moon came from — it’s so close, so connected to the Earth, so … obvious in the sky! Turns out, the Moon’s origin story isn’t as simple as we…
36: Scopes On A Plane!
May 3 • 35 min
Not long after the big bang started to fade, and the glowing-hot early universe cooled down a bit, things started to clump together. Not planets, stars and galaxies — smaller, much smaller. First, atomic nuclei: Hydrogen, Helium. Then they started to…
35: THAT Black Hole Image
Apr 23 • 46 min
We took an image of a Black Hole! OK, we know, we know — we’re a little late to the party. But we go in deep on this acclaimed image from the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, to find out what this weird donut thing is all about, why it’s NOT an…
34: This System’s Got Everything!
Apr 5 • 34 min
We’re either just about to add the 4000th exoplanet to our catalogues, or we’ve already just done it, depending on whether you believe NASA or the Europeans. Either way — exoplanets galore! So in this episode we celbrate a fascinating story about the Very…
33: Goldilocks Zones around Binary Stars
Mar 21 • 38 min
We wish York’s Astrocampus a very Happy 5th Birthday, and welcome our very first guest star to the podcast: Bethany Wootton, recent graduate who has published an actual, proper research paper from her Masters degree research — a pretty amazing feat.…
32: A Mysterious Box of Asteroid Stuff
Mar 15 • 38 min
Right now, the Japanese space agency JAXA has a spacecraft, Hayabusa2, in orbit around a near-earth asteroid called Ryugu — and they’re doing some crazy stuff up there. First, they’re shooting it with pellets and hoovering up the blasted surface…
31: LIGO Gets An Upgrade
Feb 22 • 57 min
If space-time can curve, then it can also wiggle. Spotting those wiggles, turns out, is *really hard*. A hundred years ago or so, Einstein published his General Theory of Relativity which said that space and time aren’t just the background arena for stuff…
30: Stardust, or Cosmic Poo?
Feb 15 • 39 min
Happy International Year of the Periodic Table, everyone! We’re celebrating 150 years since Mendeleev brought some order to the unruly mess of the elements of matter, organising all of the types of atoms into a system sorted by physics and chemistry: rows…
29: The Serendipitous Rings of Saturn
Feb 8 • 39 min
Saturn. There’s no denying, it’s gorgeous. And for 13 years the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, a joint mission by NASA, the ESA and the ASI, orbited the ringed planet, sending back stunning images of the rings, the many moons and moonlets, and the planet…
28: All Exoplanets Are Exciting
Jan 25 • 46 min
We’re back for 2019! Welcome to another year of awesome astronomy. In this episode we chat about the Super Wolf Blood Moon (a.k.a. “January-lunar-eclipse-that-was-slightly-bigger-than-average”) and the lunar meteorite impacts caught on video during the…
27: Up A Mountain In NZ
Dec 25, 2018 • 23 min
Emily went back to New Zealand for Christmas. Chris is in Yorkshire. One of them is surrounded by summer sunshine and Middle-Earth mountains. One of them … isn’t. Emily reports from the final day of her observing run on what it’s like being an actual,…
26: How To Build A Solar System
Dec 19, 2018 • 40 min
The Earth and the Sun and all the other planets feel like familiar friends who’ve been around forever. Wind the clock back a few billion years though, and things were very different. The infant Sun was prone to highly energetic tantrums, the gas giants…
25: Picture The Sky
Dec 10, 2018 • 48 min
Ever since early humans gazed in wonder at the majesty of the night sky, astronomy has been a particularly visual science. Modern astronomers deal in vast quantities of data, measuring the cosmos with visible light and invisible neutrinos, x-rays and…
24: Black Holes Feeding On Colliding Galaxies
Nov 23, 2018 • 38 min
There are a lot of galaxies in the universe — billions and billions of them, in fact. And many of them are in the process of collision: some collided long ago, some are merging right now, and some will slam together in the distant future. When they…
23: Syzygy Live! from YorNight 2018
Nov 19, 2018 • 41 min
A very special live event from YorNight 2018, the University of York’s celebration of research at beautiful King’s Manor. We talked about exoplanets — that is, planets around other stars — and Emily shared her top three exoplanets of all time. Chris…
22: How To Measure The Universe
Nov 9, 2018 • 48 min
We’ve been so comfortable throwing around facts like “the Sun is 8 light seconds away” and “the nearest star is 4 light years away”, it’s easy to forget that measuring cosmic distances isn’t as simple as pulling out a tape measure. So how *do* you measure…
21: BepiColombo goes to Mercury
Nov 2, 2018 • 45 min
Mercury: closest planet to the Sun, a small, uninteresting lump of rock … or, an enigma, with a strange tidally-locked orbit, a core that’s way too big, and a mysterious origin story that astronomers are slowly piecing together. Which is why it’s Emily’s…
20: Photo of a Black Hole
Oct 26, 2018 • 38 min
At the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy lies a super-massive black hole. We know it’s there, we can detect its effects on the galaxy and see nearby stars whipping around it at high speed. Last year, a worldwide collaboration of astronomers decided to try to…
19: Moons, Exomoons & Moonmoons
Oct 19, 2018 • 42 min
The Kepler mission found loads of exoplanets, and now astronomers are digging deeper into the data in the search for exo*moons* around those planets. All of which sends Chris and Emily on a deep dive into the detail of definitions: what’s a moon, anyway?…
18: Mysterious Planet 9
Oct 11, 2018 • 40 min
We’re back from our summer hiatus with an appropriately Hallowe’eny story about a goblin. Or rather, The Goblin, a tiny lump of rock far out in the Solar System that might just point to the existence of the long-sought, mysterious Planet 9 …
17: Quantum Conspiracy Theory
Sep 28, 2018 • 12 min
Summer holidays are over, though Emily is still running around overseas enjoying the astronomer lifestyle. So Chris shares a story that tickled him this week, about a bunch of physicists and astronomers who showed that if quantum theory is just a cosmic…
Episode 16: Einstein at the Heart of the Galaxy
Aug 10, 2018 • 37 min
There’s a monster deep in the heart of the Milky Way Galaxy. Even though we can’t see it, we know it’s there … because it has to be. Over two decades, astronomers have pointed very large telescopes, including The Very Large Telescope, toward the galactic…
Episode 15: A Salty Lake on Mars
Aug 3, 2018 • 34 min
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: astronomers announced in July that they’d found water on Mars. No, seriously. I know they’ve said something that sounds like that before, but this is different — this is *liquid* water. Probably. See, previously…
Episode 14: Total Eclipse of the Moon
Jul 26, 2018 • 37 min
Around 9pm (local UK time) on Friday 27 July 2018, the full moon will rise over the horizon. But this full moon will be a bit special: it’ll be a deep red colour, because we’re going to experience a total lunar eclipse! C’mon people, get outside! A lunar…
Episode 13: Neutrino Messenger from a Distant Blazar
Jul 20, 2018 • 35 min
In September 2017, two kilometres deep beneath the South Pole, a tiny but very speedy neutrino collided with an atom in the ice and created a flash of light. The flash was picked up by a few of the more than 5,000 photodetectors that comprise the IceCube…
Episode 12: The Light Fantastic
Jul 5, 2018 • 36 min
A question from a listener leads us into some very tall weeds as we ponder the nature of light: what is it, exactly? It is a wave? Or a particle? Or, somehow, both at once? And photons, the massless particles that apparently make up all light: if they’ve…
Episode 11: Black Hole Eats Star, Then Burps
Jun 29, 2018 • 44 min
Black holes: a staple of quality science fiction for decades now … but what actually *are* they? Awesome, is one answer. Astronomers reported a few weeks ago fresh evidence for a black hole tearing a star apart in a distant galaxy — gruesome, sure, but…
Episode 10: So you want to be an astronomer?
Jun 22, 2018 • 44 min
It’s episode 10! We celebrate with cake and a chat about how how astronomers become astronomers. Emily describes her (slightly unusual and a bit cheeky) path to her current career as Astronomer Extraordinaire and Director of the University of York’s…
Episode 09: Life on Mars?
Jun 15, 2018 • 38 min
A few weeks ago NASA gathered journalists from across the globe for an announcement about something they’d found on Mars. Naturally, the collective imagination went *nuts*, because surely, SURELY this was going to be The Big Announcement: finally, the…
Episode 08: The Frozen Dunes of Pluto
Jun 8, 2018 • 38 min
At the XXVIth General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union, held in Praague in August 2006, a new set of three criteria were decided to define what is — and what is emphatically *not* — a planet. Infamously, Pluto fulfilled only two of the…
Episode 07 (supplemental): Octopuses from Space!
Jun 1, 2018 • 7 min
So, apparently, octopuses come from space. Or something. Emily and Chris chat about a … curious … paper that came out recently, which proposes an explanation for the Cambrian Explosion, the huge increase in diversity of life across the planet 500 million…
Episode 07: Plumes of Ice on Europa
May 25, 2018 • 43 min
Some astronomers found signs of great plumes of water erupting from the surface of Europa, one of the larger moons of Jupiter — and water could mean life, which has everyone jumping around in excitement. The best bit? They found the evidence buried deep…
Episode 06: Galaxy Pile Up Causes Cosmic Chaos!
May 20, 2018 • 32 min
Astronomers have spotted a cluster of 14 galaxies far, far away, so piled up on top of each other, and so soon after the Big Bang, that they’re forcing the theorists to check back over their models and simulations of how the universe evolved. It’s an…
Episode 05: Diamonds from Space!
May 4, 2018 • 31 min
Back in 2008 a large chunk of rock hurtled into the Earth’s atmosphere. Most of it burned up on the way down, but some fragments of the meteorite landed in the deserts of Sudan. When scientists open up those fragments and examined them under a microscope,…
Episode 04: The Music Of The Stars
Apr 27, 2018 • 32 min
TESS made it! The little satellite with the big heart is now in space, gradually getting into its final orbit to start gathering data. And Emily is excited, because alongside all the exoplanet data TESS will be taking, it’s going to collect all sorts of…
Episode 03: Holding Our Breath For TESS!
Apr 19, 2018 • 38 min
After a quick listener question from Graham in Highfields, Australia, this week’s show is all about TESS: The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. TESS is a brand new space telescope that, at the time of recording, was sitting atop a SpaceX Falcon 9…
Episode 02: Dark Matter Is Out There, Even When It’s Not
Apr 13, 2018 • 29 min
A cosmic riddle for you: When does not finding something where you expect to it to be tell you that it exists? In the 1960s and 70s, astronomers measured the speed of stars and gas clouds orbiting at the edge of our galaxy, and discovered something…
Episode 01: Planets, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
Apr 5, 2018 • 33 min
In this, the first proper episode of Syzygy, we’re talking planets: near, far, and very, very far. While the number of planets in our own solar system went from nine to eight (poor Pluto …), over the last few decades astronomers have found hundreds — no,…
Episode 00: A Syzygy Sneak Peek
Apr 3, 2018 • 3 min
syz·y·gy (sĭz′ə-jē), noun: an alignment of three celestial bodies, such as the sun, moon, and earth during an eclipse. Also: a podcast wherein real-life, actual astronomer Dr Emily Brunsden from the University of York and not-astronomer but enthusiastic…