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Sky Crew: A Cosmic Crash Ushers In A New Era in Astronomy

neutron_merger.jpg
Image: Carnegie Institution for Science
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A rendering of the neutron star merger at the moment of impact.

Gravitational waves from two colliding neutron stars 130 million million light-years away were detected recently, and this cosmic event has sparked an astronomy revolution. The Sky  Crew returns to explain what the cosmic tells us about how heavy elements like gold, platinum and uranium were formed,  and what it means for the future of astronomy.  We check in on how NASA is improving the odds of identifying habitable exoplanets, plus another discovery, a "quasi-satellite." And we look at a Planet Nine conspiracy theory!

GUESTS:

  • Mal Cameron - former astronomy and space educator at the McAuliffe Shepard Discovery Center and coordinator of its NASA Educator Resource Center.
  • John Gianforte –astronomy instructor and UNH Observatory Director; co-founder of the "Astronomical Society" of northern New England.
  • Nicole Gugliucci -Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Saint Anselm College.

#kilonova

Here's NASA's visualization of doomed neutron stars whirling towards their demise:

This video from the Australian National University offers a quick but comprehensive explanation of what  scientists were able to see and why it's important:

Read the New York Times coverage of the discovery of the neutron stars colliding, which more than one researcher described as "the holy grail."

Exoplanets, and Planet 9
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Credit NASA
Artist’s concept of an unknown large planet, far from its sun, via NASA.

planet_nine.png
Credit Source: (Diagram) G. Grullón/Science.
Here is a diagram showing some of the orbits of some Kuiper Belt Objects (L91, FT28, SR349 etc.) that point to the presence of planet nine. It also shows a possible orbit for planet nine.

NASA needs your help searching for new objects at the edge of our solar system. Help scan the realm beyond Neptune for brown dwarfs and Planet Nine with the Backyard Worlds project.

The BFR
bfr.jpg
Credit SpaceX
BFR 'Earth-to-Earth' trips - anywhere on the planet in under an hour.

Elon Musk proposes to use SpaceX's BFR to travel around Earth.