Astrophiz 96: Prof Geraint Lewis – ‘Are We Alone?’

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Astrophiz 96: Our feature interview today is with Dr Geraint Lewis who is a Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Sydney, and whose research includes cosmology and galactic archaeology. Today he is going to help us look at the existential question “Are We Alone”
Also I’ll remind listeners that this is our last episode for 2019 before we take our holiday break, but we’ll be back in early February 2020, and if you are not already, there is another great Astronomy podcast you should listen to and that is The Skyentists with our friends Dr Ángel López-Sánchez, a Spanish-Australian astrophysicist working at the Australian Astronomical Optics (AAO) and in the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the Macquarie University in Sydney and the wonderful indigenous astrophysicist Kirsten Banks, who has just completed her Honours year and embarking on her PhD in astrophysics
Listen In, you’ll love their work!
And don’t forget to check out the cool space website at spaceaustralia-DOT-com
 
In the sky for observers and astrophotographers:
Our regular feature ‘What’s Up Doc’ is with Dr Ian ‘Astroblog’ Musgrave. He previews the excellent observing opportunities over the next two months, and he gives us a good look at our first interstellar comet 2IBorisov
 
In the News:
.1. On Nov. 11, SpaceX launched 60 “Starlink” satellites into low-earth orbit, bringing its total constellation size to 122 — already one of the largest satellite networks in space. The company has approval to launch 12,000 of the small broadband satellites, and SpaceX has just asked the International Telecommunication Union to arrange spectrum for 30,000 additional Starlink satellites. This could mean the end for dark skies for observers, amateur and professional optical astronomers, and there is considerable concern that certain RF wavelength bands could become polluted for radio astronomy research worldwide.
For those interested in tracking these #SkyBlemishes, go to Satflare-DOT-com
.2. Nineteen newly discovered dwarf galaxies seem to be missing their dark matter, and physicists aren’t sure why.
The find dramatically increases the number of galaxies that appear to be missing dark matter, the mysterious, invisible stuff that exerts gravitational pull, yet emits no light. Dark Matter is thought to be a key ingredient in galaxy formation, with its gravity pulling together atoms of gas to form galaxies. We can tell dark matter is present in a galaxy because it makes the matter in that galaxy swirl faster than it would if the matter we see made up the galaxy’s whole mass. This faster swirling has shown up in every galaxy that could be precisely measured. Recently, however, researchers have found that certain small galaxies, now including these 19, behave as if they’re dominated by baryons — the particles that make up ordinary matter. The evidence for their unseen halos of dark matter is missing. This in turn has the potential to challenge the standard cosmological model for galaxy formation.
.3. China’s lunar rover Yutu-2 has driven 345.06 meters on the far side of the moon to conduct scientific exploration. Both the lander and the rover of the Chang’e-4 probe have ended their work for the 12th lunar day, and switched to dormant mode for the lunar night. Due to the rugged and heavily cratered terrain on the far side of the moon, engineers are carefully planning the routes of the rover to ensure its safety.
Also as part of this mission, The Netherlands-China Low Frequency  radio telescope at the far side of the moon is now operational. The three 5 meters long monopole antennas which make up the radio telescope have unfolded after a year of orbiting the Moon. The receivers are sensitive to radio frequencies in the range between 80 kHz and 80 MHz. The Chang’e-4 mission was launched in December 2018 and will have its first birthday in two days. Happy Birthday to the Chang’e-4 mission
***Our Next Episodes:***
In the New Year, (early February) we will talk with Dr Belinda Nicholson over in the UK, then Wael Farah on his use of AI to capture FRB signals from MOST in real time, and we have lined up alien communication specialist researcher Daniel Oberhaus, who is the author of his new book ‘Extraterrestrial Languages’.
And then in March 2020 we will have our milestone 100th episode and we are thrilled to confirm Dr Vanessa Moss will be our guest for this special episode.
We’re also hoping to have Clint Jeffrey on the show to talk about ‘First Light’ for the Astronomical Society of Victoria’s new 8m Radio Telescope up in a quiet zone in central Victoria.

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