Organization: Travelers in The Night
Description: Today’s 2 topics:
Bio: Dr. Al Grauer is currently an observing member of the Catalina Sky Survey Team at the University of Arizona. This group has discovered nearly half of the Earth approaching objects known to exist. He received a PhD in Physics in 1971 and has been an observational Astronomer for 43 years. He retired as a University Professor after 39 years of interacting with students. He has conducted research projects using telescopes in Arizona, Chile, Australia, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Georgia with funding from NSF and NASA.
He is noted as Co-discoverer of comet P/2010 TO20 Linear-Grauer, Discoverer of comet C/2009 U5 Grauer and has asteroid 18871 Grauer named for him.
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20 -A Serendipitous Supernova in M82
As the Earth rotates on its axis and orbits the Sun, our view in the midnight direction, scans the amazing content of the Universe. Many stars, galaxies, and other objects seem to be the same year after year giving us the idea that things are static out there. Every once in a while a new object bursts into view producing a “what is that” feeling.
2014 came to life and became exciting for a group of astronomy students when they discovered a bright new star in the irregular galaxy M82. In the city of London in England, Ben Cooke, Tom Wright, Matthew Wilde and Guy Pollack set up a small 10 inch telescope on a partly cloudy night to experiment with imaging. They were assisted by teaching fellow Stephen J. Fossey. The group was astonished when a star, which did not show up on any of their charts, stared brightly at them. They reported their discovery and telescopes all over the world responded to gather additional data.
The object which the students discovered was given the name SN 2014 J. It is approximately 11 and 1/2 million light years from us. It is an imploding white dwarf from which material is being ejected at a speed of 20,000 Km/sec. A type IA supernova like this one always has the same absolute brightness and can be used to measure distances in the Universe.
One of the great joys in Astronomy is no matter if you spend 15 minutes or your entire life studying the Universe there is always something new to learn.
24 – Asteroid 2013 TV 135
Asteroid 2013 TV 135 passed about 4 million miles from Earth on September 16, 2013. It was discovered on October 8, 2013 by astronomers at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in Ukraine. It is approximately 1300 feet in diameter and has a path that takes it from the Earth’s orbit to out near Jupiter.
It travels around the Sun with a period of about 4 years. This means that we need to have data over a time span to be able to have an accurate orbital path for it.
During the first week after it was discovered there appeared to be a slight chance rated at 1 in 63,000 that it would impact the Earth in 2032. By the end of October the data which had been accumulated suggested that the odds of impact were about 1 chance in 5000. This began to look serious since an impact by this object would release the energy of 3,200 megatons of TNT. This is about 55 times the explosive energy of the largest hydrogen bomb ever exploded and would likely devastate a large area of the Earth’s surface. Fortunately as the observed length of the arc of 2013 TV 135’s orbit increased the chances of its colliding with our planet decreased dramatically. When we had accumulated 25 days of data the impact risk was down to 1 in 169 million. It will be followed carefully to make sure that it remains no threat to planet Earth.
For Travelers in the Night this is Dr. Al Grauer.
End of podcast:
365 Days of Astronomy
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