Astronomy, Science, Space, and Stuff.
Space Nuts Episode 248 with Professor Fred Watson & Andrew Dunkley
●A quick Ingenuity update…
●Have we got the universal model wrong? It’s possible…analysing the particle physics…
●New findings on the aurora of...
Space Nuts 248 AI Transcript
[00:00:00] 15 seconds. Guidance is internal gen nine ignition sequence
to nurse as the magic word. It feels good. Hello, once again, it's us. Uh, thanks for joining us on the space nuts podcast. My name's Andrew Dekker, your host, and with me as always. Well, actually, he's not there now. Professor Fred Watson wrote lodge. I was just introducing you when you walked away is all well it's URIs day to day.
Yes. I knew that he, he knew it, but I did
you, uh, well, okay, good. Yes. Yeah. That's right. But the 60th that's absolutely right. Yes. Uh, we should see how professional we are. We started. Yeah, perfectly today. Perfectly. Hello, Marty new money. Come here. Cause I've got the headphones in. [00:01:00] That's okay to say hello? Yeah. Hi Andrew. How are you? I'm good. How are you?
Somebody actually asked the other day if we could get you on the podcast again, because they, they, um, they liked the dark skies project and, and everything you do. And I said, well, Yeah, this was Misty West over in the United States. And I said, well, actually, you know, we should get her on again. So there she is.
Hello. Say hello to me. Hello everybody happy dark sky week, last day of dark sky weeks. It's a huge wake. Isn't it. And, and of course URIs day refers to Eureka garden because, uh, today's the anniversary. Uh, it is the 12th of April that we're recording this, uh, that he made it his, um, Epic journey into space.
He was up there for what was it? 108 minutes or something. That was all, yeah. And it would've been a lot less light pollution from space astronauts seen today. So I'll leave you. [00:02:00] Thanks. Thanks. . Thank you. So after that, um, rather unusual start, we introduce professor Fred Watson astronomer at large. Hello, Fred.
Oh, we are so perfect. Oh yeah. It's a ripper. It's an absolute river, but I'm glad she I'm glad Marnie came in and reminded me of that because I did, I did talk about it on my radio show this morning about Eureka gardens, uh, Epic flight and uh, yes, 19 six 61. And you know, that was one of the things that. I was still at school then and thinking, what should I do with my life?
Ah, I know there was any quizzes that there was an eclipse in the February and I thought, yeah, I think this is going to be my career. But one year he went into space that just clenched it, I have to say. Yeah. And it kind of was a wake up call for the United States because I know there were toying with the idea of space travel, but, um, having the Russians [00:03:00] get up there at such a tense time between the two countries.
Kind of went, Whoa, wait a minute. We've got to do something about this. So it all began. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, and it's such a sad end to it. Yeah. That's an incredible achievement when, um, uh, when he died too, he, um, you would think doing something as dangerous as going into orbit for the first time would probably put you on the brink of, uh, some untimely death.
But, uh, it all went awry on the ground, basically. Did he did, did they not die in the neck crash? It was an aircraft. Yeah. I mean, yeah. Yeah, it was, um, it was a very, I think they've done an inquest that has since suggested that his death was attributed to, um, turbulence from another aircraft. Yeah. So that's, that's the way I read it, but, um, yeah, uh, he will never be forgotten for what he achieved 60 years ago.
So, um, [00:04:00] Yeah, it's URIs day to day, the 12th of April now, Fred, um, after that quite, uh, straight down the line and beginning to the program episode 248, uh, we're going to just have a quick word about ingenuity because that's just about to happen and may well have happened by the time you hear this. Uh, we're also going to analyze, um, some particle physics.
Uh, because it it's possible. We've got the universal model wrong possible. Uh, some new findings about the Aurora of Jupiter and some audience questions from Richard in Brisbane and Tom in Toronto Canadia. I know they hate it when I say that, but yeah, we'll do all that. Um, but let's, uh, talk about ingenuity again.
We've been talking about it every week for the last few weeks, but that's because it's starting to really get close to this. Um, This, uh, uh, impending launch of a helicopter on Mars. And hopefully, [00:05:00] hopefully by the time this podcast is out there in the ether, it will have happened in being successful. Yeah, we hope so.
Um, the, the news we have as of today is that a test? Um, I think a couple of days ago, um, Uh, to, uh, test fly. The rotor was aborted by the, um, the, uh, helicopters onboard computer, which I don't like it, uh, it, it was as they were trying to rev up there, uh, you know, th these rotors go around at 2,400 RPM so that they can buy it, the Martian, the thin Martian atmosphere.
And it was while that was happening, that this computer detected some kind of. Uh, issue, um, which was not necessarily a problem, but I think there's something called a watchdog timer that shut the thing down because of a potential problem. Uh, and so presumably there'll be lots and lots [00:06:00] of, um, you know, lots and lots of, um, Uh, uh, uh, uh, postmortems about that to find out what it was.
But as far as we know, the first flight is now rescheduled to Wednesday this week. Uh, which means that that'll probably be Thursday our time, uh, here in Australia. Uh, and so yeah, if you're listening to this and it's happened, that's fantastic. And I hope. The news is good. We'll report on it next week.
Probably. Yes, yes, indeed. Yeah. It's um, we we've had to record early this week because of impending travels. So, um, yeah, we, we couldn't wait until the, uh, the actual event before we could record, but, uh, yeah, hopefully everything went swimmingly. Um, although if something goes wrong, they can't ditch on Mars.
Cause there's nothing to land in as far as water's concerned, but, uh, yes, fingers crossed for, uh, for ingenuity. Inaugural flight, which, uh, has got so many people excited. It's getting a lot of chatter across social media on, uh, some of the astronomical and space, Facebook pages and [00:07:00] Instagram pages and so on.
And the news, I mean, just, you put ingenuity into your search engine and press the news, this button and just get this list and lists long list of stories. So, yeah, and it is, um, quite a. Uh, an astonishing piece of ingenuity, um, if they pull it off and I'm hopeful, I'm very confident they will, and very hopeful, uh, right.
Let's move on to our, uh, next story, Fred. And this, this is, um, About some experiments that have been done, uh, some dating back some decade and a half in regard to a Saba, a subatomic particle particle called a muon. Uh, and, and this sort of tells the story of, um, the, the way this particular particle has been behaving, which.
Has got a few people scratching their heads because it's not doing what they thought it should do. And that's led to some speculation that we might have the model of the universe wrong. And they've just released some new data. As at this month, [00:08:00] the 7th of April, that puts a little bit more weight behind what might be happening and whether or not we have got the universal model wrong.
What, w w what's your take on this? I know you've been following this story. Yeah, that's right. So the. The bottom line, uh, is that, uh, for some time there's two laboratories involved here. Um, one is the, uh, the, let me get this right. Brookhaven national robot laboratory. Uh, and 15 years ago, they. Basically discovered something odd about neurons.
Excuse me. Now neurons are one of the, uh, suite of is actually 17 subatomic particles. If you, if you don't count the anti-matter particles, it goes up quite a bit if you put them in as well. Uh, but, and of course that particles with opposite electrical charge to the normal ones. So, uh, the 17 particles.
When you include the Higgs boson, um, you [00:09:00] onto one of those, that suite of, uh, fundamental particles, excuse me, they're a bit like electrons, but. Different. There are what are called leptons that puts them in a category, which is different from the quarks, which are, I think a bit bigger if my understanding is right, you ons are very important in our understanding of them is fairly complete.
They come in to the center as far as cosmic rays. That's sort of where the story started, you know, 60, 70 years ago. And in fact, probably more like 80 years ago. So they were behaving in a strange way. Um, and the, the. The issue is actually to do with the way they behave, behave in magnetic fields and the way they move.
And it's all about spinning and things of that sort. Uh, I've lost the page that I was looking at all this, I don't know where it is on my screen. Uh, so I'm, I'm winging this, but, uh, the, the, the, the. The real issue now is that, [00:10:00] uh, Fermi lab, which is a high energy laboratory in the United States have effectively confirmed that original measurement, that there is something wrong with the.
With our understanding of the, you know, the, the way the neurons behave. Why is that important just for a start? Well it's because, uh, if you, if you look at what we do call the standard model, which has the 17 particles and the charge and magnetic field are all very, very, very well understood as is the strengthened an orientation of the magnetic field, which is something called a magnetic moment.
And so, you know, all those. All of those things are well understood, but this new on behavior is confounding that, and this is why people. Do particle physics experiments, Andrew, because what we're really looking for is holes in the standard model. [00:11:00] Things that don't fit, because we know from observations principally of the universe, the astronomy stuff, which is why we're talking about this.
Um, we know that there are things that we simply don't understand dark matter and dark energy being the two, uh, perhaps the two biggest dark matter is some kind of subatomic particle. We believe whose identity is completely unknown. Um, there were theories called supersymmetry a few years ago that suggested that these were particles that fit into this super symmetric framework.
And axions, and neutrinos were the two things that were being suggested, but there's no evidence that they exist until you crack the standard model and find gaps where new physics could creep in. You can't invoke these wild theoretical ideas because that was all there. So that's why it was exciting. And last week there was a news release from Fermilab that said they've confirmed, basically confirmed the Brookhaven national laboratory result, that there is [00:12:00] something that we don't understand, and that gets everybody excited.
Uh, the, the standard model is. You know, what, what, um, what, what, what we're really trying to pull to pieces in a sense. And then of course, um, when, when physicists, uh, particle physicists get excited, it goes something like. Jay look at that fridge. Yeah. Wow. Larry, that's pretty impressive. Yeah, you probably hit the now
I think astronomers get more excited actually, because maybe sometimes at the telescope, the same joke about, um, meteorology the other day, but you know, it's recyclable. Yeah. I strongly would say, gosh, I'd say that at golf a lot too. So that's the exciting bit. And I, you know, I have to say, uh, on my reading of this, um, I, I thought, yeah, good on them, this fantastic.
And so the plan to do more experiments, [00:13:00] however, um, on, I think it was yesterday or the day before. 10th of April. Yeah. Um, over the weekend, uh, essentially a new paper was published. Um, and I'm not reading that paper. I'm actually reading from the conversation article that goes with it. Um, this is by. A group of theoretical physicists.
So they're the ones who build the mathematical framework within which these things operate. And they have essentially, um, looked at the theory again to see whether that's right. Um, they put, they put, um, Yeah. So th th th th the author of that is a gentleman called Salton photo who's at Penn state university.
And he put, he put it very, very nicely, um, in his conversation article, uh, when the results of an experiment don't much predictions made by the best theory of the day, something is off. 15 years ago, physicists at Brookhaven national [00:14:00] laboratory discovered something perplexing, nuance, the type of subatomic particle and moving in unexpected ways that didn't match theoretical predictions was the theory wrong.
Was the experiment off or tantalizingly was this evidence of new physics. And so. What they've done that while I'll read on actually, cause he puts it in a nutshell. Physicists have been trying to solve this mystery ever since one group from family lab tackle the experimental side and on the 7th of April 20, 21 released results confirming the original measurements.
But my colleagues and I. Took a different approach. Um, and I'll read on, I am a theoretical physicist and the spokesperson, and one of two coordinators of the Budapest, Marcell collaboration. This is a large scale collaboration of physicists who have been trying to see if the older theoretical prediction was incorrect.
And we used a new method to calculate how [00:15:00] neurons interact. With my magnetic fields. That's a long quote from the conversation article, but it absolutely sums it up. What they've done is said, well, wait a minute, you know, let, okay. The experiment doesn't agree with the theory. And you've checked the experiment by bringing in this grand new firmly lab results to the, to the table.
What about the theory is the theory. Uh, absolutely watertight. And so they, uh, this group, uh, have read revamp the theory. They've looked at it again. And what they say is my team's theoretical prediction is different from the original theory and matches both the old experimental evidence and the new Fermi lab data.
If our calculation is correct, it resolves the discrepancy between. Theory and experiment. Um, it would suggest that there is not an undiscovered force of nature. So it's a real, a real cold water paper. This I have to say, [00:16:00] but you know, um, this is what you've got to do when you're. Probing really what you might call the final secrets of the universe, the little things like higher dimensions, all the things that we wonder if we're seeing signs of where the dark, when you're doing all that, you've just got to be sure that everything's correct.
And certainly this group believed that the theory, the previous theory was wrong and their new theory matches the, uh, the results that they're getting. So new physics disappears. I am sure that there will be much debate. In the physics world about this. Um, and, uh, you know, it's one of these things that will not be resolved easily.
There'll be people taking sides on it and arguing the task. Um, meanwhile more experiments will be done and maybe the results will be, uh, Hardened up, but if it's the theory, is that it's wrong. That's not going to get you anywhere. So we're in a kind of stalemate position. Andrew, I think it's very interesting, you know, it's a really exciting [00:17:00] piece of physics, but it might not mean yet that we can.
Put our hands on our hearts and say, we know what dark matter is. So what their suggest, what the, you know, the theories were suggesting, whereas that nuance we're acting in appropriately, or just doing weird things that they didn't expect. But now a new paper suggests hang on a minute. They're actually doing what they're supposed to do.
That's exactly right. Yeah. Yeah. All right. Well that throws out my theory that golf balls are made of nuance. It must be some other, some other subatomic particle that we don't know about yet. Well, because they, my golf balls act inappropriately quite often. But they do have in common. I mean, new ones travel at almost the speed of light.
I believe he was as well. Is that my golf balls only make a hundred miles an hour, which is very sad. Very sad, indeed. But I think there'll probably be more on this because it's, it's one of those pioneering areas. Uh, science and, [00:18:00] um, astronomy and physics that they're just trying to figure out. And of course at the top of the tree at the moment, dark matter and dark energy, and yeah, we we're sort of only scratching the surface on the surface on figuring all this out, your listening to and watching.
Yeah. Space nuts podcast, episode 248 with the great Fred Watson and my good self Andrew Dunkley.
Thanks for joining us on the space and that's podcast, Andrew Dunkley here with Fred Watson and thank you to our patrons. Uh, we've had a few more sign up and we really appreciate your support. You can, uh, become a patron, uh, through patrion.com through super cast, uh, or you can make a donation through PayPal.
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We're ultimately aiming to make it fully listened to supported. So the more patrons we can sign up. Um, you know, the, the closer we are to that target. So jump on our website space and that's podcast.com and click on the subscribe button for more information. Okay, Fred, uh, let's talk about Jupiter. We haven't spoken about Jupiter in a little while.
I don't think, but, uh, it looks like. Uh, they've made some interesting discoveries or a discovery about it's, um, uh, rural displays. Now we know what they are. The aurorae a very, very popular and a tourist attraction. In fact, you have many times taking people on tours to see the Aurora. Borealis, uh, up in the Northern hemisphere, of course, we've got the Aurora Aurora Australia's, uh, down our way, which is much harder to say because of the Antarctic region.
It's a bit more difficult to, uh, to get to, but, uh, yeah, the other planets have these as well, but they've made [00:20:00] some new, uh, discoveries have new insights into what's happening around Jupiter. Yeah. And this is a story in a way that parallels what we've just been talking about, Andrew, because. We've been talking about the magnetic few fields of Meuron's, which are, uh, subatomic particles.
Uh, now we're talking about the magnetic field of the biggest planet in the solar system. So it's the same topic, but going from one, uh, one side to another. So, uh, the thing that has been puzzling about Jupiter's Rory, uh, is. That unlike the earth, uh, the, uh, Rory occur of, uh, a broad area of Jupiter's polar caps.
So let me just pick that a bit to use a modern term, which I don't like really. Uh, let me explain it a bit. Um, Oh, the dogs just walked past the window here. Uh, [00:21:00] Somebody's dog, you know, we live next door to a vet. You never know what's going to happen. Um, the probably saw the scalpel and bolted maybe. So, uh, on earth, the Rory occur in what's called the auroral circle, which really are their oral.
Overlies actually what it's called, which explains it all. So they don't happen at the magnetic pole itself that they happen in a ring. Around the magnetic pole centered on the magnetic pole, that's where the Aurora or at the strongest and the it's a sort of naive explanation, but this is kind of the case.
Um, the reason for that is to do with the magnetic field lines of the magnetic field. And I mean, I guess we're all familiar with what happens to iron filings. When you've got a bar magnet, you put the bar magnet down and the iron filings trace out the magnetic field and the field lines normally. Run from the North pole around the [00:22:00] outside and come back into the South pole and they are called closed field lines.
Cause they're closed. They, they, they end up both ends of them are on the magnet, same with the earth, but there are what are called open field lines as well, which are field lines. It just head off into space. And you can sort of imagine that that will be the case. And so the open field lines are the ones inside their oral circle.
And so that's why you don't see a Rory there because the, the, the, um, subatomic particles from the sun are not spiraling down like they do in the, uh, in the auroral oval region and lighting up. The atmosphere by exciting the atoms of the, of the atmosphere. So that's why it's an auroral oval because of where the field lines actually go into the earth.
Now, Jupiter is different because apparently on Jupiter, you get a Rory within the whole of the polar cap. It's not just within that auroral circle. And this is. [00:23:00] Until now has been the puzzle. Um, and there is, uh, some new research. She seems to shed light on it. And it comes from sorry, a number of institutions, including the university of Alaska Fairbanks geophysical Institute and the university of Hong Kong.
A number of collaborations, actually, 13 researchers I think have made. This key discovery about the Aurora. Um, once again, it's, it depends on theoretical models. We've talked a lot about theoretical models today, but the theory is that Rory only occupy this zone where the magnetic field lines actually close up and disappear into the air, uh, and not elsewhere, but the new theory that these, uh, scientists have propounded.
Is, uh, essentially, um, one that, uh, says the Rory [00:24:00] con can actually occur elsewhere. They can occur in open field lines. So, um, let me. Let me once again, read, uh, from Archer, this is, uh, this is a piece not written by these, um, actually this, yeah, so I can read it legitimately. It comes from the university of Alaska Fairbanks.
It is their press release and it says, um, Jupiter has a polar cap in which the Aurora dazzles, but has puzzled scientists. The problem is that researchers were so. Earth centric in their thinking about Jupiter, because what they've learned about the other sort of magnetic field. Um, so what they've done is used computer modeling to help their research revealed a largely closed polar region.
That means. Uh, where the field lines are going back into Jupiter, where the small Crescent shaped area of open flux. That means where the field lines are going out into space [00:25:00] accounting for only about 9% of the polar region that the rest was active with the Rora signifying close magnetic. Field lines, but Jupiter, it turns out possesses a mix of open and closed field lines in the polar caps.
Um, and, um, Dr. made this comment. There was no model or no understanding to explain how you could have a Crescent of open flux. Like this simulation is producing. He said it just never even entered my mind. I don't think anybody in the community could have imagined this solution yet the simulation has produced it.
Uh, to me, this is a major paradigm shift for the way that we understand magnetospheres that's the, the, you know, the, the magnetic region around planets. Um, It really, it raises many questions about how the solar wind interact with Jupiter's magnetosphere and influences the dynamics. So basically, you know, you've got a situation quite different from the earth.
And what they're putting that down to [00:26:00] is possibly the rapidity of Jupiter's rotation. Cause it, Jupiter goes around once every 10 hours and do compared with Al once in 24 hours. Plus the fact that you've got this enormous magnetic field. Uh, around Jupiter. So very, very large, um, uh, magnetosphere. Um, and so what they're suggesting is that they reduce the impact of the solar wind, and it means that perhaps the magnetic field lines are more likely to be closed up on Jupiter.
Um, it's that there is the other. There's another thing about Jupiter though. That's weird. And we know that this comes about because of spacecraft measurements, budge, Jupiter's moon, EO, or IO, which is the innermost moon, highly volcanically active. It's kind of electrically linked to Jupiter, uh, because you can see.
Uh, transfer of material between along the magnetic field lines from EO to Jupiter itself, in fact to the [00:27:00] polar cap. So there's all kinds of complexities there, but at least there is something that is better understood because of this theoretical model of Jupiter's magnetosphere. Hmm. Mmm. You talk about the magnetic field of Jupiter and obviously trying to think of Jupiter.
The way we think of earth was probably always going to run it, run us into a brick wall because they're very, very different planets. Is Jupiter's magnetic field generated in a different way to that of earth. We think it's probably the same, but you're absolutely right to focus on that because we don't know what set in the middle of Jupiter.
Um, um, I mean the Earth's magnetic field is generated by the iron core, uh, and that. Seems to be likely that something like that will be at the middle of Jupiter. Um, but it might not be iron. Uh, some people postulate that Jupiter has a core of metallic hydrogen work, that one out that's turned into [00:28:00] a metal, um, which would be conducting.
So, you know, that. Might also generate the magnetic field, but honestly we don't know. Do you know the Juno spacecraft, which is still active around Jupiter? One of its tasks is actually probing the innermost secrets of Jupiter in terms of its core. If it has one, if it has a solid core, we don't even know that it has it solid core.
Um, but it seems likely given the magnetic field you've got, that's got to come from somewhere. So we might know more when. Juno's mission is finished. Uh, I mean, there are probably papers that are coming out on this now that haven't really been keeping up with, but, um, uh, it's uh, prob probably our best, um, assistance to understanding what's going on with Jupiter is the Juno spacecraft.
Yes, indeed. All right. Well, uh, It's taken a while, but we've suddenly decided we need to treat Jupiter, like something that it's not akin to earth, which makes sense. I'm aware of a Rocky planet. It's a, it's a guest giant. I know. It's what is [00:29:00] it? 11 closely related, second cousins. Twice removed. Yeah. So that's true, but made yep.
What it has in common is it was made from the same cloud of gas and dust. So, um, you kind of know what it's made of, but you don't know what, you know, how that's distributed with within. Within Jupiter. We don't know what lies beneath, but yeah, some fascinating findings. This is spacing. That's the podcast about space, space, science, astronomy, and all sorts of other stuff.
Thanks for joining us on episode 248.
Space nuts. This is spacing that's episode 248 with Andrew Dunkley and Fred Watson. Uh, Fred, the other day, somebody pointed out that for two weeks in a row, we both wore pink shirts. We did. Did we do it on purpose? No, it was a complete accident, but I noticed today we're both. Wearing Navy blue. Yep. [00:30:00] Yep. So of course, if you follow us on YouTube, you would be aware of that because you can watch us.
I don't know why you'd want to see our faces. Um, my wife doesn't want to see my face most days, but, uh, Uh, thank you to our YouTube followers, uh, or 1.6, 5,000 of you. And, um, you know, if you know anybody else who wants to follow us on YouTube, let them know because, uh, the numbers are ever growing. And, uh, we, uh, are just about.
Fred. This is really exciting news. We're just about to crack a million downloads of the podcast. Ooh, I knew that would come as a surprise to you. At last count. We down we'd had 984,000 downloads. So probably by the end of the month or into may. We will probably crack the million. So thank you to everyone who's been supporting the podcast and for, for listening, for as long as you have, and many have been listening for a long [00:31:00] time, some from the very beginning, Some from about episode 70, um, and some started today.
And if you are one of those welcome hope you stick around and enjoy the podcast. Uh, whatever platform you listen on, whether it's, um, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Stitcher, um, There's a long list of them, whatever your favorite platform is, you'll probably find us, uh, and it's time to do some questions, Fred, so let's get straight into it.
Uh, and we start with Richard in Brisbane. Hi, Fred and Andrew Richard here from Brisbane. How's that's a coincidence cause that's where I thought he was from. Uh, lovely. I love the content. Love the dad jokes that Andrew seems to have an endless supply of. It's very sad and true. My questions are in regard to dwarf galaxies, question one, is there a common type of galactic center for dwarf galaxies?
I imagine they have some sort of central massive object, but is it a supermassive black hole or a solar mass? Black hole [00:32:00] acquires are something else entirely or nothing at all. And question two, when a dwarf galaxy mergers with another galaxy, such as the Milky way, what happens to the central massive object?
I assume it's eventually absorbed by the supermassive black hole of the larger galaxy. And if that, so does it separate from the dwarf galaxies remnant stars or do they get sucked in together? Question two and a half, uh, add to this. What happens when two dwarf galaxies merge. Thanks for doing the job.
You do guys. Please keep it up. Well, we were about to stop, but yeah. Okay. We'll keep going. Just because of you, Richard, uh, let's start with, um, is there a common type of galactic center for dwarf galaxies? Yeah, it's a really interesting question. And, um, there probably is. And, uh, so I. You know, did a bit of research on this question, um, because, uh, I didn't really know the answer.
Um, and there is some work that was [00:33:00] published last year, actually rather more than a year ago. Uh, which, um, is. It actually comes from, um, Montana state university and other institutions. And the interesting aspect of this is that answer several of the, of the questions in, uh, the, the parts of Richard's question, because.
Um, what this group found, uh, was massive black holes in 13 dwarf, galaxies, excuse me, sorry. Big apartment. Uh, they are now among the smallest galaxies known to host such massive black holes. So it's, um, uh, you know, this is a new insight. Into our understanding of dwarf galaxies, because I think the consensus was until relatively recently that a dwarf galaxy would not have a supermassive black hole at its center.
And so that's, you know, [00:34:00] you, you, when you look at pictures of dwarf galaxies, they're pretty, ragbag looking things, you know, that they're not terribly well formed. They often don't have Spire alarms, although some don't do the. The two Magellanic clouds, the Dolby to our own galaxy in particular, the large Magellanic cloud, which you and I see in our skies, you particularly because you live in a fairly dark region of the state where you can see the Milky way and the Magellanic clouds and the large Magellanic cloud just has stubs of spiral arms.
It's got a little bit of spiral structure and a kind of bar across the middle of joining them up. Well, that's a characteristic of a much larger galaxy, but it's only a dwarf and it's probably smaller than it started out as well because it's having it's certainly it's gas is being removed by the gravity of the Milky way.
Something called the Magellanic stream is streaming gas off to Magellanic clouds. You see it in radio radio telescopes. So this, uh, [00:35:00] result that came up last year is really interesting because it does highlight that these dwarf galaxies. Do have black holes at the center. And some of them are what we call intermediate mass black holes.
You know, the ones that seem to have gone walk about the way the, um, cell, the mass black holes, the supermassive black calls, these are intermediate. Um, so to come down to just a few of the results, uh, they spotted. 13 massive black holes in dwarf galaxies located within a billion light years of, of our own galaxy.
So they're relatively nearby, which they'd have to be because they're fainter than the giant galaxies that we normally are looking at. All of the 13 galaxies, uh, are only hundreds of the massive, our own Milky way, galaxy or smaller. So they're a hundred times smaller than the Milky way. [00:36:00] Right, but they've got massive, but they've got black holes there that makes them a more, the smallest galaxies known to host massive black holes.
Uh, and in fact, um, you know, this, this work was announced last year, that the beginning of 2020, the American astronomical society had a. They have an annual meeting every January, right? At the beginning of January, it was in Honolulu last year. Sadly, I couldn't make it mainly because it was in Farnell than Scandinavia watching their aura.
But nevermind. Anyway, that's where this result was published, but here's the crunch, Andrew and the black holes average about 400,000 times the mass of the sun. So that is right in the middle of the intermediate black hole range. It's a bit on the big side you're getting towards, you know, not far off a million there, but, um, it's.
Yeah, so there, there, there, there really are intermediate mass black holes, but there's [00:37:00] another, uh, punchline to this, which I think is quite extraordinary. Um, these black holes, uh, were actively. You know, eating material around them. Um, but in half of the galaxies, The black holes weren't at the middle. Uh, they were kind of wandering around the galaxy.
So that's rather unexpected. You would expect that the massive black coal or a supermassive black hole in the middle of a galaxy is going to be plunked right in the middle. Cause it's where, you know, the gravitational center of that object is, but in these dwarf galaxies, that's not the case. Um, and I suppose that suggests that, you know, they.
There may be dwarf galaxies might be easily disturbed by bigger galaxy. So their structure might've been kind of pulled out of, out of kilter. Um, yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, the there's a couple of quotes from, uh, from the authors [00:38:00] of this work. One is this work has taught us that we must broaden our searches for massive black holes in dwarf galaxies, but beyond their centers to get a more complete understanding of the population and learn what mechanisms helped form the first magnetic, sorry, massive black holes in the early universe.
And there is another quote. We hope that by studying them and their galaxies will give us insights into how similar black holes in the early universe formed and then grew through galactic mergers over billions of years producing the supermassive black holes. We see in larger galaxies today with masses of many millions or billions of times that of the sun.
Um, so that probably answers. To a certain degree. The question about what happens when dwarf galaxies merged the, the black holes would merge too very probably that's right. You know, um, they've, they've only found one black hole in each of these galaxies, if they'd found two, um, maybe [00:39:00] that would be some evidence for an incomplete merger if I could put it that way, because I think normally, uh, when galaxies merged the black holes merged too, um, there is, there is a.
There's one interesting aspect of this though, that we, there, there is still a school of thought. It's quite an old, uh, way of thinking and is not agreed upon by everybody, but the globular clusters in our own galaxy globular clusters are really dense star clusters, the two brightest and biggest during the Southern hemisphere.
Again, she's one of the reason for putting telescopes down here. Um, well, we can send Tori and 47 to Carney are the two biggest of these objects. Uh, you know, a galaxy and some astronomers think that what you're seeing in a globular cluster is the stripped down core of a dwarf galaxy. That's had all its outer stars pulled off by the gravitation of the Milky way, but the core of the galaxies is so gravitationally compact, that it resists the, what [00:40:00] we call the tidal effects of the Milky way.
And stays intact. And that actually makes a lot of sense, particularly because there have been one or two, um, What you might call, I suppose you still call them intermediate black hole, uh, candidates discovered in side globular clusters. We think there are some globular clusters that have black holes in them, which, you know, highlights the possibility that maybe these are the final remains of some galaxies that, uh, got too close to the Milky way.
So basically everything Rich's asked is possible. So it sounds great. It sounds like all the answers are yes. Including question two, which is what happens when two dwarf galaxies merged their black calls probably merged too. Okay. What about the quasar theory that he came up? So quasar has a slightly different category and kind of extinct now, um, because they're a product of the early universe where you had.
The supermassive black holes [00:41:00] within galaxies, really actively consuming the material around them. And they're so active that they're very powerful emitters of radio waves and visible light, in fact. Um, and so the, um, Uh, the, the cuase our regime has gone. Um, but maybe, I mean, scientists wonder if all galaxies go through a crazy phase early in their lives.
Yeah. That may not extend to dwarf galaxies because you need a pretty big supermassive black call to really kick off this process and get, uh, the kind of activity that you get with a quasar. Richard. So the answers to your questions are yes. Yes. Perhaps probably not. And maybe don't necessarily. No, not really, but thanks for your question, Richard and hope things are going well in sunny, Brisbane.
I'm actually going up to Queensland later this year. We've got to go to a wedding, so [00:42:00] hopefully all will be well come August. And I'll remember to take my, um, my. Uh, how you favor medication? Or last time we went up there for a wedding, we went in August and I thought that's only August. She'll be right still.
Yeah, not in Goldman's but got me good. Cause I was too far North. Yeah. Thanks again, Richard. Now let's move on to a question or two from Tom in Toronto, Canada. Hello, Fred and Andrew. I'm a subscriber and admirer of your podcasts since. About episode 70. Coincidentally, I have two questions for professor Watson.
It's I love this. Your Wikipedia page mentions a few musical compositions. You are a part of how does. Uh, the cosmos inspire your music. And does music inspire any thoughts or ideas you might have in your astronomical research? And, uh, then a really serious question. Could black holes be safely used in gravity assist greetings from snowy, Toronto.
Well, it was snowy [00:43:00] new South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania this week. So as we in the Northern Southern hemisphere has go through our seasonal changes. We're all sort of experiencing the same thing at the moment, but, um, yes. Uh, your music, Fred, he's interested in your music. Well, where to start, um, So I think it's fair to say Andrew.
I grew up in a musical family. Um, and my dad was, my dad was a swing, but he played in a swing band and indeed my brother still does. Uh, they were both drummers or they are, my brothers still is a drummer. Although I have to hold that against them. He doesn't, he gets all the job jokes. Yeah. Um, he, um, He doesn't get many gigs these days for obvious reasons.
Uh, but, um, so there was always music, but it wasn't just swinging music. I mean, this is back in the forties when I was a little one, um, classical music was there as well. And that's what really got me hooked. Uh, I like pop [00:44:00] music, but classical music has been something that has been a major part of my life.
Uh, well throughout my whole life. And to be honest, Andrew, um, um, I'm really glad about that because he often provide you with a, you know, a way of getting away from the, from the world. It's a really sort of solid thing to be able to listen to a piece of music that you know is going to be your happy place.
Um, whether it's Beethoven or Sibelius or Brahms or whoever is it's, uh, it's all great stuff. Um, so Steppenwolf. Steppenwolf. Yeah, I can do that as well. Um, you know, I, yeah, because, um, I've got fairly broad musical tastes and so that, you know, in the sixties, I was heavily into the Beatles and all that and the stones and all the, all the stuff that was going on then, but the other that's the other side of it.
So my classical music. Is not entirely confined to listening. And I'll explain that in a second, but mostly because I don't [00:45:00] play an orchestral instrument, for example. So I've never sat in an orchestra and played a violin or something. However, I did learn both piano and guitar and in the folk era, in the sixties and seventies, I did a lot, um, uh, played in folk clubs all over, uh, England and Scotland hung out with the likes of.
Gerry Rafferty and Billy Connolly and people like that who were up and coming musicians at the time. Uh, and, um, you know, I still play occasionally, but not in any sense the way I was meaning to, I thought I was going to become a professional musician and I'm quite glad I didn't because it wasn't.
Actually when I looked back on it, it wasn't all that good. Nevermind. The guy I played with was he's still a professional in Scotland, Kenny Brill. We were two halves of a band called the Brantford and these five ready-mix concrete company worked out anyway. You know, so, so I, the science comes into that because, um, for the last 50 years, I've written [00:46:00] daft science songs, which are performance signs in the poem and things of that sort.
Um, but the, the classical in some ways is more related to the astronomy because, um, I got very friendly with, because through his work, listening to his work on the radio with a, uh, an Australian composer by the name of Ross Edwards, Ross is one of Australia's foremost, classical music composers. He, he actually composed the piece that was played on the sales of the Sydney opera house on the 1st of January, 2000 with an audience of 2.5 billion people.
Um, it's called Dawn mantras. It's a beautiful piece of modern classical music. Well, not long after that, we hooked up the idea of making a musical journey through the night sky, um, which is his fourth symphony and it's a choral work. It has two choirs to sing it. Um, and, and I wrote the words, which are essentially the.
Constellations that we recognize and stars that we [00:47:00] recognize in the Western world, juxtaposed with the constellations that Aboriginal people recognize here in Australia. Now they vary from place to place. So I just started to take selections, but it actually won an award. Andrew, uh, the 2008. Uh, opera award for the best choral work of the year.
Cause it, it came out on a CD. So being the Australia performing rights association exactly. Right. The two things are very much intertwined in my brain. And really, I can't answer Tom's question because I don't know how is that these things inspire each other, but they definitely do. Um, I do, when I'm writing, I often like this kid's book.
Sounds daft to say it in a kid's book, but I'm often, um, subconsciously aware of the structure in a piece of music. Uh, you know, the, the, the exposition, the development, the recapitulation in a piece of, uh, what's, what's called Sonata form often goes into the way I write things. You set off with an [00:48:00] idea and you bundle it around a bit, and then you come out with the same idea, but in a different form at the end, um, Once again, I don't think that answers the question.
Let's get into the real question anyway. Fascinating though. Fascinating. Uh, yes. He says, uh, could black holes be safely used in gravity assist? I assume this is like space travel. Yeah. It's an interesting thought thought. And what little I know about the mechanisms of gravity assist, suggest that I don't think they could, um, because I'm too big.
It's more that they don't have that they don't have structure. So, um, Uh, look, I'm, I'm kind of guessing here. Um, just, you know, so this, these are ideas pulled out of the air, but gravity assist is weird, uh, because, uh, if you think about it, you know, what's happening is you're flying a spacecraft close to a planet is feeling that planet gravity, uh, to increase the speed of the spacecraft.
But when the spacecraft has gone [00:49:00] past its gravity is trying to slow it down. And I think if you had a single point. That would be what would happen? You wouldn't gain any momentum from the encounter, the speed you gained on the approach to the black hole swimming. You're going fast enough not to get sucked in, um, would, uh, would match the speed.
You'd lose on the way out. So the net effect will be zero because as I understand it, it's to do with the. Planet's rotation and the direction that you approach it in, in relation to its equator, that actually gives you the gravity assist. So it's to do with the structure of the planet itself, that you can make this momentum change to give momentum to the planet.
Sorry to take momentum. To the, from the planet to assist your spacecraft in its journey. So I think the answer is probably no. Um, uh, even, you know, I'm not sure anybody would want to fly a spacecraft close to a black hole anyway, in case I'm sure there are people who would want [00:50:00] to, whether or not you'd be capable of it and come back to tell the story.
That'd be, that'd be a different thing I imagine, but, okay. So probably not is the answer to that. Particular question. We'll try and follow it up though, because it's a really interesting question and it feeds into why gravity assist works at all. Hmm. Hmm. Fascinating. All right. Uh, thanks Tom. Thanks Richard.
For your questions. Um, we knocked over a couple of, uh, a couple of more of those text questions that have been racking up for the last, I don't know, 10 years. Uh, but, uh, we'll knock off some more, but if you do have a question for us, don't forget to visit our website and click on the AMA link. And you can send us a text question through the email interface, or you can use your recording device, uh, whether it's through a tablet or a smartphone or a computer.
And just tell us who you are, where you're from and ask you a question. Happy to run audio questions as well, which we've been doing a lot of. Lightly, but catching up on the text questions [00:51:00] too. Uh, and, um, that's pretty well it, and, uh, thank you again, Fred, as always. It's great to see you and happy trails and we'll catch you again next week.
Sounds great, Andrew. Same to you all the best speak soon. Professor Fred Watson astronomer large part of the team here on the space, nuts podcast, a loader who Hugh in the studio who works feverishly to put it all together. Yeah. And adds the nuts and bolts and finds the silly pictures that he puts on the, uh, on the graphics when we put them online.
And from me, Andrew Dunkley. Thanks again for joining us. We'll see you on the very next episode of the space and that's podcast. Bye-bye you'll be this to this space. Next podcast, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify. I have radio. Oh, your favorite podcast. You can also stream on demand at Guidestone.
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