Astronomy, Science, Space, and Stuff.
Space Nuts Episode 272 with Professor Fred Watson & Andrew Dunkley
●How the Biblical story of Sodom may have been inspired by an astronomical catastrophe
●The giant red spot on Jupiter – is it speeding up?...
Astronomy, Science, Space, and Stuff.
Space Nuts Episode 272 with Professor Fred Watson & Andrew Dunkley
●How the Biblical story of Sodom may have been inspired by an astronomical catastrophe
●The giant red spot on Jupiter – is it speeding up?
●Listener questions…we revisit the possible (or not) heat death of the universe…does a neutron star have an event horizon and a couple of text questions from John Dunkley…any relation? Find out as Andrew tackles that one and Fred the rest.
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Space Nuts 272 AI Transcript
Hello, once again, and thank you for joining us on the Space Nuts podcast. I'm your host, Andrew Dunkley. And this is a show all about astronomy and space science, where we discuss things that are happening in the, uh, in the greater universal right here on earth or somewhere in between.
And today we're going to look back at one of the major biblical events, the destruction of a city in the middle east, the legend or Solomon Goodman. And now we think it might have been a twin Gusto like event that could have occurred. So we'll be looking into that also the giant red spot on Jupiter, the, um, uh, the storm that's been raging for hundreds of years, looks like it's speeding up, which makes me wonder if it blow itself out sooner or later, we'll like, we'll find out.
Uh, we will also be looking at some audience questions. We've got a query about something we talked about recently, the heat death of the universe. Someone's, uh, come up with a, uh, another element to that that they want to discuss. Uh, we also have a question about whether or not a neutron star has an event horizon and a text question from a fellow named John Dunkley.
Uh, his question is about the interstellar medium, but he also has a second question that we're going to run, uh, with as well, which I'll explain later in the program joining me as always my partner in crime. The great man himself, professor Fred Watson astronomer at large. Hello, Fred, Andrew. Wow. It's nice to be cool to grow up.
It's usually just an old man. I guess I've been known to do that too. Oh, well you old man. Ah, I'm well, and uh, I hope you are too doing fun things. I'm looking forward to getting out of lockdown a copy. It can't be too far away now, but over a week we're told it's the 11th of October. Fingers crossed. Yeah, actually my wife's been called back to work already.
Cause she's got to get the shop organized and, um, get all the stock on the floor and all that sorta stuff. So she's actually at work today. Uh, not seeing customers just. Yeah. Can you sing all the bells and whistles where they need to be pushed? Uh, so yes, it's, it's just about to come back and, uh, as, as we start to see things improve in new south Wales, so blown up in Victoria.
Great. Yeah. So this would be their third wave, I'd say, but, um, it's a very unbelievable call it the fifth. Yeah. Well you have to call them perhaps. I don't know. Maybe it's. Yeah. Okay, Fred let's, uh, let's get down to business and we're going to look at this, this, uh, incredible story about the, um, the middle Eastern city.
It's now called Towle El hamam, but about 3,600 years ago, it was, uh, pretty well wiped off the face of the earth. And of course the legend goes that it was the hand of God punishing humanity, but now, um, it's starting to look like it. Might've been. An astronomical event. Uh, indeed. That's right. So this is, um, it's an archeological site, excuse me, which, uh, is in the Jordan valley, um, Northeast of the dead sea, uh, in, I guess what we still call the holy land.
Um, it's, uh, Uh, a site that has been investigated for, I think more than 15 years, it's very well-established. Um, and it was, uh, Uh, about 3,600 years ago, that was at that time 10 times larger than Jerusalem. Wow. Five times larger than Jericho. So this was no mean place. It was a big city. Uh, and as you say, it's, uh, it's known as tall.
I'm not quite sure how to pronounce this, but tall L hamam is probably something like it. And I think you were probably nearer to it than me there, but nevermind. Um, but, uh, the, the investigations, uh, the archeology there have revealed, you know, the structure of the city, but, uh, what is really interesting is that there's this, this, uh, less.
Uh, in the, uh, in the archeological record. So, so you'd dig down, it's a bit like geology to the dig down and see what you find. And there's a one and a half meter, uh, layer of strata, I guess, that you'd call it, which is very unusual. Um, and it's actually something called the middle bronze age to struggle.
It doesn't mean much to me, not an archeologist, but, uh, it's a long time ago, uh, 3,600 years. And there's, there's daybreak in that lair, which is not just, um, the stuff that you get. If, if you'd had either an invasion or a huge earthquake or even a volcanic eruption, um, there is stuff like. Bits of pottery, uh, whose outer surfaces have been melted into glass?
Well, um, partially melted building material, all sorts of things. And one of the, um, one of the researchers, uh, who's been working on this project, James Kennedy, who's a to university of California, Santa Barbara. Um, he comments that we saw evidence for temperatures greater than 2000 degrees Celsius. Uh, and, um, those, uh, basically temperatures that you just don't get, uh, from either earthquakes or war or whatever, the only, the only thing you would get, something like that from would be a volcano or a, or a lava burst or a pyroclastic flow.
And I imagine that wouldn't have been any. That's right. Yes. But, uh, in fact, the temperatures that they've seen, you don't experience even in a cataclysm like that. Right. Um, these, uh, higher, even the volcanic, uh, uh, volcanic, um, you know, Uh, sorry, volcanic materials. Um, although yes, you do get, um, volcanic glass being formed by high temperatures.
Anyway, what they're saying is there's only one possible event that could have produced that, and that is an airburst, uh, from a, an incoming, probably small asteroid and their suggested. Something like the Tunguska event that you and I have spoken about many times before, which was in 1,908, uh, an airburst of, uh, the Eastern Siberian region, um, of Russia.
Uh, and that was. Sort of the calculations show that that was about 12 megatons, uh, in terms of its explosive power. And they're suggesting that this one was similar, but I think as well from reading between the lines, they're also suggesting that the airburst was lower down in the atmosphere. Uh, a matter of.
You know, a few kilometers rather than, uh, probably a bit more than that, that Tongass skirt exploded. You remember to Tongass get devastated, ah, thousands of square kilometers of forest it just later to match word. Yeah. That's right. So I think there was one fatality. Yeah, yeah, yeah. No. Yeah. Anyway, it's it's uh, it's uh, what is being calculated that, um, that airburst is, is actually the, uh, the only thing that kind of produced the, the phenomenon they've seen.
Um, one of the other things that, uh, Uh, professor Kennett said, uh, is I think one of the main discoveries is shocked courts. These are sand grains containing cracks. That form only under very high pressure. Um, we've we have shocked quartz from this lab and that means there were incredible pressures involved to shock the quartz crystals.
Quartz is one of the hardest minerals. It's very hard to shock. Um, and th there's also. Fascinating aspects to it. Um, they, they suggest that the explosion level, the city effectively, um, the palace was four stories high that was flattened, uh, uh, pretty well. Um, and that there's a comment that says. The, the distribution of bones indicated extreme disarticulation and skeletal fragmentation in nearby human.
So people were blown to pieces basically by what it is, whatever happened. So, so do you think it wiped out the entire population? Uh, yes. Um, that's pretty well, what they're saying in this research? Uh, what scarious is that? Um, A couple of things. We're curious, first of all, the place was remained on inhabited then for 600 years.
Um, and the suggestion is that the reason for that is that nothing. Would grow in the area because there was, there's an anomalously high amount of salt in the, in the day, Bri. Um, they find an anomalously high concentrations of salt, an average of 4% in the sediment at as high as 25% in some samples. And, uh, again, professor candidate says the salt was thrown up due to the high impact pressures.
And apparently, um, one of the comments while he says, and it may be that the impact partially hit the dead sea, which is rich in salt. Uh, the local shores of the dead sea are also salt Ridge. So it may well have been that this, uh, you know, this explosion spread salt all over the, the, the countryside, um, and the nearby city.
Has been, uh, proposed to be the biblical Jericho. Remember that places like Sodom and Gomorrah and Jericho, we don't know where they were these days. We don't even know whether they actually existed historically, but, um, there is one city tell as sort of time pro proposed as the biblical Jericho, uh, which, uh, they're suggesting underwent violent destruction at the same time.
Uh, so credible to contemplate it. It's just that that's right. And so it's only 600 years after that devastation that you start to see resettlement in this area. And so, um, well, the, the debate, um, Uh, I'll just read. This is from, uh, um, the, uh, actually it's nice physics, physics world of physics.org that this comes from, but there is a concept of conversation article as well.
It's got a lot, a lot of detail in it. Um, tell, uh, Atal Al hamam has been the focus of an ongoing debate as to whether it could be the biblical city of Sodom. One of the two cities in the old Testament book of Genesis that were destroyed by godfather wicked, they and their inhabitants had become. One Dennis in the lot is saved by two angels who instructed not to look behind as they flee lot's wife, however, lingers, and is turned into a pillar of salt.
Meanwhile, fire and brimstone fell from the sky. Multiple cities were destroyed. Thick smoke arose from the fires. City. Inhabitants were killed in area crops were destroyed. In what sounds like an eye witness account of a cosmic impact event. It's a satisfying connection to make. So there's no guarantee there's no scientific proof.
Uh, you know, um, what professor candidate says is all the observations stated in Genesis are consistent with a cosmic airborne burst, but there's no scientific proof that the, this destroyed city is indeed the Sodom of the old Testament, but it might see evidence does suggest whatever city. Probably was devastated by an air burst from an, at a small asteroid.
Exactly. And it's, they're saying, you know, perhaps that generated an oral tradition and it will be a long lasting one. If it, if there was nobody there for 600 years, but you can imagine that in the area that will be known by all the local people that this city had been wiped out. Um, uh, you know, even 600 years after the.
Um, that's a long time, but, um, we remember things that happened in the middle ages, mostly because they were written down, you know, uh, but, but it may account, it may that they're suggesting it may be the inspiration for what is in the book of Genesis. Yes, quite incredible. And the, the other, uh, information that's sort of come to light is that you would talk about the evidence of the temperatures on this, on this city and the, and the glassing or the glass that's been created.
They also have found microscopic diamonds that were created by the heat, which is just amazing. And the only other places where they've found evidence of such temperatures is two. And Chick-fil-A, which is where the dinosaur asteroid hit earth. And, uh, was the beginning of the end of the dinosaurs or the end of the end of the dinosaurs, whichever way you want to look at it.
So, um, yes. Uh, and we've in recent times witnessed something similar, although not as devastating, but, uh, that was, um, in Russia with that, um, uh, explosion, chili blend scare. Uh, so, uh, yeah, that sort of exploded lower down. It could have been much, much worse, much less, uh, quite an extraordinary, uh, situation and one that's worth looking into further.
Um, and who knows where the evidence will will lead. This is, um, this is quite an amazing revelation. I know they've been talking about it on our podcast. Facebook page, uh, because, um, that the story was, was published there. Um, recently and people were wondering, oh, is this real? What, where's the evidence? Uh, but if, you know, if it is real, if it is.
The city of legend from the Bible. Um, yeah. Wow. Um, I don't know how we prove it, I suppose, is the most difficult part of it all, but even, so it does sound like this was an astronomical event of some significance and, and devastated. Um, a lot of people, I also read that, uh, they would have seen the flash.
Before the actual, um, devastation took place and they looked up and were blinded. So, um, that probably probably brand as well. It would be look, it would have been horrible. And then, you know, the shock wave takes a little while to come down through the atmosphere and basically devastates the interland skin.
Yeah. Yeah. Just horrible stuff. Yeah. Unbelievable. So there it is the legend of Sodom and Gomorrah may. The pain may well have been an astronomical event. If it wasn't that city, it was some other city that certainly suffered that, uh, that terrible fate. This is spaced nuts with Andrew Dunkley and professor Fred Watson.
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Now back to the show space now. And actually that little link, uh, reminds me of, um, the recent mission with, uh, all the civilians doing their launch into, into space. And, uh, yeah, they, um, they would have felt fine, uh, experiencing zero J I, I imagined. Sorry, go ahead. No, I was just going to say, this
[00:18:19] Andrew: spacing out and Fred Watson, Fred, what are we going to say?
I was just going to mention that, um, I read this morning that there's a rumor that William Shatner might be the net. One of the next passengers on the blue origin. Uh, uh, you know, the blue origin suborbital flights. Jeff Bezos is a system. So captain Kirk going up there in zero G, that would be. I also hear he's just released his new album.
So, uh, he's still going strong in, in his nineties. He's even older than me. Is he? Okay. I had to do it now. Our next story is focused on Jupiter and it's focused on a focal point of Jupiter. And that is the great red spot, which is a storm, a pretty. Don big storm. That's been sort of, um, rotating for centuries and there's one of the, uh, uh, most spectacular things you can see astronomically, uh, within our solar system.
Uh, we know. A little bit about this particular storm. And we've just been told through analysis of Hubble images that it looks like it's speeding up. Now, this is a storm you wouldn't want sort of descending upon the greater parts of earth. Um, it would probably have the same effect as the asteroid that might've destroyed that biblical city I reckon.
And how many firsts can you fit inside the. Well, it, it, yeah, it's, it's down to about one now, uh, because the spot shrinking. Yeah. But it's still bigger than the planet, uh, bigger than our planet. Uh, yeah, this phenomenon that has been observed, um, I should check when it was actually first observed, but it's a couple of hundred years, maybe even longer that, um, the great red spot has been observed on Jupiter.
Um, In fact it will be longer because 200 years ago they had pretty decent telescopes. So, uh, it's a long lasting storm. Um, it's basically a cyclonic region and, uh, in, in one of the cloud belts of Jupiter Jupiter's atmosphere and between 1878, they first. Well, actually, no, it was first discovered in 1665.
That sounds more like it by GN Cassini, the good old Cassini. So he also of course discovered the, uh, discovered Titan actually. Uh, is that right? No, that was Huygens discovered Titan anyway. Okay. My history mixed up, but it was a good land. Was Cassini, um, uh, Italian, but worked at the Paris observatory. Uh, so, um, using telescopes made by the great company who was one of the great lens makers of the time.
That's um, doesn't surprise me at all that he discovered it in 1660. What was it? 66. Did he say? I think so that sounds about right. Um, so it's, it's, it's been going for at least, uh, you know, getting 'em for 400 years, 350 years or something like that. Very, very long lived feature. Anyway, the point is that, uh, unlike Cassini, uh, we now have something called the Hubble space telescope, uh, which has been observing Jupiter.
Pretty well since 1990, when it was, when it was first put into Orbitz. Uh, and, um, so we've got these, this long record of, uh, the way the great red spot behave. And this is where this, these results come from that, um, the analysis of those records show that the wind speed, um, near the outer edge of the, of the cycle of the storm, uh, in a region, which is known as the high-speed ring, um, it's getting higher, uh, Between 2009 in 2020, it speed increased by up to 8%.
Whereas actually, when you look near the center of the red spot, the winds are moving more slowly. Uh, so they've slowed down. So there's this interesting, you know, imbalance or perhaps it's a balance between the, the, uh, the, the, the slow speeds near the center of the spot. Rapid speeds near the outside. Uh, and those, those, uh, speeds near the outside is that they're more than 600 kilometers per hour.
So this is, you know, these are, they're not the highest speeds in the solar system. I think there are about 700 kilometers per hour, uh, which I think are on Neptune, but. Done fast. And, uh, it's the fact that it's speeding up is what's really puzzling researchers. Um, one of them might have one of the university of California in Berkeley, uh, says when I initially saw the results I asked, does this make sense?
But this is something only Hubble can do. Hubble has longevity and ongoing observations make this revelation possible. Uh, it goes on to say, Since we don't have a storm chaser plane at Jupiter, we can continuously measure the winds on site, or we can't continue continuously measure the winds on site I'll show shim misquoting there that's not from Michael one.
This is Amy Simon of NASA Goddard space flight center. Who goes on to say Hubble is the only telescope that has the kind of temporal coverage and spatial resolution that can capture Jupiter's wins in this. Um, what about James Webb when it's finally launched and yeah, yeah, no. In, in might be able to dig even deeper.
That's right. Um, um, the, the agenda, well, certainly the, you know, the, um, the, the red spot as one of its targets, remember the James Webb actually looks in them for a red Jupiter is significantly different in appearance, in the infrared, from what it is in the visible spectrum. Um, and that's because you're seeing down below the cloud.
Uh, at, uh, the, the warmer region, uh, uh, underneath the surface layers of cloud, uh, nevertheless we'll still learn something from it and, and it may be quite important because one of the, uh, one of the issues, uh, with the great red spot is we know that it's highly three-dimensional. Uh, Juno has demonstrated that the Juno spacecraft, which is currently in orbit around Jupiter.
So yeah. Uh, you know, it it's, um, it's not just a blob on the surface. It's like a vortex, uh, which you're looking down into and the. The problem is that you can't actually see where the bottom is. Um, and one of the, you know, one of the, again, one of the comments from, uh, Michael Wong is, uh, it's hard to diagnose what the increase in speed actually means since Hubble can't see the bottom of the storm very well.
Anything below the cloud tops is invisible in the data, but it's an interesting piece of that. That can help us to understand what's fueling the great red spot and how it's maintaining energy. Yeah. We don't even know that Dewey, but it is on dissipating. Is it not yet? Well, it would have to be that's right, but there must be some, you know, some heat source underneath it or something of that sort it's, it's still not well understood at all.
Uh, as to, um, uh, What, what is actually going on there? Could it be a tornado? Um, a big one. Yeah, but I mean, in many ways that's probably what it is. It's probably a, certainly got vortex structure, uh, which tornado does. Um, but it is one, you know, mammoth tornado. When you think about it, uh, 16,000 kilometers across.
Yeah. It's stunning. Does, um, Neptune have something similar? It's got a blue spot, hasn't it? Uh, yeah, there's this that's right. Um, Uranus is, is pretty, it's got a brown spot devoid of, I'm not gonna touch that. It's difficult to find. Devoid of features where as, um, Neptune does have features and there are spots and I think, yes, you're right.
There's a white spot. I think there were white spots on Saturday, but Saturday is pretty well observed from the point of view of storms in its atmosphere. Not least by, uh, our good friend in, in broken hill, uh, whose name always eludes me with. Trevor Trevor anyways, Trevor, uh, out in broken hill who, uh, is an amateur astronomer of great repute, uh, and, uh, just has worked with, worked with the Cassini mission on storms on Saturn.
It's fascinating. It is really fascinating. I mean, to think that something so powerful and so large exists, just, you know, that you could drop earth into it. Yeah. And yeah, we'd be pretty messed up. It'd be twin Glusker like a million times. Uh, but it it's. And yet we, we just don't and we know it's there. We can see it.
We we've sent, you know, the time-lapse footage of it shows how violent it is, but we just don't know anything else. It's quite extreme. Uh, it's modeled, you know, the, the theoreticians who model the atmosphere of Jupiter. And I'm sure they can allow for things like the great red spot, but we don't really know what triggered it.
Maybe one day we'll find out, but then it might disappear before we can gather all of the information. Uh, but it would probably be something in the history of Jupiter. It's probably come and go. Many times I would imagine. Would you think, so it may have done yes. In the, in the F in the four point, um, the 4.57 billion year history of the solar system.
Um, it's tranquil buried by the. There you go. I always think Trevor Burley, but it's nice travel, Barry. Thank you, Trevor. For all your work is great guy. Okay. Uh, well, um, watch this spot, uh, for a slot it's there, we may find out more and hopefully the James Webb telescope will answer some of those questions.
Uh, I think they're talking emission launched the end of the. Yeah. When was it? December. December? Yeah. For December fingers crossed not far away. That's right. Yep. So people are getting okay. Uh, you're listening to space nuts with Andrew Dunkley and Fred Watson. Space nuts. Now we come to that time in the program where we, uh, handed over to the audience and they ask all manner of questions, some strange, some deeply intellectual, some random that's a good word for it.
Um, and our first question this week, Fred comes from, uh, Rob he's up in Queens. Professor Fred and Andrew. This is Dr. Rob Scott on the sunshine coast. I have a question regarding the big bang eventual heat death of the universe. So if it's not heat, death and professor Penrose's right. And we have a big crunch or, um, Can I give, do you guys think that the laws of physics would persist beyond the next big bang or are they determined by the, uh, perhaps the, uh, environment in which the big bang first occurs and at the end of one, Universe and the start of another.
So yes, big questions, uh, expect you to get through it and at least half a podcast. Thanks.
It might take that long. Yeah. Thanks, Rob. Nice to hear from you. Hope all is well in sunny Queensland. Uh, yeah, we, we talked about the heat death of the universe recently and that's probably what spawn Rob's, um, inquiry. Um, I think we pretty well wrote off the possibility possibility of the universe collapsing in, on itself based on current evidence.
Did we not? We did, um, You know, who knows what might happen in the future. If, um, if dark energy suddenly switched off for whatever reason, um, then we might get a collapsed leading to a big crunch as it used to be called. Or of course, as Brian Schmidt calls it the can up Gib, uh, the wrong way around. Um, so that's not really seen as a likely scenario.
End of the universe, which is why we talked about the heat death, but, but, uh, Rob raises a really interesting question there, you know, if there was such a thing, would the laws of physics survive it and would they come out differently in the next, if it was a big bounce say, so you get a collapse and then it bounces back again.
You got another big bang. Would the laws of physics be the same and it raises. This whole question, uh, of where the laws of physics came from. Um, because. That is one that really, we, we don't have an answer to, um, we, we use the laws of physics to, to probe right back to within the first tiny fraction of a second after the big bang event.
But. What, what made that framework? What made the laws of physics is something that, uh, you know, you might even ask it, the question, is that beyond the realm of science to find out? Well, I wouldn't, I would think it's not beyond the realm of science. I think if you've got laws like that, you want to know where they come from, but I don't think anybody does.
So whether they would change after a, to have Gib, uh, is. Uh, good question. Maybe Brian Schmidt, I should ask. Yeah, I could. I mean, it would, it would mean something would have to change as a consequence of the collapse and the rebound effect. Wouldn't it. And that would, that would almost have to be chemical.
Well . Yeah, well, it's more, it's kind of more likely to be physical. It may even be that, you know, the clocks all get reset and suddenly you're back to time. Zero again. Yeah. Uh, time itself might travel up in, in a KIPP, um, and be recreated it if it does turn into a big bounce philosophical questions almost, and ones that really worth pursuing.
I think the question's a good one. Yeah. All right. Check it out. Did we actually add. No, no, we never asked the questions, Andrew, that would go beyond adequate.
I'm not even sure we've reached out. He quit. Alright. Um, thanks for your thought provoking question, Rob. Uh, let's now go to the UK and hear from Clive and see what he wants. Now. You guys, this is a cry. I wish to share England. Sorry. I love your show and I love your banter together. You two are great. Um, I like the intro, the thing about mountains on neutron stars and it struck me interesting question.
Does a neutron star have a radius? Uh, like, um, an event horizon beyond which the matter wouldn't be crushed to neutrons. Uh, and if so, what sort of size is. Would it be possible with a huge enough star to have a core of neutron star material and an outer crust of something less crushed and be very interested to hear what you say.
Thank you very much for your show. It's absolutely brilliant. Great. Thank you. Bye. Thanks cloth. And thanks for the, uh, the good wishes. Appreciate it. Glad you enjoy it. Uh, what did he want to know? Well, let me, let me begin by. Tell me clouds that my dad used to living was to share. He lived, he lived for awhile in the village of Kempsey.
And then, uh, towards the end of his life, moved to Carswell green, both of which are not too far from Worcester. So I've probably knows those. He was a source of black too. Wasn't he?
You're not that far from the truth. There are hundreds without revealing any secret family history. Yeah. Anyway, that's. Uh, so the story we might do a whole podcast on. Uh, so, um, I forgot what they're going to happen. There's a neutron star having events, horizon, and the answer to that is no, um, because it is not sufficiently gravitationally collapsed.
It's got, you know, a neutron star. Has a diameter that's comparable with a city tidbit, typically 10 to 20 kilometers across. Um, but a black hole has a diameter of zero and it's that, that actually causes the intense gravitational distortion of space-time that gives rise to the event horizon. So a neutron star is just.
Collapsed enough. Uh, not quite, even though it's the last stop on the way to a black hole, um, you know, uh, a star that's not quite massive enough to collapse to a black hole will, will be become a neutron star. Um, but, uh, no event horizon, although, um, what you can do is calculate what the event horizon diameter would be.
If the neutron star was actually all this mass was concentrated in a single point. I'm not sure what the answer to that is. I should have looked it up. Uh, but I do have in my head that if you collapsed all the massive, the sun to a single point, and in fact, yeah, that's probably about the same because the sun is comparable in mass where the neutron cell, they usually a bit more than the cell.
I saw alumnus, but they're in the same region. So the suns event horizon, if it was, if its whole mass was in a single point, would be about. Kilometers in diameter. So very small. Um, that's kind of smaller actually than a neutron star is physically, but the bottom line is that it doesn't collapse. It doesn't form an event horizon.
However, the other bit of client's question is. Uh, relevant too though, because we do think, and the people who build models of what neutron stars look like inside, do believe that they're structured in a way similar to what life has mentioned, that you've got a different kind of structure near the center.
And I think on the outside you've got, uh, something that's actually more. Uh, populated by protons the neutrons, which is why they can have a magnetic fields neutrons and not electrically conducting. So, um, so you've got to have some sort of a proton net type mechanism to have the magnetic fields. So there is, there is a structure perhaps where the skin of different material on the outside and the mountains, um, check them out or Wikipedia.
There's a lot of information there about the, what we think the structure of a neutron star. Yeah, they they're strange things. Aren't they very strange. Yeah. What were the height of the mountains? A third of a millimeter or something like that? Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah. Yeah, admin Hillary would be very disappointed.
All right. Um, thank you, Clive. Lovely to hear from you. Uh, one final question this week, a text question comes from, um, John in Western Australia. We'll get to his, um, second question at the end of this, but he says, hello, professor Fred and Andrew. Thank you for your fantastic show. Got a couple of questions relating to a few points that have been discussed.
In recent episodes. The first question is, can you explain what we have learned about the interstellar medium from the voyage emissions and what the implications are for various concepts for interstellar propulsion, such as a buzzard Ram jets, light sales, magnetic sales, et cetera. So let's tackle that one for.
Yeah. So, um, the, the, the interstellar medium. So that's the region beyond the, uh, the influence of the sun. The magnetic influence of the sun, um, is, uh, is, is not much different. What's inside the solar system. It just that, that like the tic fields are different strengths of the field lines go a different way.
Cause you're, you're sampling the magnetic field of the galaxy rather than the magnetic field of the, of the Psalm itself. So, um, in terms of, uh, you know, any effects they might have on magnetic propulsion systems is the same as it is inside the solar system. Um, I think. That kind of idea of using magnetism to drive spacecraft along is a non-starter there's not enough oomph behind it.
However, like sales are a different, a different matter and they're they re yes, they're electromagnetic because photons are particles of electromagnetism. But what you're doing is you're providing an artificial. Source of photons by blasting the, this thing sail with a high energy photons from a laser, which might be an orbit around the earth or something like that.
And gradually accelerating the spacecraft up to, uh, up to speeds, comparable with the speed of light. So, you know, 10, 20, 30% of the speed of light, which is very significant indeed. And that might take us to proxy for centaury in a short time. By short, I mean, 20 years, uh, the, uh, uh, uh, so, so the interstellar medium itself would, would not behave significantly differently from the medium, the interplanetary medium.
If I put it that way, uh, there will be differences, but it, it wouldn't be a showstopper for example. Okay. Uh, now, um, John also asked about, uh, the sun's binary. We were not going to really. Uh, dwell on that. Cause we did talk about that recently. He did ask if Proximus and Tori could be a candidate, uh, and the answer is.
Probably not, no, it's more likely it would be a star, um, of the same category as the son having been born in the same cloud of gas. So yes, this the son's sibling. It probably had one, 4.5, 7 billion years ago. Uh, it's a long lost relative. And for, yeah, we don't know where they are now. Speaking of relatives.
Um, good segue, John. John had one more question. Uh, if you would allow, he said a non-space question. Uh, Andrew, are we related? So John's name is John Dunn. And I've done some research, John and what I've been doing, my family tree through, um, ancestry.com. And I have got back to the 14 hundreds. I found two nights.
Wow. Andrew doubtful, very doubtful in fact. Um, but, uh, I, um, have one of the, th the process is so. Convoluted and so complex, you start finding that you're adding cousins and brothers and sisters or cousins and brothers and sisters, and you get this massive conglomeration of names. So to make my life easier, I stuck with direct bloodlines.
So the answer John is, could be probably. Dunno, uh, because I, I've not kept all the names that sort of break away from the main stream in my family tree. I do know that, uh, we came to Australia three generations ago and, uh, my family arrived in Sydney and spread out over new south Wales. Some went down south, uh, into Victoria and Tasmania.
And most stayed in new south Wales. And in fact, one branch of the family ended up where I am now and they were, they were different branch through, uh, through a brother of my great-grandfather that ended up here. So that's why I found a lot of Dunkley's. In this part of new south Wales and wondered why as it's actually yeah, there's direct connection.
Going back through generations. Uh, I also know of an Andrew Dunkley who fought in world war one. His name is on the west Australian war Memorial in Perth. He was killed in first war in the first world war. He may be one of your relatives and he may be connected to us somewhere along the. So, um, and another, uh, so yeah, I think it's possible, John, but I'd have to go back and add some names to various branches until I found you, which, or found your branch of the family.
So let's just say it's very, very possible. It's not a common name, so it is likely that we are connected somewhere along the line. Um, so yeah, I'd be interested to find out and thanks for your questions on lovely to hear from you. It must be a good bloke being a Dunkley. You remember, it's probably it's years ago, I sent you this, but I came across, um, the Dunkley motorized pram, which is something that's pretty used in about 1900.
And this is something that you pushed your baby along, but it. Yeah. So that sounds like a Dunkley invention. Well, I'll tell you another weird coincidence involving the Dunkley's. I once interviewed an Andrew Dunkley who played fullback for the Sydney swans AFL team. Oh really? When he retired. And so Andrew Dunkley interviewed Andrew Dunkley he's since had a child named Kyle who now plays AFL.
And my eldest son is named. And does he play AFL? He does not. He plays video games often. Yeah. So Andrew Dunkley, the Swan, Andrew Dunkley, the broadcaster, both had sons name, Kyle, just wheat. Yeah. All right. That brings us to the end of another show. Thanks to everybody. Thanks for your questions. Thanks for listening.
We really appreciate it. Uh, it is always lovely to hear from you. So don't forget to visit our website space notes, podcast.com. And while you're there, you can, uh, click on the various links up the top that will indicate, uh, you know, that you can catch up with the astronomical news or you can, uh, uh, ask questions of us now on the AMA tab, you can either say.
The text questions or audio questions, but on the right-hand side of the page, on its side, kind of like, um, uh, Uranus which I'll pronounce the right way. Uh, send us your voice messages so you can do it that way. Uh, there's all sorts of ways of getting messages and questions to us. So we'd love, we'd love to hear from you as always.
And, uh, you know, the best of the best we'll get on, on the. Um, and sometimes not even that, um, as John now demonstrates, uh, but anyway, um, no offense, John, but you're a dunker. You can take it. You're tough. Um, but that's, uh, yeah, that's the place to go. And of course, if you are into social media, don't forget the visit, the space NATS podcast, Facebook page.
This is where people who love astronomy and have all, um, Come together as a consequence or as a result of the space and that's podcast can talk to each other about various things that are happening, astronomical, uh, share each other's astronomical photos. I know a lot of people do that with their astrophotography, uh, or just debate issues.
It's, uh, it's all there and, uh, available on the space and that's podcast group on Facebook. Cool. That's a mouthful. Um, and that brings us to the end of this, uh, latest episode. Thank you so much, Fred. Always good to catch up. It's great to catch up with you. It's an honor to be in the presence of a Dunkley.
I wish my wife thought the same thing. Catch you later. See you soon. Bye bye. Fred Watson astronomer at large. He'll be back next week. I will be too. And thanks to Huw in the studio for keeping it all running smoothly. And until next time. Bye-bye