Deep in the mountains of West Virginia, the Green Bank Observatory has been receiving a mysterious signal from deep space. Could this be a message from an advanced civilization, or is it a much stranger and violent occurrence? Visit the largest steerable radio telescope on the planet for answers.
Today Phil’s explaining the stars and how they can be categorized using their spectra. Together with their distance, this provides a wealth of information about them including their luminosity, size, and temperature. The HR diagram plots stars’ luminosity versus temperature, and most stars fall along the main sequence, where they live most of their lives.
How do astronomers make sense out of the vastness of space? How do they study things so far away? Today Phil talks about distances, going back to early astronomy. Ancient Greeks were able to find the size of the Earth, and from that the distance to and the sizes of the Moon and Sun. Once the Earth/Sun distance was found, parallax was used to find the distance to nearby stars, and that was bootstrapped using brightness to determine the distances to much farther stars.
Science may soon make the dream of traveling to Mars a reality, but how will we live once we get there? How will we manage our basic human needs of food, water, and shelter on a planet known for its barren surface conditions, high radiation levels, and toxic dirt?