Deep Astronomy

  • May 20, 2013

    Episode 3: The Hypernova of VY Canis Majoris

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    Stars come in a wide variety of sizes and temperatures. Among the largest class of stars, known as hypergiants, is the star VY Canis Majoris.

    This star, located in our Milky Way galaxy, is 3,600 times the diameter of the Sun. When it dies, the resulting explosion will release more energy than 100 supernovae and emit enormous quantities of gamma rays.

    These gamma rays can actually pose a threat to nearby stars and planets. They are strong enough to destroy any life that may reside there if the planets are unfortunate enough to be in range.  Fortunately for us, if this is in fact VY Canis Majoris' fate, it is so far away that Earth will not be affected.

  • May 9, 2013

    Episode 2: IC 1101: The Largest Galaxy in the Universe

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    Of all the galaxies in the universe, which one is the largest?  It's a natural question to ask, and in this video, we explore the answer.  Of all galaxy types that exist in the universe, ellipticals are the largest. This one in particular, known only as IC 1101, is the king of them all.

  • April 19, 2013

    Kepler 62 Discovery Hangout with Sara Seager

    by Carol Christian

    The exciting discovery from the Kepler science team yesterday of a system of planets around the smallish star Kepler 62 had the internet buzzing late in the day.

    Most of the excitement stemmed from the fact that TWO of the five planets in the system lie within the star's habitable zone and are roughly the size and mass of Earth.  The two planets are Kepler 62 e and f and are closer to each other than Earth is to Mars!

    It isn't known if the planets have atmospheres, but there are some really interesting things in this system.

    I spoke with Dr. Sara Seager, an astronomer and planetary scientist from MIT, about the discovery. We talked about not just the Kepler 62 system, but the broader concept of habitablity as well.

    Enjoy and please let us know what you think!