AstroTalk Episode February 5, 2018

Van Allen 60 Year Anniversary, the Penguin and The Egg, Hubble and a Giant Spiral, and 3oo Million Billion Suns

4:03pm - 4:52pm

NASA is celebrating the 60 year anniversary of the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts with 3 satellites now in orbit, studying the belts. They are 2012 launch of the twin Van Allen Probes, and the subsequent launch of THEMIS, and Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, missions, to learn about the belts. It is vital to understand the radiation in the belts, because the radiation from them can affect spacecraft, satellites, and humans, in space. Hubble and the Spitzer Space Telescope are also revealing interesting things. A galaxy merger is being viewed in NGC 2336. One galaxy looks like a penguin, and the other like an egg, so the pair is being called, The Penguin and the Egg. The egg is distorting the other galaxy, making it resemble a penguin. The 2 galaxies are 23 million light-years away. The image of the 2 galaxies is a blend of a visible image from Hubble, and an infrared image from Spitzer. Hubble is also showing us another galaxy, NGC 7331, about 45 million LYs away. A supernova is prominent in the middle area of 7331. SN 2014C is surprising us, because within the last year, it went from a supernova that contained little hydrogen, to one that is now hydrogen-rich. NGC 7331 is similar to the Milky Way in all but one respect: it does not have a central bar, like the Milky Way does. Hubble is also viewing a cartwheel shaped galaxy, the Cartwheel Galaxy, which is 500 million LYs away, toward Pegasus. A smaller galaxy passed right through the Cartwheel, sending a blue colored shockwave out from the center of Cartwheel. Cartwheel is known as a ringed-type galaxy. Finally, Hubble is weighing in on 300 million billion suns. Hubble is viewing ACT-CLJ0102-4915, or EL Gordo, a group of galaxy clusters that weighs more than 300,000,000,000,000,000 suns. El Gordo is actually 2 galaxy clusters that are colliding and merging, at a speed of 1 million kilometers per hour. 2014 measurements show that gas and dust is being is being torn from El Gordo by dark matter. Scientists believe that visible matter and dark matter are colliding in the merger. The normal matter is slowing down, but the dark matter is not.