From wonder to shock: The unexpected twist in the discovery of life on Enceladus leaves us questioning everything. What secrets still remain hidden in the vast expanse of our universe?
In this episode, you will be able to:
- Journey through space and time, exploring the fascinating Enceladus Ice Plumes as unveiled by the James Webb Telescope's latest findings.
- Examine the perplexing connection between a Sunlike Star and a Dark Object, with explanations suggesting the existence of a Boson Star.
- Conquer the complexities of White Dwarfs, delving into recent discoveries and the mystifying process of their formation.
- Navigate the dynamic world of Astronomy The
'The James Webb Telescope is a tool for science that is par excellence'. - Andrew Dunkley
The resources mentioned in this episode are:
- Check for updates on the Enceladus Orbilander mission proposal for further exploration of Saturn's moon Enceladus.
- Keep an eye out for future data releases on the geysers of Enceladus observed by the James Webb Space Telescope.
- Learn more about Gaia, the astrometric spacecraft that measures the positions and motions of stars.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Hello again. Thanks for joining us. This is Space Nuts. I'm your host, Andrew Dunley. It's always good to have your company and I hope you're well, coming up on today's program, we'll be looking at Geysers on Enceladus.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: The James Webb Space Telescope has had another look at them after they've been previously seen elsewhere and they've found out a bit more about them and it's pretty amazing also a star that may not be a normal star. This one could be a dark matter star as a matter of fact, we'll get stuck into that.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: We'll follow up a couple of things that came up in the last program. Just some questions that needed to be investigated further and we will be looking at a white dwarf age issue according to Rusty. We talked recently about Saturn's Ring Reign.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: David wants to bring that one up again as well as his lunch. And Jeff is asking about what the view would be like from a black hole. If we could possibly get inside, one would be tunnel vision. At the very least. I imagine that's all coming up on this edition of Space Nuts 432345.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: And joining me once again is his good self. Professor Fred Watson astronomer at large. Hello, Fred.
FRED WATSON: Hello, Andrew. How are you?
ANDREW DUNKLEY: I am quite well back to, back to work this week. Back to normal, back to business, back to everything that I had forgotten how to do, after a month off.
FRED WATSON: Yeah, that's what happens, isn't it?
FRED WATSON: And it's all still there. Yeah. Yeah. Well, maybe that's better than it all not being there at all.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Indeed. Yes. It's good to have good people that can back us up. That, that always makes a big difference. So you come back and you go, well, that's a relief. Nothing's broken, nothing's missing, nothing's wrong. So, it's always nice when you can rely on people and that's what we've got good to hear and, yeah, plenty of things to talk about.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: So let's get stuck into it straight away. And this first story I find really exciting because there's a lot of attention being paid to Enceladus for all sorts of reasons, notwithstanding the potential for life. But these incredible guises that have been recorded previously have been seen again this time by the James Webb Space Telescope.
FRED WATSON: Yeah. So this is really quite exciting news and it, highlights once again the, the capabilities of the James Webb telescope as a, as a tool for science that's sort of excellence.
FRED WATSON: It's the observations have been made of Saturn's Moon Enceladus. Now, we haven't yet seen those observations. So I haven't seen any images and that's probably partly because the research paper that's describing this work is still pending. So it hasn't yet appeared in the scientific press.
FRED WATSON: And I guess the people who are responsible for it are essentially you know, keeping their powder dry to to, to, to basically stop, you know, stop the the, the, the, the media getting hold of it before they've actually published it. That happens which, which does happen. And you know, that is a media person.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: I've never done it myself. Gosh, never, I'll never break an embargo, break an embargo.
FRED WATSON: No. And I, I have to say I have neither because I get all these things that are embargoed and I too don't break them just because it's the wrong thing to do. So. Yes, I think that's what's happening there, but this is scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center who have presented these results actually at a conference in the space telescope Science Institute, which is in Baltimore Place.
FRED WATSON: I visited a long time ago. So going back to the matter in hand, Saturn's Moon Enceladus, we've known since the flybys of the Cassini spacecraft in the early two thousands. Yeah, I think it was as early as 2005 that the the, the, the ice plumes being emitted from Led South Pole have been were discovered then in, in fact, what first hit the headlines?
FRED WATSON: I don't know if you remember this because I'm sure you, you and I talked about it, but there were these things near the South Pole of Enceladus which were markings that were described as tiger stripes because they, they do, they do look a bit like tiger stripes. And then it was discovered that, that they were actually cracks through which what probably started off as water.
FRED WATSON: But as soon as it hit, the vacuum of space became ice crystals. And that's what were being observed by the Cassini spacecraft. And in fact, Cassini made several passes through those ice crystals. So that using the equipment that it had on board, it could detect some of the chemicals that were, were in them principally H2O so water up there, but also molecular hydrogen.
FRED WATSON: And I think some silicates as well were detected, which tended to give you the insight that the water that was underneath the ice had been in contact with rock before it was spat out to, to form the ice crystals. And the molecular hydrogen was interpreted as being possibly symptomatic of the fact that there were these deep well, it'll come to me in a minute.
FRED WATSON: The, the, the, the black smokers that's the expression I was looking for down on the floor of Enceladus Ocean, the sub ice ocean that there were basically hydrothermal vents in the ocean floor. So that was all very exciting. But of course, with Cassini's mission coming, coming to an end in 2017, all that stopped.
FRED WATSON: And so further research was not possible until now when the James Webb telescope has been directed at Enceladus and, and they've kind of hit paid because they've discovered a, an ice plume that is far bigger than any of the ones that were observed by Enceladus. And that, so that makes you wonder why that might be.
FRED WATSON: Is there a, you know, one of the cracks, one of the tiger stripes has opened up a bit to allow more water through or is it something to do with the gravitational pull of Saturn, what's happening here? And so that's one of the things that is being studied at the moment. Apparently, this ice plume extended quite a lot further than the diameter of Enceladus itself, which is 500 kilometers.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Yeah, that's one, that's one of the things they've discovered as a consequence of this observation is how big these Geysers are.
FRED WATSON: Yeah. And this, I I remember from the that time an image of Enceladus which was taken when Enceladus was back, it so the sun was behind Enceladus. But you could see that there, the plumes of stuff that were coming off. Enceladus were actually feeding into Saturn's earring.
FRED WATSON: The earring is one of the diffuse rings outside the, you know, the, the main ring system. And that was great because that answered the puzzle of where the E ring came from. It actually comes from ice crystals that yeah, that, that generated by Enceladus.
FRED WATSON: So all that's sort of back story. But we now we have these new observations and in principle, we've got a new way of, of you know, investigating these things because the James Webb is equipped with very sensitive infrared detectors, spectrometers and things of that sort.
FRED WATSON: It's possible that we might get some new insights into what chemical elements and perhaps even molecules are contained within those ice plumes. Although I think the the, the you know, the, the, the the bottom line really in the end is going to be sending a spacecraft to Enceladus. Yes.
FRED WATSON: The just going back to what we knew these jets contained, we've got a quite a, a big list in addition to the ones that I mentioned earlier, methane, carbon dioxide and ammonia. And these are, of course, all organic mole molecules, molecules containing carbon and Bible fish, probably Bible fish as well. Yes.
FRED WATSON: If you need to translate from you know, one language to another, anyway, you know, it could be, it might be even more exciting than Bible fish is if anything like that could be possible. Because that methane could turn out to be from methane organisms. We don't know that, but all of this still, still highlights. So Enceladus as a, as a fantastic target for further exploration and a couple of things come to mind there.
FRED WATSON: A a mission which is proposed called the Enceladus Orbi Lander. And that, that name tells you what it's gonna do, it will orbit the moon. If, if this goes ahead for about six months and actually flying through those ice ice plumes and then land and look at the exact details of the surface.
FRED WATSON: It probably would not try and penetrate the, the ice though. That's the province of a of one that you and I have spoken about before.
FRED WATSON: Something called eel, which is a bit like an eel. Some, something called a snake robot. Eel is an acronym for Exobiology, extant life surveyor or Eels actually. And one of the brains, one of the principal you know, Buffings behind that is Linda Spilker who was with us a few years ago to, to give the Alison Levick lecture lecture.
FRED WATSON: The Linda Spilker being the Cassini, the Cassini mission scientist, so very, very well equipped to propose new missions. And I think he was one of the ones she was involved with.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Yeah, if that doesn't work, of course, the, the backup mission is the Black And Decker mission, which is, yes, that's right.
FRED WATSON: Or if you really need it, the, the J C B or the Caterpillar mission with the heavy lifting stuff or.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: The mission, any of those, any of those that can drill.
FRED WATSON: If you guys, if you get to go with, you only need one set of batteries that you different.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Right.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Yeah, I actually had a, I got a leaf blower and, the, the leaf blower died before the battery did.
FRED WATSON: Oh, interesting. It is. Isn't it quite surprise? It's still, it's still very much alive. But being tall after on the cardboard tube on the end turned it down to blow away the leaves anyway. That's a different story.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: It is indeed. I, I must say, whoever thought of Enceladus or the Lander. Yeah. But I mean, the, come on could come up with something better than that.
FRED WATSON: I, I, I think in the end it would have, would have a nicer name. But, yeah, I like you. I'm finding this really exciting that the web telescope now can, can turn its, very substantial capabilities onto a moon like Enceladus. Certainly nowhere near the same resolution as we had from, from the casino mission, but lots to find out nevertheless. Yes.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: And, and there's so much attention being paid to Enceladus and it's, similar cousin of Jupiter, which is, I'm stretching to remember the name. Of it. Hang on, hang on.
FRED WATSON: Think, think beginning with t, yes. T I, no, no, Texas instruments. No, t I is, is Titan.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: I wasn't thinking of that. I was thinking of the other.
FRED WATSON: I, this, this, well, Titan is definitely an ice moon notion. I mean, there are the other ice moons that we really know a lot about our Europa.
FRED WATSON: Yes, around all.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Prime candidates for potential life. Exactly. What kind of life we don't know. But if we can get up there and find it and study it and see what it's made up of and whether or not it's the same stuff as us. That would be really interesting.
FRED WATSON: Exactly. Because if we found life there, living organisms there, it would suggest that wherever you've got the raw materials for life and the right environment you're gonna get it.
FRED WATSON: And it was interesting stuff.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Change, change the answer to the Drake equation.
FRED WATSON: That's correct. It would, it would indeed.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: And we're all hoping for that.
FRED WATSON: I, the, the Drake equation though. Well, it would, it certainly puts one further input into the Drake Drake Point. It doesn't give you the answer because that's all about intelligent life. It would be astonishing though if we found vertebrates or something with some kind of intelligence.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: I keep saying, I keep saying it.
FRED WATSON: Krill Krill. That's right. That's hyper intellectual Crill.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: I'm sure they're around there somewhere.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: All right. If, if you want to follow up this story, as Fred said, they haven't released the data yet, but I'm sure it will come to a, a website near you in the not too distant future.
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ANDREW DUNKLEY: Now, Fred to another matter that of dark matter, we get so many questions about this. So many questions about black holes, anything that's got darkness involved is obviously of great interest in the astronomical world and to the layman too.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: But this is a really interesting story about a, a star system that they've known about for a while. But now a couple of astronomers or space scientists are, are are saying hang on a minute. This might not be what you think it is. This could be a dark matter star.
FRED WATSON: Indeed. That's, that's right.
FRED WATSON: So let's do the back story. This comes about from observations made by Gaya which is an astrometrics spacecraft. So GAA is basically something that measures with incredible accuracy, the positions of stars in the sky. In other words, their right ascension and declination, the equivalent of latitude and longitude on earth.
FRED WATSON: And this, this guy system is so accurate that it basically allows us not just to, to measure the positions of stars, but to measure their positions changing over time. And so you can basically look for the motion of stars, for example, if a star is orbiting something else, you will see that motion from the measurements made by and that's what's happened here in that a star, which is nearly the same mass as the sun.
FRED WATSON: It is a sun like star. So it's something like 93% of the mass of the sun, but also has similar chemical properties to the sun. So it's it's got similar, what we call metallic is the amount of of material other than hydrogen that's in its atmosphere.
FRED WATSON: And you can determine that from the spectrum of the star. But the measurements revealed that it's actually orbiting something else which is invisible. And you can look at the analysis of the orbit and you can work out that it's the thing that the star is orbiting is around 11 times the mass of the sun.
FRED WATSON: And the star orbits that at something like the distance that mars is from our, from our sun. So it's, you know, an interesting scenario. And I guess the first thing that you would think of, is that it's a black hole because 11 solar masses is kind of in the regime that, that black holes fit.
FRED WATSON: It would be a quiescent black hole and that's to say one that is not gobbling up. It's, the, the, the gas and dust in its surroundings and causing that to, to form an accretion disk which emits light and x-rays and things of that sort. So it's a black hole that would not be revealed by, by anything other than something going around it.
FRED WATSON: But there is a problem with that and it's because a sun like star, which probably would be typically about the same age as our son 4.5 billion years, would, in order to have survived that long, would, would be unlikely to have been in the vicinity, Either of the black hole or of its predecessor.
FRED WATSON: So that the thinking is that this black hole would have come from, you know, a massive star that collapsed at the end of its life formed a supernova which in itself might get rid of the sun like star. But, but, but you know, that, that, that then continue to exist as a black hole. And the problem is, it, it, it seems that you need to really tinker around with the parameters to make this possibility work.
FRED WATSON: And so the authors of this work have suggested that this is so unlikely that maybe there is a different explanation. And what they have suggested is that this is something called a boson star. Ok. Now bosons are, are the force carriers like like photons. The the electromagnetic force is carried by a boson called a photon.
FRED WATSON: And there's something known as the Higgs boson, which we, we all know about other bosons include the the strong and weak nuclear force forces there two other sorts. So a star that's made of these things, is an exotic sort of star. But that what they're suggesting is that this is a kind of boson that's not already known.
FRED WATSON: In other words, it's not made of photons because that will be light. It's something else and the best candidate for what they're hypothesizing is probably something called an Axion, which is a candidate for dark matter.
FRED WATSON: So, they're suggesting that this is just a clump of dark matter particles which are not switched on into a star because they don't do that. But it's, it's massive enough that we've got this, you know, this other star going around it.
FRED WATSON: It's rather an interesting paper. They, I actually had a look at the, let me see if I can find the paper again, just here we are. It is the paper is called, come on. Where are you? Here? You are.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: We're going well.
FRED WATSON: That why I know I am. Yeah, doing it all on the fly. Sorry to our listeners and viewers. This is the, this is the reality of, of Space Nuts. The paper is called a sun like star orbiting a boson star. Ok.
FRED WATSON: And let me just read it because it actually this written in plain English, which actually tells it like it is the high precision astrometrics mission guyer recently reported the remarkable discovery of a sunlight star closely orbiting a dark object.
FRED WATSON: Well, the plausible explanation for the central dark object is a black hole. The evolutionary mechanism leading to the formation of such a two body system is highly challenging. That's kind of what I just said.
FRED WATSON: But perhaps more succinctly here, we challenge the scenario of a central black hole and show that the observed orbital dynamics can be explained under fairly general assumptions if the central dark object is a stable clump of bosonic particles of spin zero or spin one known as a boson star work that one out.
FRED WATSON: Yeah, we we further explain how future astrometrics measurements of of similar systems will provide an exciting opportunity to probe the fundamental nature of compact objects and test compact alternatives to black hole black holes.
FRED WATSON: In other words, they're they're throwing the, you know, the gauntlet out there they're saying, well, maybe what all the objects that we think are black holes aren't, but they're just piles of dark matter particles and, not black holes at all.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Yeah. I mean, I believe that the, their research is yet to be peer reviewed.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Is that right? That's correct. Yes. And they, they're throwing it open for further study and, and they, I think they even say it's unlikely that this actually is a boson star and they're urging follow up observations. So, yeah, they're just basically saying, look, this is what we've found. This is what we think it could be, but it could be something else and we really need to take a closer look at this.
FRED WATSON: Exactly. So that's exactly right.
FRED WATSON: So, so, so yeah, just something that needs further, further explanation and the work was done by two researchers, Dr Pombo and doctor and I'm not sure where they are. But they have Greek names. So that's a clue.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: They could be in Melbourne if that's the case. It's also true.
FRED WATSON: Hang on. Let's see.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Well, Melbourne is the biggest Greek city outside of Greece in the world.
FRED WATSON: It is. That's, that's correct. Yes, absolutely. Right.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: And I have enjoyed Greek food in Melbourne from a, from a genuine family Greek restaurant. So it was genuine Greek food. It was damn nice.
FRED WATSON: Excellent. It's good, good to know because that's kind of sort of what you need. What you need to know when you go traveling. Yes.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: I, I, one thing that's popped into my head about this is we've talked in the past about how dark matter is. Probably not well named and dark energy is even, has even got a worse name because it's not, that, are, are we walking down that path again by calling this a dark matter star? Because it's not a star?
FRED WATSON: Yes. That's right. It's a clump. Yeah, it's a dark matter. You could almost call it a dark matter nebula because nebulae are sort of clouds of gas.
FRED WATSON: Very, yes, very interesting terminology there. Maybe it's a, a sort of dark, the equivalent of a dark matter star. So, what is it? It's a, a dark matter lump or something of a dark matter blob.
FRED WATSON: Yeah.
FRED WATSON: A dark matter blog that, that could be it.
FRED WATSON: They, these two researchers, by the way, are at the Czech Academy Of Sciences. So I was wrong there.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: So, was I not in Melbourne? Not in Melbourne?
FRED WATSON: That's right.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Ok. So this is a, a bit of a new idea and a new concept and it's certainly a bit of a Curveball in the scheme of things. So when, when, you know, from your perspective, as somebody who's been in the industry for so long, what happens now? Are they, they've thrown this one out there? Is someone going to take the bait and, and maybe come up with an alternative theory or what.
FRED WATSON: But yes, very likely. I mean, in, in this particular case, what you've got is, is a, you know, a sample of one.
FRED WATSON: Something that doesn't look as though it's going to be a black hole, but it's something else I think what will happen is that people will maybe trawl through the data with a bit more of a of a background in looking for this kind of object and dig up more of these normal stars orbiting dark spaces.
FRED WATSON: It has happened before you and I have in fact spoken about people finding black holes because of the orbits of the objects around them, but it's usually been fairly unequivocal that it's a black hole.
FRED WATSON: And it's not a kind of normal sun like star that's orbiting around it. In fact, I think we talked about the dark. Was it the the black hole police? I think they were called these people who tried to debunk the idea of that, all these things are black holes.
FRED WATSON: So yes, there'll be more observations, hopefully, more examples dug up. And a lot of thinking by the theoretical astronomers who will try and make it all work in terms of, you know, what the real realistic scenarios are.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Yes, very interesting to watch. And hopefully we'll have more on that in the not too distant future if you want to find out more about it. In the meantime, you'll easily find it on the web at the live science dot com website or space dot com. This is Space Nuts with Andrew Dunkley and Professor Fred Watson.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Ok, Fred. Before we get stuck into questions for this week, some follow up, Ross asked us last week about the brightest of all time in terms of an explosion. And, I was a bit off track with what I thought he was talking about. But we've, we've, you've got some more information on the boat.
FRED WATSON: Yes, the boat. So yeah, we, we, we got confused as you. Well, I would do with no, no, I don't know. 222 acronyms with different meanings. The boat meaning the brightest of all time and the boat meaning the biggest of all time. And what we talked about last week was the, the the biggest of all time.
FRED WATSON: Whereas the brightest of all time turns out to be a gamma ray burst which was detected last year and has copious amounts of energy. It is the brightest of all time. And I think I think it might have been Russ rather than Ross. I'm not sure, but Ross's question was he had heard that there may be sort of insights into new physics coming from what needs to be explained there.
FRED WATSON: And that essentially is confirmed by my reading of the situation that the amount of energy that's involved. Even, you know, if you allow for the fact that this gamma ray burst is formed by a burst of energy that's direct directed towards earth.
FRED WATSON: And it is highly Colin that means it's a very parallel beam of radiation that you're seeing. That to form that that there is, there is difficulty in accounting for that observation with what we know about physics as it stands.
FRED WATSON: But you can bet your life that somebody will. Oh, absolutely. You know, the theoretical astronomers will get their brains around it. Oh, yeah, we should have noted, we should have expected this, but we didn't.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Well, I, I think when it comes to astronomy always expect the unexpected.
FRED WATSON: Indeed. That's exactly right. Especially when you're doing podcasts like this one, something unexpected.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Ok, Russ. So watch this space again, is what we're saying.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: And Clyde was asking about dark matter black holes. Was he asking whether or not they could exist?
FRED WATSON: He was. That's right.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: It's interesting considering we just talked about a dark matters.
FRED WATSON: Yes, that's right. So, you know, it's a nice segue from that which we completely failed to make, but never mind.
FRED WATSON: So, that was my fault, Clyde asked whether you could have dark matter black holes and I sort of waffled about this to say yes, it's possibly true because the, you know, the, the driving force behind a black hole is gravity and dark matter experiences gravity.
FRED WATSON: But, but there are issues and it's all to do with the way that we know black holes are formed either by you know, by an exploding star of one sort or another or, or just a direct collapse of a, of a cloud of gas. And it turns out that in order to make the black hole, you have to have interactions between particles and you in particular, you have to have things like friction, things like electromagnetic phenomena.
FRED WATSON: In order to make that collapse take place and the dark matter particles, whatever they are do not have that they don't have any other interaction, they only interact gravitationally. And so the thinking is that there would be no such thing as a dark matter black hole.
FRED WATSON: Yeah. Ok. There you go. Surprised me too.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Until someone proves there is one. Exactly.
FRED WATSON: Somebody, somebody is sure to come along. Yes.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Right. There you go. Clyde. Hopefully that gives you just a, a fraction more information. But it's not much, is it a bit of a bit of a work in progress? Let's go to our questions and I just want to say thanks to Rusty, one of our regulars from Donny Brook in Western Australia for sending me this Scorpio pic. He took a photo of constellation Scorpio the other day and sent it through.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: It looks rather spectacular. Must have some great sky in Donnybrook has Rusty.
FRED WATSON: They must have, the constellation is Scorpius.
FRED WATSON: Scorpio is what the astrologist took. Oh, of course.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Sorry about that. Yes, I know how you feel about that. But this is not about Scorpius, this is about white dwarf stars, but, he's taking it a bit further, Fred and he's questioning astronomers all over the world with this one.
RUSTY: Hey, Fred and Andrew, it's Rusty in Donnybrook and I have a curly one for you regarding white dwarves. We've recently discovered a couple in the milky way that are nine and 10 billion years old and they're not the oldest, they had found one in another galaxy, 11.5 billion years old.
RUSTY: Its mass is around about 5.55 or 55% of the sun's mass and the sun is expected to lose some mass. And when it becomes a white dwarf in another five billion years, the 55 53% of its current mass.
RUSTY: Now, the sun is a 10 billion year life in the main sequence before becoming a white dwarf. And these white dwarfs are around 10 billion years old.
RUSTY: That means that the universe must be at least 20 billion years old.
RUSTY: Would you care to explain why that wouldn't be the case.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Veracity or stirring the pot?
FRED WATSON: My friend Sting the plot. That's right. Well, the universe can't be 20 billion years old because everything we know about, it says it's 13.8 billion years old and that's a very self consistent picture. So there's something wrong with the interpretation there.
FRED WATSON: And my guess is, and I don't really know enough about the evolution of normal stars at the, you know, of, of various masses I should do actually because that's one of the fields that I've specialized in, but I will check up on this, but there must be quicker ways of producing a white dwarf than just doing what the sun will do to produce its white dwarf, which Rusty, right?
FRED WATSON: It will be kind of about half a solar mass thereabouts when it when it, when it's finished blowing off its outer layers. So white dwarfs should have explained the the end product of normal stellar evolution a star when it runs out of hydrogen fuel goes through various what we call old age phenomena.
FRED WATSON: But eventually ends up with the former nucleus of the star or the core of the star becoming a white dwarf, which is electron degenerate. It's only the electrons that are stopping it from collapsing further into a neutron star or a black hole.
FRED WATSON: And you know, the interesting thing about white dwarfs is that that we have an upper limit for their mass beyond which they explode. And that's why we know the brightness of type one, a supernovae because they are exploding white dwarfs at a mass of 1.4 times the mass of the song, which they attained by accreting other stuff. That's the, the higher mass end of white dwarfs.
FRED WATSON: We're talking about the low mass end of white dwarfs. And Rusty. I will indeed follow up on your question to find out what the mechanisms are for forming these low mass white dwarfs and whether we can do it in, you know, maybe a couple of billion years rather than 10 billion years. Yes, I, I.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: I put an asterisk next to Rusty because that's another follow up. We've got to do. Yeah.
FRED WATSON: Well, we, we, we've got a good track record on follow ups for the last week for the last six years.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: I doubt two.
FRED WATSON: Out of two, well, two out of 100 for the last six years, two out of two for the last week.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Indeed. Thank you Rusty. So we'll get back to you on that one. Let's go to David now, who's well, we got another focus on satin. Satin has been big news the last couple of weeks.
DAVID: You know, Fred Andrew David here from Queensland. Just a quick question. May have a quick answer. Listening to the podcast regarding Saturn and the ring rain falling to the planet.
DAVID: Fred obviously mentioned as we know, the planet is the most perhaps it is the deposition of material from the ring rain increase the or is it just a factor of its gravitational spin? Thanks very much. Love the show. See you guys.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: See you, David. Thank you. Alright, there's a, there's a theory.
FRED WATSON: Yeah, it's a great suggestion, David. But I think to quote the time on the phrase, I think you'll find.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: It's so polite, isn't it?
FRED WATSON: I know it's, it's when people are being pedantic, I think you'll find. No, that wasn't, that wasn't written in 17 41. It was 17 45. Anyway, I think you'll find that, the, the mass of the rings, you know, even if you pile the whole of the ring system onto Saturn's equator, it won't make any difference to the, the brightness of the planet.
FRED WATSON: Because the amount of material in it is, is very, very small compared with the mass of the planet. So, Saturn's are blankness, which is explained just by, you know, normal, normal physics. The physics of rotating bodies is due to Saturn's rapid rotation speed and the fact that, and, and probably things like its density as well.
FRED WATSON: Because, you know, you can get things that rotate faster but don't go quite as oblate. It's, it's so the, is the, the swelling around the waist. The fact that that the, the globe is slightly flattened actually pretty well. All the planets are all the earth included.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: If you look at the numbers. It's, it, it might surprise people.
FRED WATSON: Yeah. Yeah, it's, yes, definitely I can. It's tens of kilometers. Yeah, it is.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: It quite a, quite a bit, quite a lot.
FRED WATSON: So I think the answer is, it's a nice suggestion. But, we think that is probably not enough to make any difference to the politeness of Sutter.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Ok. There you go. David Simple. You did think it would be an easy answer. Quick answer. So, yeah, he got that right.
FRED WATSON: The question is, did I?
FRED WATSON: Yeah.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Well, it's astronomy. So who knows? Who knows? And finally we're going to hear from Jeff who's got a what if? Question for us?
JEFF: Hi, this is Jeff from Los Angeles.
JEFF: I have a question for you guys.
JEFF: If it was possible to go into a black hole and survive that go beyond the event horizon and I know it's not possible but if it was possible and one were to look back on the universe, what would they see?
FRED WATSON: Oh, that's a good question.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Oh, he caught me off guard. He's finished. Yes, Jeff. Thank you.
FRED WATSON: Sorry.
FRED WATSON: Yeah.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Well, my thinking is nothing but I don't know.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: You know, putting spaghettification aside or linguini as some people have decided it should be.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Let's just assume for a moment you remain intact, you go into the black hole and you want to look out. Well, nothing escapes a black hole. So I don't, yeah, it's hard to answer the question.
FRED WATSON: But stuff goes into a black hole. Yeah. So photons can go into a black hole. But I think you're right though. I think it's dark inside a black hole.
FRED WATSON: And within the outside, not inside a black hole but within the event horizon.
FRED WATSON: Because the, the, the, the, you know, the fact that stuff is, is definitely crossing that boundary, to be gobbled up by the black hole and photons must as well. What the viewpoint from within the black hole itself is, is, something that I think is dark and I think it's because, the, basically, you know, the, the photons themselves are swallowed up by the black hole.
FRED WATSON: Because, there's nothing can exceed the speed of light. I'm actually my logic here is a little bit suss because I'm kind of thinking in vague circles, but I might, I might take, give some more sober thought to this and follow up. But, but yeah, I'll follow it up. But my guess is, my guess is we're gonna.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Do a whole show of follow ups in a few weeks.
FRED WATSON: Yeah. Yeah. Well, that's right. We could do that. I think inside the black hole is dark, but I'll need to check the physics of that.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Unless you take a Torch or a flash light. If you're in a mirror.
FRED WATSON: Switch your flashlight on and all the photons immediately get sucked into it into the black hole as well as your flashlight. And you, by the way.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: I, now I said we weren't going there. You, you, you're remaining intact.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Yes. Yeah. You couldn't use a flashlight or a Torch in, in a black hole because the light would gone.
FRED WATSON: Yeah, not a very coherent answer. Jeff. I apologize for that but watch this space because we're getting really good at following up. Yes.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Yes. There's another two we've got to do for next week.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: That's good. It could be a whole new segment this week, this week on follow up with Fred.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Alright. That exhausts this week's questions, but don't forget if you have questions for us, send them through via our website space NTS podcast dot com or Space Nuts dot I O and just click on the a ma link at the top of the page and you can send us a text or audio question there or you can click on the link on the right hand side of the home page.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: As long as you've got a device with a microphone, you are set and don't forget to tell us who you are and where you're from. And I will remind social media users, particularly those who use linkedin, which I called linkedin for many years before someone told me, what are you talking about linkedin? I never, I never put it together, Fred. Honestly, I looked at it over and over and I thought, what is this linkedin thing?
ANDREW DUNKLEY: True story ages before I finally got it. Right. Linkedin. We're on linkedin these days. If you would like to follow us on linkedin, just do a search for bites dot com. B I T E S Z dot com. That's our parent organization bites dot com. And we need 100 and 50 followers and once we get 100 and 50 followers followers on linkedin, we will be able to stream live, which we want to do.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: We're doing it on as many platforms as possible. So, linkedin is one we want to add to our repertoire. So that's that's where we're at with our social media as well as Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and some others, one others, one others. That's good, isn't it? One or two others? But yes, linkedin, if you're a linkedin user, check us out bites dot com. Fred. We go on, sorry.
FRED WATSON: A suggestion for a follow up. The name of our follow up segment, our space Space Nuts. The questions they dare not answer.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: That could work.
FRED WATSON: That could work very well.
FRED WATSON: Sorry, Andrew. You were about to wrap up. That's OK, Fred.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: We've reached the end of the show. Thank you so much.
FRED WATSON: It's a pleasure. Always a pleasure, especially when things keep going as they have done for the last five minutes.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Yeah. Well, you know, when you've got to reach a certain time frame, you, you do a radio trick. It's just called, you know.
FRED WATSON: Stretching out the, the, the, the, the keeping going I was referring to was the technology, Andrew. You see it's gone so well, you've forgotten. Oh, yes, yes.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: I, I just didn't want to dare us with another dropout.
FRED WATSON: I've probably done it already.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Alright. Thank you, Fred. We'll catch you next week.
FRED WATSON: Sounds great.
ANDREW DUNKLEY: Fred Watson astronomer at large part of the team here at Space Nuts. And thanks to Hugh in the studio for reasons I cannot explain. But thanks anyway, and from me, Andrew Dunkley. Always a pleasure. Thanks for joining us. We'll catch you on the very next episode. Bye bye. Space.
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