Astronomy, Pythagorean Astronomy, Radio and Podcasts

Pythagorean Astronomy: Mass Gaps and Radio Bursts

Artist’s rendition shows a neutron star orbiting a larger black hole. Image credit: Carl Knox (OzGrav)

Science news stories normally revolve around something new that’s been learned, or some question that’s been answered. But sometimes, and these are often the most interesting times, there’s an observation or discovery that raises a whole new set of questions – and the mystery deepens. This month we discuss two such discoveries.

First of all, an unusual gravitation wave event, detected back in August 2019 and dubbed GW190814. We’ve discussed gravitational waves a number of times on Pythagorean Astronomy before – these ripples in space that are caused by, among other things, massive objects spiralling in and merging. Cardiff University researchers Dr Fabio Antonini and graduate student Charlie Hoy explain why this discovery is unusual, and what we know about the source objects.

Second up is the conundrum of Fast Radio Bursts. First discovered in 2007, the latest discovery in the unravelling detective story was made by the CHIME telescope, and involves a fast radio burst that appears to repeat on a roughly 16 day timescale. The study was led by Dongzi Li, a graduate student in Toronto University, who explores what might create such a peculiar signal.

An extended edition of an original broadcast on 2nd July 2020 as part of Pythagoras’ Trousers on Radio Cardiff.