[“What’s changed in the last 50 years” series] The lightness of our being actually depends on heaviness. That is, the physics of heavier elements. Our biology, life itself. So, looking back decades to high school (or even college) chemistry class … The Periodic Table is so much more interesting now. A deeper understanding via quantum… Continue reading Stellar alchemy – more than one way to get heavy?
Quote: “Always two there are, no more, no less.” – Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace  Well, stars do not always come in pairs (or triples, etc.). But binary stars – stellar pairs – are common. Estimates vary. Wiki uses an estimate “that approximately one third [33%] of the star systems in… Continue reading Stellar pairs – when the tango stops
So, what are axions? I’ve noticed more articles lately about axions. Why all the fuss, eh? • Wiki The axion is a hypothetical elementary particle postulated by the Peccei–Quinn theory in 1977 to resolve the strong CP problem [violation of the combined symmetries of charge conjugation and parity] in quantum chromodynamics (QCD). If axions exist… Continue reading What are axions – real or not?
Ask people on the street “What are X-rays?” and you’ll likely get a variety of replies. About medical and dental X-rays. Stories about Superman’s X-ray vision. (Why does lead block X-rays?) Invisible particles that allow us to see through stuff. Technical explanations about electromagnetic radiation. So, street surveys typically reveal levels of understanding, which I’ll… Continue reading Levels of understanding – what are X-rays?
So many media headlines today regarding the observation of both light (EM spectrum, not just visible/optical light) and gravitational waves from colliding neutron stars. Lots of visualizations. Big science in action. Here’s a sampling of headlines: Gravitational waves from kilonova collision of neutron stars discovered – The Washington Post Gravitational waves: So many new toys… Continue reading Kilonovas and multi-messenger astrophysics
Supernovas are mind-boggling. But supernovas are not all the same. For example, magnetars. Like other neutron stars, magnetars are around 20 kilometres (12 mi) in diameter and have a mass 2–3 times that of the Sun. The density of the interior of a magnetar is such that a thimble full of its substance would have a mass… Continue reading Magneto’s star