Listen: The Era of Multi-Messenger Astronomy is Here
"For the longest time astronomers could only study the skies with their pathetic telescopes but then new techniques and technologies acknowledges were developed to help us in different wavelengths now astronomers can study objects in both visible light neutrinos gravitational waves cosmic rays and more the era of multi. Multi Messenger is here our Pamela. I've been seeing this term multi messenger astronomy more and more recently. So can you help people understand. Stand what is it well. It's not new. So let's just start with that. So the first big multi messenger discovery that people really he point to Supernova nine hundred ninety seven nineteen eighty-seven nine hundred eighty seven nineteen eighty-seven a which was detected in neutrinos as well as in in light a sense then the reason that we're now hearing about this. so much was the neutron star Neutron Star merger that occurred in two two thousand seventeen so thirty years later and that particular discovery which I've heard heard estimates of one in ten astronomers to three in ten years in the world depending on how you count. Astronomers worked on that particular discovery well that one was detected across gravitational waves all kinds of the electromagnetic spectrum and with so many different kinds times of detections going on with so many different people. This of course started everyone talking about multi Multi Messenger Strana me and also asking. Hey can we have funding dedicated to what we've been piecemeal together on our own on. So now we're starting to see these funded coordinated efforts where you have high altitude cosmic ray detectors in in Mexico working in coordination with buried in ice neutrino detectors in Antarctica in combination with gravitational tation wave detectors spanning all around our planet to together try and understand our universe and so like when radio waves. Microwaves visible infrared x rays gamma rays. That's all part of the electromagnetic spectrum and that kind of work has been done for for decades that you will look at something in both radio waves and in visible light and we call that that multi wavelength multi wavelength. Because it's essentially still just the same thing it's just photons right and so you're you're only really seeing it in one dimension. So can you explain. I mean it's useful but can you explain why it's not as as useful as starting to bring these other technologies on board well at at the end of the day thanks to this whole equals. MC squared the thing. We are able to have energy and matter transition back and forth in different ways through different astrophysical processes. So if you have a good old happy hot star hanging out somewhere. In the universe it's going to be generating light in a whole variety of the different colors in those colors are function of temperatures the star and if it happens to be flaring doing something particularly dramatic you may may get physics that has also on top of that generating xrays brand Marie high energy events but in general a nice good old fashioned black body radiation is what we call this warm object star hanging out is just GonNa be giving off photons of light that we can detect here On Earth and by looking at different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum we're probing different kinds of activities. were seeing everything from how the atmosphere of the star is absorbing out different colors of light telling us well what's the composition of the star we see radio radio signals that are starting to tell us about the environment around the star. Everything's different physical process. In a different piece of information right and at at the end of the day photons or photons and so and so in most circumstances you're GonNa see this nice smooth black body curve that you would expect expect to see and then as you said if you get like Aurora's on Jupiter then you might get a burst of x rays or if you're seeing some kind of radio emission from from your some magnetic field reconnection on the sun then you're going to get something else but so let's talk about. What are the avenues of? What are the new other other ways that we can perceive the universe and we should've quickly went through a bunch of them? Let's take some time now and then talk about what we've got. What astronomers have at their disposal so with with photons for using the electromagnetic spectrum with other things were still able to do that to a degree? so M- yuan's for instance. There are kind of particle that gets formed in our upper atmosphere. When high energy particles hit the atmosphere energy gets turned into a particle L. and those particles get detected at the surface of our planet Thanks to how they interact with different electric packets. Basically you can go to a variety of museums. See these setups. FLASH OF LIGHT WILL OCCUR WHEN IMMU- on hits the system and what we're seeing here is okay. Something with a lot of energy occurred at the top of the atmosphere created particles particles particles went at close to the speed of light changing their own experience of time as they did so until the interacted at the surface of our planet. So this doesn't get a lot of information about where the particles came from. And this is actually something that you're GonNa hear me repeat so we can detect mu on's at the surface of our world. That's cool we know there's cosmic rays because we see static on our television set when we're taking images with the CCD era Seema's chip. We'll see these bright blown out pixels. This is from particles either generated in granite and other slightly radioactive active rock. That's coming up from the planet or it's created by something that made it through our solar systems outer boundary traveled through the solar system and traveled through the atmosphere and made a massive itself. I've got an analogy that that I like to use with this is that it's kind of like watching fireworks especially if you're like under underneath the fireworks and so use the firework goes off and you see the bright flash of the actual firework itself and then you might see other flashes of other sub parts of the firework go off but if you're close enough and if you've ever like I dunno shot You know the big close up you can like sometimes like dust will fall down on from the the fireworks which is just like the particles that are made up in it will rain down tonight. You've got like sort of two separate pieces of evidence that a that firework went off. You're seeing the light but you're also seeing feeling the particles that are that are landing around around you but then you also can hear it. You can hear the sound waves from the fireworks that are coming from it and if you know if if a really precise seismometers when those booms are going off or when the firework is firing it will be shaking the ground and you would be able to detect the motion of that and each one is almost like a completely different way of sensing that these fireworks are are happening. And it's all each one tells you more information about what happened. And they're they're all independent. which is which is the key here? So cosmic rays are darkest like the toughest one right. Yeah they're and they're the toughest one to be able to. We don't know still what's really causing the most energetic these right so so to continue with your analogy that dust. That AH hitting you. It's been blown by the wind. It's been caught in various updrafts interacted with birds wings in some cases and all these different interactions with the dust. Experiences between being generated in that fireworks burst and dusting you. Those hide where it came came from. You can't trace back the path to figure out exactly where the fireworks occurred and with cosmic. Rays these are charged particles as charged charged particles. Move through the universe they're going to encounter a myriad of different magnetic fields in each of these different magnetic fields is going to deflect that charged particle one way another possibly multiple over different interactions over time. So when we see these cosmic raise and any of the myriad of different detectors we have scattered about the surface of our planet. Well we have no idea where they came from"