158: Finding Snoopy


In fifteen seconds guidance internal Chan nine ignition sequence, Spence nuts. Three four five one. This report. It feels good again. And thank you for joining us on this podcast, we affectionately, call space nuts. That's because we're not as fruitcakes but we love it, and it's great to have your company once again, and joining me as always is professor, Fred Watson. Hello, Fred, Andrew, fellow space. Not too many more in the packet. Then when this started it started as the packet nowadays is auto several thousands, which had now it's a lot more. I'm gonna be. I'm actually going to push the humorous odd for moment and say it is just fabulous to be. Having seventy downloads per week thousands upon thousands, and it is it is remarkable and on. I'm just so chuffed in. Thrilled that people are enjoying the show. And we're getting some nice messages. We'd just go on yesterday from someone who said, I don't know anything about astronomy. And I've been listening for. A while now. And I've learnt so much, but I really enjoy the way we deliver it. So that's terrific. I just on glad we've found a formula that makes people happy. Now fred. How are you? Very well. Thank you. You've been o s slightly jetlagged is sought flew in yesterday, from Berlin, because on been in Pottstown, which is a city right next door to Berlin, which is the home of the live knits institute press physics. She's one of Germany's primarily astrophysics, institutions, and why have been, why was it at because there was a meeting that of scientists who have been associated with the right survey. And you might remember that rave is an acronym for the radio velocity experiment. Which is a survey of actually turned out in the end to behalf a million stars. Guess he's nine from the fact that we originally, set it up to measure radial velocities, which is velocity of star along the line of signed, when we started back in two thousand and three there were only about the Wor radio of losses known for only. About thirty thousand styles twenty thirty thousand stars until we increase that by measuring half a million, but there are new surveys on the horizon, which will push that up even further talk to some one that we've talked about the guy that satellite which is measuring stars in hundreds of millions. Nevertheless, the ripe survey was groundbreaker. It did marvelous research. We've had since the survey was finished back in two thousand thirteen something like one hundred and sixty papers big published about the results from it. So this mating, impart stem, was the kind of shutdown meeting for the survey. And I guess there were about forty scientists that all of whom have been involved one way or another with the survey, including the principal investigator, have professor Matisse Steinmetz of the institute, Potsdam. He led the survey that was a project scientist, whose name is Tomas vita. He's based in Libya. To. She's a good friend of me on this as well. And the project manager was somebody called Fred Watson, who was based in Australia because we would things vary. Yeah, you got to watch him though. He does pub casino. You just can't trust the podcast. So it was great to see everybody to talk about the signs come from the survey. There were something like twenty presentations. I did one about what has happened in Australia. Australian astronomy, since we stopped the survey, which was back in two thousand thirteen because the been huge changes to a strategy in astronomy. Many of which you and I have spoken about, but everybody was interested in that because it's got a very European century. Qiliang tell if I can put it that way. The members of the team, many of them are, are in Europe is central in the USA plant full in Australia, but was very much weighted towards European scientists, which is great. Because the strategy now he's very close to European the scientific sense without strategic punish it with the Europeans Villanova. Jay down each lay, so great stuff. And it was delighted I could go is a long trek homewards butts. I manage to make it all in one piece yesterday morning. It's a heck of a trait Biden, I did it last year and u hi special up here. You basically traveling for twenty four hours solid ticket from from Haiti, righty Sydney, or or whatever it's pretty heavy. You know, the thing that I sent on these flights and think it takes astonishing that we can do that given the way things were. Well, when I was a kid, you know, sixty years ago, whatever it is more than that. It was a took five days to get to a strategy by stops all away. And now we just sit in an environment. You know, we sit in something the size of a village role on where completely bought from the bump of turbulence completely unaware of the fact that we're, we're going around the world. You, you got back one hundred years when my grandfather, went to the western Iran, he Sydney, and it took three months for him to get to England by they didn't have aircraft back then could carry PayPal, at far in great knows -solutely pretty astonishing that we've done so much so fast and that leads us to some of the topics, we're going to talk about this way out of the first one is Snoopy Nass, newbie is a model that they actually lost as part of the Apollo project, and given that we're coming up on the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo eleven mission. It's, it's appropriate to, to look at these Qassam. Something's happened with Snoopy interestingly enough and suppose should let you know that Fred's leaving the country again, very, very soon. So we're going to have to do some cramming. So we're just going to do for the next three episodes, shorter shopper episodes, and try and bump off a hall hypoc questions in the process. So. I hope you understand that the other thing, that's rather impending is the situation that might involve the door behind me, my grandchildren. Do he anytime and soon as I arrive all bets are off? There's no way I will be able to do anymore podcast recording because they were led me and they went to they will not be quite therefore and two. And that'll be the end of that. So we're gonna get cramming. So let's get stuck into it. Fred, the Snoopy module, now this was Apollo ten wasn't it? Yeah. That's right. Polo ten of the mission that not surprisingly immediately preceded Apollo eleven and it was basically a test run for the Apollo landings in July nine hundred sixty nine the first to pull the lending in June, July nineteen sixty nine it was a Paulo ten flew little bit earlier the same year, and it did the whole deal. Bill went to the moon, but didn't land. So what happened was the spacecraft orbited the moon as planned an exactly as they did in polo eleven. And then, so this, of course, the Apollo spacecraft were in several modules the command module, which was the, the conical bit wet, which actually is only bit came back to earth. The command module on a on a polygon was named Charlie Brown after the cartoon character until the Luna Montiel the bit that went down to lunar surface had to be called Snoopy because that was Charlie Brown's dog. So it did stuff followed all the protocols touchdown to within fifty thousand fate of the lunar surface, which was the point at which normally they descent module would kind of kick in each rockets and stop the touchdown procedure on the lunar surface. But instead of. Doing that. What they did was they mimicked the return flight from the lunar surface to the command module, which, of course, was in orbit around the moon, so that the upper part of the lunar module was basically, what brought them back to the, the command module, the low part of the lunar module actually crashed on the moon. The French K backs on the moon, but the upper PA the bit that carry the astronauts having docked with the command module, and the two astronauts Tom Stafford, and gene. Cernan transferring back into the command module, namely, Charlie Brown. What a NASA did was fired. The engine of the lunar module Snoopy's engine to take it out of lunar orbit basically put into over to the some. And then they, you know, there was no real reason to, to keep to keep going with a, so they, they essentially forgot about it and having done that nobody really thought about it anymore that mission continued, according to plan, the astronauts came back to earth in that beautiful dress rehearsal for polo eleven and it's only I guess, recently that people have started thinking, I want to know what happened to Snoopy, and in particular an amateur, astronomer, although as a member of the Royal astronomical society that the peak body in the UK. He has done a lot of work on trying to work out when snoopys. Partly in terms of calculating whereabouts. It might be given the, the orbital parameters that we know about Snoopy and orbits around the sun. But then trolling through all the data on the web, which comes from the world's big telescopes. Because basically when you do a survey, for example. Right. The rave survey, even though that was on stars and the intimate details of stars. They, they results are now all publicly available on the worldwide web on, on a side hosted in them. So the same is true with all the telescopes of the world, the data factually public now. And so. They cows ate the mature astronomer, whose lead this project, the stroll through stuff to find evidence of slowly moving object to faint slowly moving object in space and says he is ninety eight percent convinced that he's founded where. Where? Well, it's kind of, in some is not around the sun, eatings where planned where it ought to be. That's right. It's a thing actually Nick house must be mathematician of, of some. No. Because he estimated the odds of locating the module would two hundred thirty five million to one horse. So he's ninety percent six convinced that he's filed it that would have needed, you know, you couldn't limit down limited to a certain part of the sky just knowing the parameters of what an orbit is it takes a year for something to get round the earth, and, you know, where cell from. So it gives some idea of whereabouts. It might be. Sorry, did I say, oh between the us? I mean it takes a year for an object in an orbiter around the some to go around once. That's what I meant to say. So I'm just playing it back in my mind, realizing, jetlagged and talking rubbish and they, they trolled through all the stuff and convinced they've located it. The problem is, how do you prove it? And you know this is really difficult. That's not an obvious way to do it because this is a small object. It will come relatively close to us. But you've kind of got to wait for that to happen. And maybe the best bet will be right. Our observations. We often find images of asteroids near earth, asteroids, which should been made by some of the big radio telescope dishes in the world. You can you can use them as writer scanners basically, and probe the surface of something like an asteroid, but this is much smaller. You know, this is three or four meters across at most, it's not asteroid sized, I think, what, what is perhaps, at the back of this team's mind is maybe just maybe one of these extraordinarily wealthy space enthusiast, like Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos might just mount mission to. Send a spacecraft with a camera on bought the Luke. I they would be fantastic out of condition. Would it be in now? It should still be pretty good. It would you know, he's got fifty years of, of bombardment by the sun's radiation, and by the solar wind. But that takes many thousands of years to make any real difference to a metal surface. So, I think it would be in pretty neat condition, actually. There is a nice quotation from from, from Nick, the, the, you know, the, the person who's lead this project they cows. He's he spoken to actually to Jane Cerna. Now, I think Jane died a couple years ago, I think we might have covered that in, in, in our space knows podcasts. But what, what they cows of said is I would love to get Ilan musk and he's wonderful space craft up and grab it and bring it down. And then he goes on to say, as Apollo ten crew member Eugene Cernan said to me son, if you find that and bring it down. Imagine the queues at the Smithsonian this deed. Now it would be amazing, but very, very costly project. I would I would think so. Yeah, it will be for. What is what amounts to space, archaeology this falls within the prominent providence now called spice archaeology? Well, and because it's I have a twenty five years old, it's, it's also classified as a. Vintage DeVos is not. Just like you have made. Well, let's, let's wait and see what happens with, with Snoopy. He's, he sounds like he's pretty confident that he spotted it or knows where it is in who knows maybe someone will retrieve it, or at least go and have a quick squeeze in tech. Some NAS photographs of it. Listening, on course with the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing episode close, we're getting pretty excited because I think we're going to have to do a favor to talking about that Fred when the time comes nothing you might be right there is indeed. I will be a various locations in Australia Dade. Okay. This is spice nuts. The podcast, of course, with Andrew Dunkley and Fred Watson. Here. Also space nuts. And just a reminder that you can certainly follow us on the YouTube these days, if you're a YouTube user, you'll find podcast there we're also on Instagram these days through bites dot com. B I T E S, Zid dot com. In fact, I think it's, it's something something can't remember. But if you have a look around, you'll find it on Instagram Facebook as well, is, is where we spend a fair bit of time and we share a lot of stories. They not just the things we talk about in the podcast. But all sorts of astronaut Michael information and patriarch way, you can subscribe to our podcast for a fee of your choice and basically support this podcast as you see fit. And we now Fred have twenty patrons who ram vying for little Fe every month to, to Cape bail. Gas going, which is fantastic. And they get extra bonus bits and pieces as a part of that, and they also get the commercial free version of the podcast at patriots. So that's patriot dot com slash spice nuts. If you wanna take a look at that now Fred, let's get into a couple of questions and the first one comes from Justin Blais. Hi, justin. Hi, Ghazi says, I love your podcast. I'm from Knoxville, Tennessee will look that Justin and wanted to get your guy's opinion on the board tease void and what you think is causing it. Well before we can even discuss what's causing it? We probably need to understand what the bodies void is. Okay. So it's named after it comes selection in, in the northern hemisphere. And it's, it's actually it's a funny word it's usually pronounced ball, teas. So the tools in it, it looks like booties Bautista. The second has a number out over to tell you that it is pronounced as a separate bell. What does it mean? Well, it's the, the herdsman the Greek constellation go, great nine bodies. The constellation is the Hudson on a basically quite a large constellation in the northern sky. So that's what's. That's where the nine comes from. But the void part of it is because Bhatti's element, the direction of Bossi's modern surveys have galaxies of shown that there is a void there. There's a place where there are very few galaxies in cut. We now know it's no time but for quite a while. It was it was thought to be devoid of galaxy. So this large volume of space, and it is largest about three hundred thirty million light years in diameter, now, I'm just to put this into context, we know that on the on average in the universe. The universe is made what we say he's galaxies. We say, lots and lots of galaxies, but they're not uniformly distributed that UNIFIL distributed a bit like a honeycomb. And in fact, one really good analogies to imagine. Froth of soap bubbles with empty space in between Elise membranes linking them together. And that's kind of what the universe is, like, where's the membrane tonight of shades of galaxies, basically, in which we find not just individual galaxies, but clusters as well, so voids? Very normal. But the typical size of void is about hundred million light years. This one is three times the size of that. So this might be what you could call a soup avoid. And in fact, some people have called it, that it was discovered by somebody, I know actually astronomer cold bump, Kirschner, Robert Kirshner, who's at university of Harvard, trying to know him so well, still a couple of jokes using my talk, but don't tell anybody. He's, he's lot funnier the may as well as being very clever being very clever. Scientists reported it back in the early nineteen eighties. And, you know, the reason why could report it is because he was measuring the three dimensional distribution of galaxies in space in came across his plex, whether there was no galaxies. We now know that there are at least sixty galaxies within the ball tease void, but given size, and if he kind of take a guess as to wall, you might expect in avoid you would expect many mall. So it does mean that this is a very unusual part of the universe something turning now to the question. What do I make of the ball taste void? It's an unusually. Knol dense part of the universe quite rarefied in terms of the galaxies that are there, but the bottom line is it does not contravene our current models of what the universe might look like. So if you say we kind of understand why you got a soap bubble appearance of the universal froth of soap bubble appearance. He comes from conditions just after the big bang. So that's why that structure is that in fact, we could see imprinted on the cosmic microwave background radiation. Not celebrated flash of the big bang, that you can now see with radio telescopes, so it doesn't come Trevino understanding of that it in other words, it's just a big one just a big void, but he's not anything that is prohibited by theoretical understanding of the universe. So it fits the Bill by sickly this one more comment to make which doesn't come from me comes from an astronomer by the name of Greg older laying who, as I think. The Lawrence Livermore laboratory, which is probably is the university of, of California. So I know the Lawrence, livable. That's different institutions Lawrence, Berkeley, laboratory, which is basically Buckley lab at the university of California. He has quoted that if the Milky Way galaxy Maine's had been in the center of the Bhatti's void, we wouldn't have known there were any other galaxies until the nineteen sixties so lovely quote, what is telling that is really. Yeah. Yeah. We wouldn't have been also say any of those because I'll tell this coach who are not powerful enough. We would have really thought we were very much alone in the US. I imagine what that's right. But of course, we're not where with were wearing a part of the universe where the distribution of galaxies is pretty knowable. I'll bet in the Baltics void it's not brain. Okay. They watch us and hopefully that solves your dilemma in understanding the board as void. We will move on to a question from Sara, Sara Pereira. Hi, sarah. I think he's send us questions before, once or twice. Hi, Andrew and professor Watson as always immensely, enjoying your podcast in the wake of the black hole announcement. I have a niggling question for you. A black hole is fierce surrounded by fee of vent horizon. When we look at it, we should only see a broad sphere. So why was the photo that is has been published? Why does the photo show a black void in the middle? We are not looking at a cross section. It's a great question kind of goes to the heart of our understanding of. What a black hole might look like. So actually a black hole. Isn't this fear? It's a point. That's what defines a black hole, a single point in the universe, where the entities infinite, which is immediately mind boggling, but we can move on from that. Because the bit that you can, I think that you head around is the event horizon, which is the, the sphere that surrounds, a black coal, and that's the sort of point of no return for, for light trying to leave the black hole or going into it. It's where light cannot cross because the gravitation of the black hole a so strong. So what you might expect to see if you could see a black coal will be basically the event, horizon, which would look completely dog. So's of silhouetted against the sky and the some depictions of black holes. Do look like that. But in reality, what we've got is, actually the event horizon around which swelling, the disc of agitated material, which is basically being sucked into the black hole is what we call the Chretien this gas. But bits chewed up stars and probably few planets, and things of that. So all willing into the center of the black coal bags. Now would be plastic bags in it, definitely. Yeah. I know in fact, I think they probably immune from spaghetti. Fixation. That's right. Anyway, the b they will they will be sucky, lighting very rapidly rounded round event. Terrorizing a naturally. That's what makes a black hole. Luminous the fact that you've got a swelling disc of material rounded, which is a banging into each other of stuff, exciting, it, too high temperatures not makes it emit x rays radio radiation, as well. So in the radio region of the spectrum, which is actually where that photograph came from exciting by radio telescopes what you'd expect to save this black thing with the big swelling disc grounded of, of the of, of the of the material circulating around it now. That's not what you say the reason for that is because of the intense gravitational field of the black hole. So, in fact, what you see is a curious kind of silhouette of the event horizon is caused by. The fact that the only light that you say or in this case radio radiation is stuff, that is only Justice gaping sucked into the black hole. So it skirting right around the edge of the black hole an effectively, what you get is the shadow of the black hole against this, this light. That's just escaped being, you know, being sucked in and it's come the lies come from the accretion this. And so that's why that's curious image was big. It looks exactly. I thought I think you might be new described it as looking like a cream Dona as exactly what it looks like just a hole in the middle of stuff. And the whole is not the event itself is the sort of the shadow of the silhouette of the event terrorize in on this material because of the fact that what you're saying is light is only just escaping, something so he's heading directly toward you. So that shadow is actually rather bigger than the Venter is, in fact, if I remember the figure, right. Two point six times the damage of the event to rise. So it's sort of a magnified shadow, and he comes about because of this curious geometry, you've got such an intense gravitational field, that are knowable ideas of geometry, where the hold something up than silhouettes walls behind it, not if that works. It's all very, very different stuff. But you have to trust me that what we get from seeing it from any direction is this curious silhouettes effect caused by the radiation, only just having escaped the clutches of the black hole. So notice fee. It it is it is fear, but it's a black sphere. And the only reason you saying is because there's a lot of lights around it. You see the shadow of this fear okay needed to clarify that just for my Brian. Yeah. I mean, a black hole sounds very much like a kitchen sink to me, it's just everything swells around and you just you don't know what's down. They. Quite, so except for the plastic bags you'll never go. Anyway, okay Sarah, thought hope that answers your question. Demystify mystifies a little bit more the mystery of a black hole. That's where we're going to have to conclude this week's episode of space nuts. We're doing a bit of cramming over the next few episodes, because of various things grandchildren notwithstanding. Thank you. Fred has always though it's been great fun, fun to Tokyo. Two hundred. What's a surprise? Next week you catch next time. Or I'll talk to you in a few minutes, depending on which comes first and don't forget to check out patriarch dot com slash space nuts. If you'd like to be a patron of the show, and that Instagram username for us is by its h q be IT. Zid H Q that name on Instagram bites dot com is the parent organization of podcast company. So, but h q bites with Zid on the not know why. But maybe bought was already taken. But there is enough. Jib jabbering. I will talk to you again. Very, very soon on another addition of spice nuts. To the spice nuts podcast. 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