Category: Discussion

Exocast-63b: How do planets form?

Hugh, Hannah & Andrew turn their attention to a simple question with a very complicated answer: our favourite! This month we are pondering how planets form. What do we know about planet formation from the Earth, observations from our Solar System, and of distant exoplanetary systems? Where are the gaps in our understanding of the processes involved? Do the theories and models of planet formation hold up to observational scrutiny? We might not be able

Exocast-61 b: Observation vs Theory, which is more important?

Hugh, Hannah & Andrew pick sides to debate astronomy’s deepest divide. Are you with Hugh on the side of the observers, who insist that it is only with new telescopes, instruments and data that we can reveal physical properties of exoplanets and develop our understanding of the universe. Or are you, like Andrew, on the side of the theorists, who ensure that we can deeply understand the physical properties of exoplanets by doing experiments and

Exocast-59b: What are planetary atmospheres made of?

This month Hugh, Hannah, and Andrew go back to basics to discuss the diversity and complexity inherent in the study of planetary atmospheres. Exocast-59b touches on how we define an atmosphere and takes a sojourn through the varied and beautiful atmospheres of the Solar System, as well as a journey back through time to consider the long evolution of the atmosphere of our planet. How does an atmosphere form and change over time, cling to

Exocast-57b: How big can an exoplanet be?

This month Hugh, Hannah and Andrew discuss a deceptively simple question about the limits of planetary size… Exocast-57b takes you from measurements of exoplanet radius and mass, the difficulty with the IAU definition of planets, to the formation of brown dwarfs and stars. They even dive into the importance of size on habitability, the size limits of a rocky world compared to a gaseous world, some of the stand out candidates for the “biggest” exoplanet,

Exocast-54b: Observing Exoplanets from the Ground

In this episode the exocast team discuss how we observe exoplanets from the ground, how different it is from space, where we put the telescopes and why. The team start by sharing their journeys to telescopes around the world to make observations, and discuss the different bands in the atmosphere that we observe in. The main difference between ground- and space-based observatories is their size, the instruments on some of the ground-based observatories are room

Exocast-52b: Why is Venus important for exoplanets?

In this episode the Exocast team discuss Earth’s twin planet, Venus, and its link to exoplanetary science. We start with an overview of the past, present and future of Venusian exploration, from the first Soviet probes to the three newly-selected missions (DAVINCI+, VERITAS and EnVision) which will explore the atmosphere and surface of Venus more thoroughly than ever before. Then we turn to the open questions about Venus – its potential ancient habitability, the lack

Exocast-50b: Why do we study exoplanets?

In this months discussion Hugh, Hannah, and Andrew discuss the question: Why do we study exoplanets? The team take a look at their own personal motivation and how they each came study exoplanets, as well as diving into the technological applications of astronomy, and the philosophy behind the big questions in astronomy. Astronomy has been at the root of huge technological advances, from the X-ray machines at the airport, to the development of computer languages,

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