NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Telescope’s image of Eta Carinae, with processing and license by Judy Schmidt.
NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Telescope’s image of Eta Carinae, with processing and license by Judy Schmidt.

Cosmic Queries – Between Planets and Stars, with Jackie Faherty

Eta Carinae. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble; Processing & License: Judy Schmidt.
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NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Telescope’s image of Eta Carinae, with processing and license by Judy Schmidt.

About This Episode

On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson is exploring the worlds found in the space between stars. These spaces are known to be home to some of the most fascinating celestial objects in the universe – brown dwarfs. Neil is joined by comic co-host Chuck Nice and astrophysicist and brown dwarf expert Jackie Faherty, PhD, to help answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries about brown dwarfs and a lot more.

What is a brown dwarf? If you don’t know, don’t worry. Jackie gets us up to speed on what they are, how they work, and how they’re formed. Do brown dwarfs have surfaces? You’ll learn that and a lot more about their structure. Find out why brown dwarfs are at the center of one of the biggest discussions in modern astronomy. You’ll hear how the tools used to study brown dwarfs can also be used to study exoplanets. 

Jackie tells us about her favorite star system, Eta Carinae. Is the Sun the biggest star in our galaxy? You’ll find out. We ponder the Planet 9 hypothesis and whether Jupiter is a “failed star.” We also discuss HR 8799 – which Jackie describes as the “Brad Pitt of Planetary Systems” – and explore how stars interact with each other. 

Learn more about ʻOumuamua, the interstellar object that passed through our solar system not long ago. You’ll find out if interacting with our solar system altered its path through the universe. We also try and put a number on how many stars are in the universe. Jackie comes up with a great tagline to describe what astronomers do for a living. Lastly, our trio tackle the pseudoscience of zodiac signs. All that, plus, we investigate the Nemesis star hypothesis and what it means for the past, present, and future safety of Earth. 

Thanks to this week’s Patrons for supporting us: Scott Peterson, Kody Krier, Anette Woolsey, Joe Aguirre, Daniel Hargrove, Jill Burkey.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons and All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

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