Naked Astronomy

Naked Astronomy episode

Thu, 24th May 2012

The Dominant Force in the Universe

The Universe in a Pie (c) NASA

When did Dark Energy become the dominant force in the universe?  In this month’s Naked Astronomy, we look back at the history of our expanding universe to find out when gravity lost its grip.  We also examine the global trade in meteorites to explore the tension between scientists and collectors.  Plus, we answer a bumper crop of your questions.

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In this edition of Naked Astronomy


  • Artistic impression of gas accretion on a high redshift galaxy. (c) L. Calcada (ESO)

    01:32 - Losing Gas in Galaxy Evolution

    New research shows how supernovae and active galactic nuclei can flush gas from young galaxies, slowing the rate of star formation...

  • The debris disk around the star Fomalhaut  (c) NASA/Hubble

    05:13 - Fomalhaut's Cometary Debris Disk

    New observations suggest that the huge debris disk around the star Fomalhaut must be made of the left-overs from millions of crushed comets...

  • Artist's conception of a simultaneous transit of three planets before Kepler-11 observed by NASA's Kepler spacecraft on Aug. 26, 2010. (c) NASA / Tim Pyle

    09:11 - Keeping Kepler

    The Kepler mission has been extended to 2016, allowing us to confirm far more possible exoplanets...

  • 12:46 - Could we detect evidence of civilisation on the night side of a transiting planet?

    Hi Chris, Im no scientist, but still imfasinated by space and physics.One of myinterests is exoplanets and the search for extraterestial life and i have a couple of ideas ive never heard mentioned you could give me some thoughts on if you have the time. As an exoplanet pass...

  • 16:30 - How long has Earth been habitable?

    Hi How long has Earth been habitable? Best Regards Robin Freestun Melbourne, Australia

  • Hubble_deep_field_image (c) NASA

    19:27 - When Dark Energy Took Over

    Once upon a time, gravity was the dominant force in the universe, holding everything together. Then Dark Energy came to the fore, and the universe has been expanding at an accellerating rate ever since. A new project, using the precise location of 250,000 galaxies to map the h...

  • 28:07 - Could Dark Matter be interfering with our measurement of G?

    Hello, Naked Scientists... It is said that the Universal Gravitational Constant (abbreviated "G") is probably the most difficult of the fundamental constants in nature to measure, only being known to about 4 significant figures. It is also said that Dark Matter is continual...

  • 32:12 - Is the solar system expanding?

    Hello Chris I am a big fan of your show. I now understand the basic concept (thanks to your show) how the universe is expanding. Not the cause so much as it is space itself expanding. My question is; Even though the Solor System is very small in scale to the universe at la...

  • 34:15 - Are there limits to what we can understand about the universe?

    Hi there, My question for today is this: We have evolved to deal with the environments in which we found ourselves. Are there limits to what we can understand about the universe? Are our brains and minds too limited to understand the real nature of the universe? I ...

  • A Meteorite from the Gibeon meteorite field (c) H. Raab

    37:36 - The International Meteorite Market

    Meteorites are extremely valuable to scientists – we have visited and collected samples of rock from the Moon, but otherwise these lumps of space rock are our only geological samples of bodies outside the Earth. But they’re also highly desirable to collectors, especially those ...

  • 45:16 - How does the sun produce photons?

    How are photons produced when hydrogen atoms collide in the core of sun?

  • 47:17 - Are some galaxies moving so fast as to be invisible?

    Hi guys, Thanks for a great show, I just came across the show a couple of months ago and listen every time since. Since the expansion started in one point with the big bang there must be galaxies that fly away from us in the exact opposite direction of our own galaxy. If th...

  • 49:39 - Could a new big bang happen in the universe?

    I believe that the pocket universe multiverse theory postulates that universes are popping into existence "all the time" - is there any reason why a new big bang should not happen within the known universe ? Andy Ralphs

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