Episode 6: Galactic Neighbourhoods

with Prof Eric Wilcots and Sinenhlanhla Precious Sikhosana

In this episode, we speak with Prof Eric Wilcots and Sinenhlanhla Precious Sikhosana about galaxies and the environments they live in.

We discuss how and where galaxies form, and how they interact with other galaxies, and what effect that has on how these galaxies continue to evolve.

We also chat about how astronomers observe clusters of galaxies and the exciting science that will be coming out of the MeerKAT Telescope.

This image, based on observations made with South Africa’s MeerKAT radio telescope, shows the clearest view yet of the central regions of our galaxy. Credit: SARAO/MeerKAT

This week’s guests:

Featured Image:
Stephan’s Quintet is a visual grouping of five galaxies of which four form the first compact galaxy group ever discovered. Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

Episode Links:
SALT: https://www.salt.ac.za/
MeerKAT: https://www.ska.ac.za/gallery/meerkat/
VLA: https://science.nrao.edu/facilities/vla

Episode 4: Black holes and Radio Jets

with Dr Imogen Whittam and Lerato Sebokolodi

Episode 4 features Dr Imogen Whittam, a SARAO Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of the Western Cape and Lerato Sebokolodi a PhD student, based at SARAO and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in the USA.

Imogen talks about her work on Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN), stemming from the super-massive black holes that reside at the centre of most galaxies and how we learn how these massive beasts work.

Lerato chats about one AGN in particular, the famous Cygnus A and her work on the magnetic fields that drive the formation of the beautiful jets pictured below.

An image taken at radio wavelengths of the dramatic jets of charged particles being ejected from the nucleus of the galaxy Cygnus A. Image credit: NRAO/AU.

Episode Links:
SARAO: https://www.ska.ac.za/about/sarao/
UWC: http://astro.uwc.ac.za/
NRAO: https://public.nrao.edu/
MeerKAT: https://www.ska.ac.za/science-engineering/meerkat/about-meerkat/
JVLA: https://science.nrao.edu/facilities/vla

This week’s guests:

Episode 3: SETI with MeerKAT

with Dr Griffin Foster

In this episode Dr Griffin Foster describes the planned hunt for extraterrestrial intelligence with South Africa’s MeerKAT telescope!

Griffin is from the University of Oxford and is the project scientist for Breakthrough Listen – a program to hunt for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence using radio telescopes.

Griffin explains, in a surprisingly down-to-earth and practical way, why we might expect intelligent extraterrestrial lifeforms to exist elsewhere in the Universe, how they might be trying to communicate and how we might search for these signals.

Griffin and the Breakthrough Listen team plan to conduct part of their search with the new MeerKAT radio telescope. MeerKAT is one of the world’s most advanced radio telescopes and is located in the Karoo in South Africa.

Episode Links:

BL@MeerKAT announcement: https://breakthroughinitiatives.org/news/23

Berkeley SETI Research Center: http://seti.berkeley.edu/

This week’s guest: