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The Galaxy's Most Peculiar Flickering Star

The Galaxy's most peculiar flickering star. Also, Jupiter’s Red Spot, Blue Zones and nanobionics make plants glow in the dark

KIC 8462852 is otherwise an average star, about a 1,000 light years away in the constellation Cygnus. It is about 50 percent bigger and 1,000 degrees hotter than the Sun, which is not particularly peculiar. What is very peculiar is that it flickers and dims in a way that has never been observed in any star so far. This led to some intense debate amongst the astrophysics community, and the press, including the possibility that the dimming was being caused by some sort of alien megastructure – A ‘Dyson Sphere’, set up to harness the power of the star. New work sheds some light of this very strange star (spoiler alert, it’s never aliens!)

Red Spot of Jupiter
The red spot visible on the surface of Jupiter is a giant storm that’s lasted over 150 years, to our knowledge. Now new results from NASA’s Juno mission shows that the storm extends deep inside the planet and is shrinking and dying out.

Blue Zones
Villagrande in Sardinia is a “Blue Zone”. A Blue Zone is a ‘longevity hotspot’. A region with a much higher proportion than average of people over 100. Sardinia is not the only place where larger percentage of people get to celebrate their 100th birthday. Also Greece, Japan and Costa Rica, all have Blue Zones. Now you would expect such zones to be a perfect opportunity for scientists to try and find out the secret to a long life. But how easy would it be?

Plant Nanobionics
Plants may not be the obvious starting point for new technology, but in fact they offer many advantages that our electronics do not. A team from MIT have created a glowing plant using nanoparticles that can enter previously impenetrable parts of the plant cell. Their work is part of a new field called plant nanobionics and is paving the way for plants that can light up highways.

Picture: Tabby's Star (Illustration), Credit: NASA

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Fiona Roberts

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27 minutes

Last on

Mon 8 Jan 2018 03:32GMT


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Gravitational Waves

Gravitational Waves

Gravity and ripples in the fabric of space time - what do these mean for us?