From distant reaches of the cosmos to mysterious realms within our solar system, this series explores our place in a universe that is larger, more varied, and more violent than we ever imagined. Watch stars explode and space-time rip at the seams in stories about the scientific quest to understand the history, composition, limits, and myriad secrets of the universe. New episodes added regularly.
Hurricane Florence offers a glimpse of the rising dangers posed by tropical storms and other major weather systems to American coastal states. Populations in these regions are steadily rising, not just along the beach but inland as well. With ocean temperatures rising, hurricanes and tropical storms can transport vast amounts of rain to these inland communities, causing catastrophic flooding.
Scientists, wielding sensitive new telescopes and "big data" tools, have detected planets around thousands of stars; some Sun-like and some very different from our star. Many newly discovered "exoplanets" lie in "habitable zones," where liquid water may support the chemistry that enables biology. How will astronomers discover if we have company in the cosmos...and where they live?
Over five decades ago, Apollo astronauts brought back to Earth a wide variety of rocks from the Moon. Analysis of these rocks gave rise to a bold new set of ideas describing the origin of the Moon in a violent collision with another planet. Scientists like Robin Canup have recently been testing a range of predictions of this Giant Impact theory using a new generation of powerful supercomputers.
Dr. Robert Stein, professor of Physics and Astronomy at Michigan State Universe, has long envisioned a day when he could use supercomputer programs to "see" through the roiling surface of the sun to its dynamic interior. He is searching for mechanisms that drive the violent outbursts known as coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, known to disrupt the electrical systems that power our civilization.
A startling collision in an ancient galaxy slews Earth's largest telescopes to a spot in the Hydra constellation. Two rapidly spinning neutron stars have violently merged to form a possible black hole. And, for the first time, astronomers see its electromagnetic flash and hear its gravitational thunder as they watch new elements being born.
Astronomers are probing the high-energy cosmic frontier with a series of key missions: Fermi, Swift, Chandra, NuSTAR, and Hubble. Their goal: to find out how the universe works on a fundamental level. This video was inspired by a NASA event at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, where leading scientists delivered the latest news about black holes, supernovae, and gamma ray bursts.
Asteroids racing through the solar system have smashed into Earth before. What are the chances we'll get hit again? Armed with new defensive technologies, scientists are getting ready for the inevitable day, a decade, century, or millennia from now: the Day of the Asteroid.
Explore the biggest question of all. How far do the stars stretch out into space? And what's beyond them? In modern times, we built giant telescopes that have allowed us to cast our gaze deep into the universe. Astronomers have been able to look back to near the time of its birth. They've reconstructed the course of cosmic history in astonishing detail.
Our Milky Way Galaxy is thought to harbor millions of black holes, the ultra dense remnants of dead stars. But now, in the universe far beyond our galaxy, there's evidence of something far more ominous. A breed of black holes that has reached incomprehensible size and destructive power. Just how large, and violent, and strange can they get?
Time is flying by on this busy, crowded planet as life changes from second to second. At the same time, the arc of the human lifespan is getting longer: 67 years is the global average, up from just 20 years in the Stone Age. How much time does the universe have? The answer may depend on whether Stephen Hawking was right in his theory that describes how black holes shed mass and eventually decay.
Two scientists have laid out the basic technical specifications of a black hole powered starship. What vision of the future inspired this strange vehicle? How feasible is it technically? How far could it take humanity one day in the distant future?
They are eruptions so vast, so Earth-shattering, they have changed the history of our planet. Climate collapse. Toxic turmoil. Mass extinction. Worse than a killer asteroid, or nuclear war, they are Earth's most destructive Supervolcanoes.
Explore the challenges of interstellar flight and the technological possibilities that may one day send us on a long voyage out into the galaxy. What imperatives will define the mission when it launches and finally arrives: exploration and science, or a struggle for survival?
It was one of the greatest mysteries in modern science: a series of brief but extremely bright flashes of ultra-high energy light coming from somewhere out in space. These gamma ray bursts were first spotted by spy satellites in the 1960s. It took three decades and a revolution in high-energy astronomy for scientists to figure out what they were.
Why did Earth thrive and our sister planet, Venus, died? From the fires of a sun's birth... twin planets emerged. But in time, their paths diverged. Nature draped one world in the greens and blues of life, while enveloping the other in acid clouds... high heat... and volcanic flows. Why did Venus take such a disastrous turn? What clues have scientists recently picked up about its steady decline.
All across the immense reaches of time and space, energy is being exchanged, transferred, released, in a great cosmic pinball game we call our universe. This episodes traces the progression of energy events from the smallest and coldest, to the hottest and most powerful in all the cosmos.