Episode 120: When Galaxies Collide, with Gurtina Besla

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Feature Guest: Gurtina Besla

The 14th annual Expanding Canada’s Frontiers symposium was hosted on January 27th, 2017 by the Astronomy and Space Exploration Society, a student group based at the University of Toronto. This year’s unique theme was “What Ifs: Is the Impossible, Possible?”!

And now in a special three episode series, we’re joined here at The Star Spot by the event’s keynote speakers as we explore three provocative questions at the cutting edge of astronomy.

First up, on today’s episode Dr. Gurtina Besla asks, what if humans are around to witness the awesome collision of the Milky Way with the Andromeda Galaxy? What would that look like and how would it affect life on Earth?


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Current in Space

We always knew life on Earth started soon into the planet’s history, but scientists have just set the clock back, and Anuj tells us how unbelievably far back. Then Tony explains how Breakthrough Starshot would design a starship that could travel between stars within a single generation. And while you may have heard about that new exoplanet system with 3 planets in the habitable zone, Dave tells us you won’t believe what the sky would look like from the surface!

About Our Guest

Dr. Gurtina Besla is Assistant Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona and Principal Investigator of the outreach project TIMESTEP. She is part of a number of collaborations, including TiNy Titans, which aims to quantify the role of dwarf interactions and mergers as drivers of galaxy evolution at the low mass end, and also SMASH, which is studying the Magellanic clouds, our Milky Way Galaxy’s largest satellite galaxies. Dr. Besla received her PhD from Harvard University.


Magellanic clouds ‘just visiting’ (ABC News)

Our Galaxy to Collide With Andromeda in 4 Billion Years (Sci News)

Gurtina Besla’s Website

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