The only Earth

This is the English adaptation of the article I published in Diario Córdoba newsletter last Sunday, 15th December 2019, which I have also compiled in my personal blog in the Naukas science communication network. It has some references to the situation of the light pollution in Spain but unfortunately this also applies to the majority of the countries of the developed world.

A couple of weeks ago my six-year-old son had to make his first speech in front of his classmates. It is a very common practice in Australia and in other English countries: from a very young age students are encouraged to briefly and concisely discuss their thoughts regarding a particular topic in public. My son chose the topic “how can we care about the environment?”, that we developed together (obviously, you can’t ask to a six-year-old child to do something like this on his own the very first time). He rehearsed during days. In his speech my son wanted to emphasize “the 3 Rs“: “reduce, reuse and recycle.” It was evident that at some point during the course they had talked about it in class, and certainly sometimes during this year he had returned from school asking for “containers and cartons to reuse them in toys or ornaments”. Ecological and environmental awareness does exist in our society, and it is indeed encouraging to see young people very committed to that. But is it enough?

Brainstorming session compiling key topics to prepare my child’s speech “What can we do to take care of the environment?”

The environmental issues are widely complex and touch on social, economic, political, scientific and even religious aspects. The World Climate Summit that has been held in Madrid these weeks demonstrates the complicated interrelationship of interests that exist when we try to really take care of our planet. Many people think that they are doing something useful but at the end of the day these are just patches to clear their conscience about their lack of actions to attack the real problem. Now, during Christmas, we all live another example of these contradictions.

Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. As a child I waited excitedly for the gifts of the Three Wise Kings on January 6th (that is the real moment kids get their Christmas presents in Spain, as the tradition is that they are brought by the Three Wise Kings, we imported Papá Noel – Santa Clauss just recently). This day was always a great party in our house, with lots of papers and boxes to be unwrapped. Despite living now in another continent, with a slightly different culture, I try to maintain this tradition and the illusion of Christmas for my son, like so many people sure does around the world. But this year the confluence of many factors (the World Climate Summit, the rise of climate change deniers, the disastrous fires that are plaguing Australia and making Sydney the most polluted city in the world on Tuesday Dec 10th, my outrage at others environmental factors that are not taken seriously, and my son’s speech) have made me rethink everything. How much garbage do we generate in a few days? Where is this consumer society taking us?

As I couldn’t travel to Spain in 2019 I bought online several books and notebooks in Spanish for Christmas. I placed the entire order together but each book or notebook (the three packages at the bottom are thin homework notebooks in Spanish for my son, all of the same course) has come in an individual cardboard box and with a lot of extra, unwanted advertising and papers inside ? How much extra crap are we generating? By the way, 3 more packages that had not yet arrived are missing in the photo.

Indeed, Christmas has become a time of waste. You have to buy more and more things, frantically decorating houses and cities, attending large banquets (business, family, friends) in a few days. What used to be a short period of one or two weeks has now extended over two months. The shopping centers are decorated before Halloween. And the “Black Friday” is now a common practice worldwide, with people buying plenty of things online that they don’t need (and that will delivered to their homes by workers who usually are in precarious working conditions, in a cardboard box that includes plenty of unwanted publicity and other papers). Here it is the first “R” my son pointed out: we must reduce the huge amount of waste that we create.

Of course, for years now many scientists including me have been pointing out that there is an increasing huge waste of resources (of money) in Christmas lighting. Light pollution is growing  and, sponsored by the rise of LEDs, more and more Christmas lights are installed every year in our cities. I am the first one to enjoy a beautiful holiday lighting and I know that it attracts people to the streets for Christmas shopping, but aren’t they too much now? 

During the last months we have seen some politicians of Spanish major cities boasting about “my Christmas lighting is the best”. The facilities began to be installed in September, with millions of LEDs everywhere. It has been estimated that about 10% of the annual electricity bill of a large city in Spain is going into Christmas lighting. Apart from the most correct use that money could be given, this means a great contribution of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. And it is more: the scientific studies are demonstrating that LEDs (which are replacing the low-pressure sodium lights, the most energy efficient and the least polluting of lights) are substantially impacting the fauna, flora and ourselves. An increasing of cancers are being detected in places with excessive lighting. Blue light (the dominant one in most LEDs that are being installed in cities around the world) inhibits the creation of melatonin, which is the hormone that controls our sleep and circadian rhythm. Light pollution is another major environmental problem, perhaps not publicly known as other types of pollution, but that must be taken into account and mitigated with appropriate laws and regulations. On this point it is interesting to note that the Spanish Network of Studies of Light Pollution has requested this month the total paralysis and reconstruction of the Royal Decree in which the Regulation of energy efficiency of outdoor lighting installations is approved, as it contains fundamental errors and the complete absence of scientific criteria in its elaboration.

Protesters in Madrid during the UN Climate Summit COP 25, on Friday, December 6, 2019, with the contrast of the exaggerated lighting of Madrid’s buildings, even more for Christmas. I have not found the credit of the image, a thousand apologies to the author, although I asked on Twitter and tried.

As a scientist I don’t believe in climate change. I don’t believe in it because the verb to believe means “to have something for sure without knowing it directly or without it being proven or proven” (definition of the “Real Academia Española”, the “Royal Spanish Academy”). As a scientist who has read and contrasted the observations and studies that have been done on the effect of the emission of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere by burning fossil fuels in human activities during the past 200 years, I do have the absolute knowledge that climate change is real. Scientists have been warning the society for decades, and we have clearly known that global warming is not due to external factors, such as changing the brightness of the Sun, the Earth’s orbit, or even the movement of the Sun around the Milky Way. Global warming and its consequences, climate change, is undoubtedly the product of human activity.

Comparison of solar irradiance on the Earth (yellow) with the average temperature of the planet (in red) since 1880. The thick lines show the average in periods of 11 years. Variations (maximum 0.15%) of the total irradiance of the Sun on Earth show the small oscillations of 11 years due to the solar cycle. The change in the brightness of the Sun does not explain the increase of around 1 degree Celsius of the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere from the beginning of the 20th Century to the present. Credit: NASA.

Our society is not environmentally sustainable. Crossed interests and our own daily habits make extremely difficult to solve the environmental problems. Maybe first we all have to become aware of them. During the World Climate Summit in Madrid the last weeks some absurd things have been proposed (such as removing the emoji of plastic bottles of non-reusable cups with plastic straws), interesting ideas have been discussed (such as green bus stops, investigations of bacteria that consume carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas, or ecological bags) and very contradictory images have been seen (such as the large mass demonstration of young people with banners for a green and sustainable world in a Madrid absolutely overflowed with lights, and not just Christmas lights).

But the only way to really deal with the problem is to change our energy model. We must really invest in renewable energy (especially solar) and also in nuclear energy (which has been scientifically proven safe) and ban coal, gas, petrol and oil. Some politicians and governments (Germany, New Zealand) are taking the problem of climate change seriously and are proposing good measures. Other countries like Spain are there there. And some countries including the United States and Australia try to ignore it.

We are not going to destroy the Earth. Climate change affects us as a global civilization, but not the planet itself. Certainly, we are killing the Earth’s enormous biodiversity, but we, the human beings, will be the most affected because of climate change, with hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of people who will have to escape from their homes, becoming refugees elsewhere. Wars will happen, water will be a luxury product, and our descendants will look at us without believing that we had in our hands to stop this madness and we did nothing to stop it. 

There are many important problems in the world, and many others local problems that seem to be important but they may not be. But, with total certainty, the most important challenge that Humanity is currently facing is stopping, and I’m not saying inverting, global warming. Only the combination of the personal effort of every citizen by changing our exaggerated consumption habits and the institutional effort strongly promoting a change in the energy model of our societies can achieve this.

The Earth seen by Apollo 17 in the last crewed mission to the Moon. The photo was taken 5 hours after takeoff, on December 7, 1972. This image is known as “The Blue Marble” (Credit: NASA / Apollo 17).

I conclude with the same reflections that my six-year-old son left at the end of his speech. “No other planet in the Solar System, not even Mars, and none of the more than 4000 planets that astronomers have discovered around other stars are like Earth. We have to take care of our home world. It is the only Earth we will ever know.

The threat of Starlink

This is the English adaptation of the article I published in the Spanish science communication website yesterday, Tuesday 4th June 2019, which was an extended version of the article I wrote for my weekly section “Zoco de Astronomía” in Diario Córdoba last Sunday, 2nd June 2019.

If the light reflected by satellites is not limited, the new “satellite constellations” such as Starlink may not only be a problem for the scientific observations of professional astrophysicists and amateur astronomers but they will also induce a loss for our society, as we could have more satellites than stars visible to the naked eye anywhere in the world during several hours during the night.

For generations and generations we human beings have looked to the heavens and left in them our illusions, hopes, aspirations, goals, even searched for our own origins. The contemplation of a completely starry sky awakens all kinds of feelings in the human being, has defined us as people, as cultures and as societies. Being under a sky full of stars on a moonless night is really one of nature’s greatest spectacles we can enjoy. An unique show that, little by little, we are losing.

First it was the light pollution. As cities grew and technology was able to produce electricity cheaply, we began to shine irresponsibly. It is incredible how little aware we are of the problem of light pollution: billions of euros are lost every year around the world illuminating the sky, something that has as ominous consequences the impact on the environment and human health, in addition to erasing at a stroke until 95% of all the stars we could see in the sky. This generation, the one that is growing now, is the first one in all history that has not been able to enjoy a dark starry sky. Sadly, in many large cities of the civilized world children believe that the true color of the night is orange (or blue, after the introduction of the terrible lighting using LEDs).

These days we are starting to be aware of a new threat to enjoy the starry sky. This thread is global, and not local as the light pollution is. After all one “can  escape” from the light pollution, even for a few days, taking refuge in dark places in the middle of the countryside, on the tops of mountains, in the middle of the ocean, on deserted islands or in the middle of the desert. But we could not escape this new threat if it materializes.

On Thursday, May 23, 2019, the US private space company SpaceX , led by the famous Elon Musk , launched a group of 60 satellites in low Earth orbit . This group of satellites is the first of a super satellite complex (also referred to as a “constellation“) known as Starlink . In the next few years, SpaceX has planned many more launches of these individual satellites, perhaps even surpassing 12,000 units in a decade. The goal of Starlink is to get internet service to everyone at a low cost. But these satellites, which have solar panels and metal surfaces, are visible to the naked eye. Since the launch of these 60 Starlink satellites have been seen by hundreds of thousands of people. These sightings have unleashed the controversy: the satellites are much brighter than expected.

(a) Coverage of the Starlink constellation. (b) Starlink satellites. (c) Starlink satellites prior to being released by the second stage of Falcon 9. (d) Image of the group of galaxies NGC 5353 with the diagonal traces of the Starlink satellite group crossing the field of view, as observed on Saturday 25 of May. Credits: (a) Mark Handley, (b, c) Space X (d) Victoria Girgis, Lowell Observatory.

How bright? It depends on the specific moment, but on some occasions they can equal the brightness of the brightest stars, with flashes that exceed the brightness of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. There are internet pages and apps that let you know what artificial satellites can be seen from a particular place on a particular night. Searching for the passage of the International Space Station (ISS) is quite common, for example, and usually like everyone. But the problem here is that there would be 12,000 satellites up there: although the space around the Earth is large, it is not so large, and there will always be tens or hundreds of satellites visible at a particular moment of the night. So much that the worst estimations indicate that there might be more satellites moving through the sky than fixed stars that we can see with the naked eye in urban areas.

Some astronomers have tried to make calculations to account for the problem. For example, the Dutch astrophysicist Cees Bassa accounted for only 1,600 satellites (the first phase of the Starlink constellation), estimating that in places with latitudes equal to that of London (52 degrees north) there would always be 84 satellites visible at any time, of which 15 would be easily visible, especially in the summer months when the sun does not fall much over the horizon. The visibility of satellites is worse in the hours close to sunset or sunrise. With 12 thousand satellites he estimated that between 70 and 100 satellites would be visible from any point of the sky for much of the night. Of course, the exact brightness of these satellites once they are in their final orbit is still unknown, but right now it is feared that many of them can be really as bright as the stars that are seen from places with high light pollution.

Graph showing the number of Starlink satellites visible in latitudes of 52º (London). It assumes 7500 satellites at 340 km altitude, with 75 orbital planes, each with 100 satellites. Only satellites that have a height greater than 30º above the horizon are included. The horizontal axis collects the time of day and the vertical axis the day of the year. The green and red stripes show the sunrise and sunset, respectively. The color yellow corresponds to 40 satellites, the color black to 0 satellites. Following this figure there would be an average of 40 satellites illuminated at any time in the hours around twilight, and all night in the months near the summer solstice (June and July). Credit: Cees Bassa.

Amateur astronomers are screaming blue murder. And many professional astrophysicists too. Some have had curious interactions with Elon Musk, who in this case does not seem to be setting a good example because he has helped spread bad information. For example, in a tweet he said that “the ISS looks very bright because they turn on the lights“, something that is completely false because it simply reflects the light of the Sun, just as Starlink’s satellites do.

In addition to the loss of the starry sky to the general public, the large increase in artificial satellites in low Earth orbit is a huge problem no longer to amateur astronomers (they are used to occasionally have “traces” of artificial satellites in their photos, but this is corrected by obtaining many photos and averaging when stacking) but to professional astrophysicists. Astrophysical images are often “deep ” (exposures of many minutes, sometimes an hour) but few (2 – 5 images per target), so the “clean” data would be much more complicated. And to this we have to add that the many calibration images (for example, “flatfields“), that are fundamental for the correct scientific use of the data, would also be affected, and it is necessary to invest more time than is currently used in these shots. calibration to make sure they are valid.

In the coming years new telescopic installations will be inaugurated. Some of them are costing a lot of money and are thought to take images in very large fields of the sky. For example, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will be capable of mapping the entire sky in only 3 nights. Nonetheless, this early morning LSST has issued a statement notifying that, after a preliminary study, the impact of the satellites of the Starlink constellation would be very small for LSST. That is because the algorithm that combines individual frames (3 of them) into a final scientific image should be able to eliminate the satellite traces.

But it is not only the large telescopes: there are dozens of “modest” professional telescopes (say, between half a meter and 4 meters in size) that perform fundamental scientific work, for example, the hunting of asteroids and comets or the search for supernovas. All these scientific observations would also be affected by satellite traces.

Another problem added: the radio-interference that the satellites would cause in radio telescopes . This is something well known by professionals and difficult to quantify until the satellites are actually there. One of the most ambitious international projects is precisely the SKASquare Kilometer Array“, a network with thousands of radio telescopes that will be installed between South Africa and Australia. If constellations of satellites like Starlink are not careful in limiting the frequencies in which they emit and receive they could greatly limit the huge investment in technical and human capital that is being used in SKA. Several professional radio astronomy organizations, including the NRAO ( National Radio Astronomy Observatory, USA ), have issued statements insisting that SpaceX has been in contact with them to minimize the impact of radio interference on scientific observation, delimiting “exclusion zones“. These are frequency ranges that should not be used in satellites, to minimize the impact on astrophysical tasks from the ground. But this does not have to be the case in constellations of satellites launched by other companies or other countries.

Here we also have to insist on something else: we do not need to go into space for doing astronomy (as indeed Elon Musk himself suggested): many of these installations (telescopes of class 30 meters and radio interferometers such as the SKA) are only possible on Earth, at least with the current means and budgets. In addition, satellites in low orbit also interfere with the work of space telescopes such as the HST ( Hubble Space Telescope )! It is not common yet, but it is detected in some shots of the HST the passage of artificial satellites as “defocused strokes” .

Early this week, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) issued a statement precisely warning of this problem, notifying that “we still do not understand well the impact of thousands of these satellites visible throughout the night sky and, despite their good intentions, these constellations of satellites can threaten [astronomical observations in optical and radio] In the same statement, the IAU asks all the companies involved and legislators to work together with the astronomical community to understand the real impact that satellite constellations may have and thus eliminate or at least mitigate their impact on scientific work and exploration. space.

Indeed, many of us do not expect to suspend these space projects, but we hope that satellite companies take this problem into account, in order to minimize the reflectivity of the satellites and the frequencies in which they operate, and to legislate correctly so that this actually happens. It is no longer just SpaceX: several international companies want to launch their own satellite constellations in the near future, reaching more than 50,000 in just a couple of decades.

In 20 years or so, the children of our world will might see the sky as an orange glow where hundreds of bright spots are continuously moving, losing forever the real beauty of the night sky. And they will not be able to escape from this pollution: it does not matter where you are on Earth, far or near cities, if you’re lost in a desert, in the middle of the ocean or in an astronomical observatory:  there could be dozens or hundreds of satellites moving through the sky almost at any moment. Goodbye to the romanticism of Astronomy and identifying the constellations in the sky. Goodbye to a society and young people marveling at the beauty of a dark sky full of stars. They might get the best internet connection, but they will be losing what once it made us dream with the stars.


Twitter helping in a busy week

You might or might not know that I’ve been trying to be very active in my favorite social media network, Twitter, for the last years. I joined Twitter in 2011 just to promote my Spanish blog “El Lobo Rayado“, that is why my username still is @El_Lobo_Rayado (*)

In some way, micro-posting in Twitter has had a huge impact on the way I do science communication. For example, I used to write long posts in my Spanish blog explaining or discussing astronomy news, but now I do that in Twitter, and almost everything in English. Twitter drastically changed my presence in the web, also helping me to promote science communication events, and at the same time contacting very interesting people.

Social media and science communication have evolved A LOT between 2011 and 2019, that’s for sure.

Twitter has been increasingly popular for researchers, astronomers in particular, and a bit of “networking” is also done there. Conferences usually have a hashtag to follow, sometimes even a full twitter account, and that has been my way of capturing and summarizing the talks, sometimes providing comments or discussions to the topics that were discussed. And even, I must confess, writing Twitter posts including some photos of the talk is now the way I’m taking notes during the Conference.

I’m doing that using threads, that is, connecting all my tweets one after the other. Some people of Twitter use threads to tell a story as if it was a post in a conventional blog… but breaking the post in many (10-50 or even more) independent tweets. I don’t like that. In my personal opinion, if you want to tell that much, just write a post in a blog and provide the link in a single tweet! But that is my humble opinion, I can understand that other people DO LOVE to write threads (and even they first prepare them in a separate document to know how many tweets are needed and/or schedule the individual tweets seeking the highest impact).

What was missing? Compiling all those tweets in an easy way! If you are familiar to Twitter you know that, after some few days (it depends on how active you are) it is not that easy to find a particular tweet. In the past we had Storify to collect tweets, not necessarily from the same account. It was quite good, although it involved a bit of extra work compiling tweets and sorting them. But Storify was closed a year ago (and with that some of us lost plenty of useful information, as the tens of #AskAAO sessions we used to have in the old “Australian Astronomical Observatory”).

Luckily recently a new tool came into play to help us with that. It is the Thread Reader App, that allows the user to get a full post compiling all the tweets in a thread. How to do it? Easy: just send a tweet to @threadreaderapp at the end of your Twitter thread including the word “unroll“… and magic happens!

And that is what I’ve done today to compile my tweets of Monday and Tuesday… busy as I’m both attending the “ASTRO-3D Science Meeting 2019#A3Dscimeet19 AND helping in the international science communication festival “Pint of Science#PintAU19 #Pint19AU in the evenings…

Here they are the posts with all my tweets during the week:

I have to say… I should be at the #A3Dscimeet19 right now but I had some few “urgent” things to do at the university, and later I got some few emails and… well… here I am in my office writing this.

But I’ll update it later with today’s thread. Done!

(*) I say “still” because I’m seriously considering changing it to a “more English-speakers friendly” username…


The Galaxy and me

The Galaxy and me

The Anglo-Australian Telescope, The Emu in the Sky (The Milky Way), the Southern Cross, Carina Nebula, Large Magellanic Cloud, Jupiter, Saturn… and me! Single 15s shot using a CANON 5D Mark III with a 14mm lens at f2.8, 1600ISO. Photo taken at 1.15am AEST, Saturday 6th April 2019.

Full resolution image in my Flickr.

Credit: Ángel R. López-Sánchez (Australian Astronomical Optics, Macquarie University).

Podcast “Astronomía para Principiantes” in SBS radio Australia in Spanish

Since the beginning of 2016 I collaborate with  SBS Radio Australia en español (SBS Radio Australia in Spanish) with a section about Astronomy. The idea came from the journalist Anna Sagristà who, after interviewing me for the section “Latinos in Australia” (*), invited me to have an informal conversation of ten minutes about some Astronomy facts of interesting news.

That was the birth of “Astronomía para Principiantes” (Astronomy for Beginners), a monthly section on SBS Radio Australia in Spanish, that I also upload as a podcast in iVoox.

It is redundant to say that this podcast is in Spanish, but it is conducted in Australia, and that is why I think it is convenient I talk about it in this blog, as one of the many science communication activities I do in this country.

With the return of Anna to Spain in mid-2016, it is my friend the journalist Rocío Otoya who has been conducting the section.

Astronomy for Beginners is usually released on the last Sunday of every month.
The most recent episode (number 31) was aired on Sunday, 31st March 2019 and it was dedicated to the Milky Way and its “weight”. However, on my iVoox channel I have uploaded so far only to Episode 23 (ApP23: The Blue Blood Supermoon, January 28, 2018). I’ll be uploading the rest of episodes during the next weeks.

Besides publicizing this science communication podcast in Australia, I’m compiling here the list with all the episodes of “Astronomía para Principiantes” that are published in iVoox:

I added one of the “special episodes” on the first detection of gravitational waves, I should upload the other two that we recorded (one on “Estrella Cervantes” and the aforementioned interview on the SBS section “Latinos in Australia”).

I will update this entry when I publish new episodes.

I hope you like it! Some English-speakers have told me they use it for practicing their Spanish, which is always a good thing!

(*) I am not responsible for the title given to this interview …

Visiting the Macarthur Astronomical Society

Yesterday I was visiting my friends at the Macarthur Astronomical Society (MAS), which is based in Campbelltown, at the south of Sydney. I have had the privilege of visiting them several times in the last years, where I talked about different aspects of Astronomy, from the “Light of the Universe” to the “Colour of the galaxies” till “Amateur Spectroscopy“.

This time I was presenting my very own research, the Hi-KIDS project (the “HI KOALA IFS Dwarf galaxy Survey“, that I have to eventually publicize here too.

My talk was entitled “Dissecting Dwarf Galaxies with The AAT“. The abstract  was:

Dwarf galaxies provide fundamental clues about galaxy origin and evolution. Many of them have irregular shapes and have processed little their gas, although they possess many old stars born billions of years ago. Still, many dwarf galaxies are very gas-rich and are currently forming stars, sometimes in a spectacular way. With these new observations using the powerful KOALA+AAOmega instruments at the 3.9m Anglo-Australian Telescope we are “dissecting” these dwarf galaxies to characterize the properties of the gas and the stars within them. Combining these new data with deep radio observations at 21 cm of the diffuse, cold gas within and surrounding these dwarf galaxies we will get a better understanding of the local and global star-formation processes in galaxies, the feedback of the newborn stars into the galaxies, the importance of inflows and outflows of gas, and the chemical evolution of nearby dwarf galaxies.

You can find some photos of the talk in the Facebook webpage of the Macarthur Astronomical Society.

I have to say that this is a very welcome audience and that I have always enjoyed a lot the visit to MAS. They have an invited speaker almost every month, getting many Australian (and overseas) astrophysicists to talk to them. You can have a look to the full list in the MAS webpage.

Thanks for having me and see you in another astronomy event or talk soon!

Intriguing Wolf-Rayet star discovered

A new, very intriguing Wolf-Rayet star has been discovered in the Milky Way. Actually it is a massive triple star system. It has been nicknamed Apep after an ancient Egyptian deity, this may be the first ever gamma-ray burst progenitor found.

The research has been mainly conducted at the University of Sydney using data from the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) and ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The announcement was made public yesterday in several media releases by the European Southern Observatory and the University of Sydney, following the publication of the research paper in Nature Astronomy.

Image of Apep captured in the thermal infrared with the VISIR camera on the European Southern Observatory’s VLT telescope in Chile. Credit: Professor Peter Tuthill/ESO.

Earlier this week I was contacted from a journalist from The Age, Liam Mannix, who wanted to talk to me as “expert of Wolf-Rayet stars who has not participated in this research”. He called me and I spent 20 minutes to half an hour explaining what Wolf-Rayet stars are, the few of these stars known in our Galaxy (~600s) as they are the descendant of the most massive stars (and these are quite rare), and more. Of course, this conversation was latter summarized in a line in the article that he prepared:

Systems like this are very, very rare,” says Angel Lopez-Sanchez, an astrophysicist at Macquarie University who studies Wolf-Rayets and was not involved in the research. “It is a very exciting finding.”

But in any case I’m very happy I had this conversation with Liam and that I could contribute at least to the dissemination of this nice work.