Tuesday, December 30, 2008

NYT on Constellation's and NASA's future...

The NYT has caught up with the rest of the crowd in producing articles questioning Constellation and NASA's future. In summary it discusses cost, weight and vibration problems with Ares I, some complaints about "a my-way-or-the-highway attitude that stifles dissent and innovation" that supposedely exists at higher levels in the program, and briefly rehashes some of the claimed conflict between the Obama transition team and NASA head honcho Michael Griffin.

Perhaps the most surprising (and scary) aspect of the article to me was that it claims that the Obama transition team also questioned the 5 year gap in US manned space flight capability that will exist between when the Shuttle is retired Old Yeller-style and Ares I would supposedly start flying astronauts. Supposedly the transition team asked question about how much it would cost to narrow this 5 year gap and/or the cost of retaining one or two shuttles in flying order (see pages 1 and 3 of the NYT article).

To me this is more worrying than the claims that the Ares I program is in trouble. Previous coverage of this issue gave the impression that Obama's team was pragmatic and fiscally responsible and wanted to avoid cost overruns and potential white elephant programs. This article gives exactly the opposite impression... scary!

Yet narrowing that 5 year gap by speeding up Constellation development will cost a lot of money. Keeping any shuttles going will cost even more. Where is that money going to come from?

The shuttles have only ever been useful for one thing: Hubble servicing missions. The space station is a 20 billion dollar waste that does nothing. Together the ISS and the Shuttles have squandered vast amounts of money without producing a sustainable manned space program, or indeed may have prevented there from being a sustainable manned space program. Lets ditch the shuttle and the ISS ASAP. So what if there is a 5 or even 10 year gap in launching astronauts into space, if at the end of it you end up with a sustainable space program?

There is also a reasonably interesting slide show of images of a J-2X engine, an Ares upper-stage mock-up and an Orion capsule mock-up (although later slides are mainly artists impressions or unrelated SpaceX stuff) and a multi-slide interactive (flash) graphic of the Constellation program that nicely illustrates the proposed Ares I and Ares V rockets.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Interesting Astrophysics: Yuletide Edition

Season's Greetings! This over-commercialized season of artificially-hyped holidays and forced familial meetings even affects astronomy, as arXiv adopts a holiday schedule for posting new pre-print submissions, and as I took Friday off and hence didn't post this until today.

Despite that there is a decent showing for starburst-related papers this week, and the LMC's few months of assumed freedom are ended by the now more-massive Milky Way. Yay Milky Way!

Galaxies and Starbursts

The magnetic field structure in NGC 253 in presence of a galactic wind
V. Heesen, M. Krause, R. Beck, R. J. Dettmar, arXiv:0812.3673 [pdf, other]
Comments: 6 pages, 5 figures, in the proceedings of the IAU Symposium 259: "Cosmic magnetic fields: from planets, to stars and galaxies", Teneriffe, November 2008, in press

Submillimeter Continuum Properties of Cold Dust in the Inner Disk and Outflows of M82
Lerothodi L. Leeuw, E. Ian Robson, arXiv:0812.3682 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: Accepted by the Astronomical Journal -- 28 pages and 14 figures

HNCO abundances in galaxies: Tracing the evolutionary state of starbursts
Sergio Martin, J. Martin-Pintado, R. Mauersberger, arXiv:0812.3688 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 21 pages, 3 figures, Accepted by ApJ

Near-Infrared Bulge-Disk Correlations of Lenticular Galaxies
Sudhanshu Barway, Yogesh Wadadekar, Ajit K. Kembhavi, Y. D. Mayya, arXiv:0812.4559 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: Accepted for publication in MNRAS; 10 pages, 2 tables and 11 figures

Implications of recent measurements of the Milky Way rotation for the orbit of the Large Magellanic Cloud
Genevieve Shattow and Abraham Loeb, 2008, MNRAS, 392, L21
Full Text: HTML, PDF (Size: 452K

X-rays emission

The solar wind charge-transfer X-ray emission in the 1/4 keV energy range: inferences on Local Bubble hot gas at low Z
D. Koutroumpa, R. Lallement, J. C. Raymond, V. Kharchenko, arXiv:0812.3823 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 14 pages, 5 figures, 1 table, accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal

Numerical Astrophysics and Hydrodynamics

Cosmic ray driven dynamo in galactic disks. A parameter study
Michał Hanasz, Katarzyna Otmianowska-Mazur, Grzegorz Kowal, Harald Lesch, arXiv:0812.3906 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 12 papges, 11 figures, accepted for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysics

A galaxy dynamo by supernova-driven interstellar turbulence
Oliver Gressel, Udo Ziegler, Detlef Elstner, Günther Rüdiger, arXiv:0812.4018 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 6 pages, 5 figures, IAU Symp. 259 proceedings (in press)

Stars, Supernovae and Stellar Remnants

On the birthrates of Galactic neutron stars
E. F. Keane and M. Kramer, 2008, MNRAS, 391, 2009
Full Text: HTML, PDF (Size: 991K)

Nickel-Rich Outflows from Accretion Disks Formed by the Accretion-Induced Collapse of White Dwarfs
B.D. Metzger, A.L. Piro, E. Quataert, arXiv:0812.3656 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 6 pages, 3 figures, 1 table; submitted to MNRAS Letters

Physics of Neutron Star Crusts
N. Chamel, P. Haensel, arXiv:0812.3955 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 182 pages, published version available at this http URL.
Journal-ref: Living Rev. Relativity 11, (2008), 10

Monday, December 22, 2008

More on Obama's picks for science posts.

John Holdren as chief science advisor. Jane Lubchenco (a Professor of Marine Biology) to direct NOAA, Harold Varmus (Nobel Prize-winner, former head of NIH) and Eric Lander (Human Genome Project) to jointly chair the Presidential Council of Advisers on Science and Technology.

From SciAm.

Bob Park, somewhat preemptively, describes this as "the most influence science has had in the White House since the Eisenhower administration."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Obama's Science Advisor?

Strong indications are that President-elect Barack Obama has picked physicist John Holdren to be the president's science adviser.
From Science. I've never heard of this guy before, but it sounds like a good choice. Although he does rather look like an older version of Barry "Bazza!" McKernan, of Frying Donut infamy.

Interesting Astrophysics: Dec 15 - Dec 19.

Peer-reviewed articles and preprints that I consider worthy of notice, for the period December 15th to 19th, 2008.

Galaxies and Starbursts

On the chemistry and distribution of HOC+ in M 82. More evidence for extensive PDRs
Fuente, A.; García-Burillo, S.; Usero, A.; Gerin, M.; Neri, R.; Faure, A.; Le Bourlot, J.; González-García, M.; Rizzo, J. R.; Alonso-Albi, T.; Tennyson, J., 2008, A&A, 492, 675.
Abstract | PDF file (800.2 KB) | PS file (1.692 MB)

Modeling the X-ray emission of SN 1993J
Tanja K. Nymark, Poonam Chandra, Claes Fransson, arXiv:0812.2252 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 12 pages, 7 figures, 3 tables. Accepted for publication in A&A

Molecular Superbubbles and Outflows from Starburst Galaxy NGC 2146
An-Li Tsai, Satoki Matsushita, Kouichiro Nakanishi, Kotaro Kohno, Ryohei
Kawabe, Tatsuya Inui, Hironori Matsumoto, Takeshi G. Tsuru, Alison B.
Peck, Andrea Tarchi, arXiv:0812.2828 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 24 pages, 18 figures, accepted by PASJ Vol. 61, No. 2

A Millimetre Survey of Starburst Dominated Ultraluminous Infrared Galaxies at z~2
J. D. Younger, A. Omont, N. Fiolet, J.-S. Huang, G. G. Fazio, K. Lai, M. Polletta, D. Rigopoulou, R. Zylka, arXiv:0812.2476 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 11 pages, 10 figures, resubmitted to MNRAS with minor revisions

Unveiling the dominant gas heating mechanism in local LIRGs and ULIRGs
Miguel A. Perez-Torres, Antxon Alberdi, Cristina Romero-Canizales, Luis Colina, Marco Bondi, Marcello Giroletti, Jose Maria Torrelles, Antonis Polatidis, arXiv:0812.3280 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 6 pages, 2 figures, uses PoS.cls. To appear in Proceedings of Science, Proc. of the 9th European VLBI Network Symposium on the Role of VLBI in the Golden Age for Radio Astronomy and EVN Users Meeting, Bologna, September 2008

Balancing the Energy Budget between Star-Formation and AGN in High Redshift Infrared Luminous Galaxies
E. J. Murphy, R. R. Chary, D. M. Alexander, M. Dickinson, B. Magnelli, G. Morrison, A. Pope, H. I. Teplitz, arXiv:0812.2927 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 19 pages, 13 figures; submitted to ApJ

This is worth a look. 24 micron photometry alone, seemingly so powerful and robust in the local universe, may lead you astray for certain higher redshift classes of sources.

Evidence of Star Formation in Local S0 Galaxies: Spitzer Observations of the SAURON Sample
Pasquale Temi, Fabrizio Brighenti, William G. Mathews, arXiv:0812.2594 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 21 Pages, Accepted by ApJ

Star-forming galaxies in SDSS: signs of metallicity evolution
M.A. Lara-Lopez, J. Cepa, A. Bongiovanni, H. Castaneda, A.M. Perez Garcia, M. Fernandez Lorenzo, M. Povic, M. Sanchez-Portal, arXiv:0812.2626 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 4 pages, 3 figures

The Disruption and Fueling of M33
M.E. Putman, J.E.G. Peek, A. Muratov, O. Gnedin, W. Hsu, K.A. Douglas, C. Heiles, S. Stanimirovic, E.J. Korpela, S.J. Gibson, arXiv:0812.3093 [pdf, other]
Comments: ApJ submitted (11 figures, several with color)

The Milky Way Spiral Arm Pattern
Peter Englmaier, Martin Pohl, Nicolai Bissantz, arXiv:0812.3491 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 6 pages, 4 figures. To appear in "Tumbling, Twisting, and Winding Galaxies: Pattern Speeds along the Hubble Sequence", E. M. Corsini and V. P. Debattista (eds.), Memorie della Societa Astronomica Italiana


Radiative Feedback in Relic HII Regions at High-Redshift
Andrei Mesinger, Greg L. Bryan, Zoltan Haiman, arXiv:0812.2479 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 12 pages, 10 figures, submitted to MNRAS

High Redshift Metals I.: The Decline of C IV at z > 5.3
George D. Becker, Michael Rauch, Wallace L. W. Sargent, arXiv:0812.2856 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 11 pages, 8 figures, submitted to ApJ

Photo-heating and supernova feedback amplify each other's effect on the cosmic star formation rate
Andreas H. Pawlik, Joop Schaye, arXiv:0812.2913 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 5 pages, 3 figures, submitted for publication in MNRAS

Does the Universe Have a Handedness?
Michael J. Longo, arXiv:0812.3437 [pdf]

I have no idea of what to make of this last one.

Black Holes and AGN

Intermediate-Mass Black Holes as LISA Sources
M. Coleman Miller, arXiv:0812.3028 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: Accepted by CQG, LISA 7 Special Issue

The X-ray Jets of Active Galaxies
D.M. Worrall (University of Bristol), arXiv:0812.3401 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 46 pages. Accepted for publication in The Astronomy and Astrophysics Review

Mass Loss by X-ray Winds from Active Galactic Nuclei
Doron Chelouche, arXiv:0812.3621 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 16 pages,19 figures

Stars and Supernovae

One Dimensional Dynamical Models of the Carina Nebula Bubble
E. Harper-Clark, N. Murray, arXiv:0812.2906 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: Accepted to APJ. 47 pages, 13 figures

Hum. Must say my gut feeling is that the conditions in places like the Carina nebula are exactly the right sort to violate the basic assumptions of the models they use, so I'm not too surprised at their results. Still, its always worth actually doing the experiment rather than just supposing the outcome.


How Interstellar Chemistry (and Astrochemistry More Generally) Became Useful
T. W. Hartquist, S. Van Loo, S. A. E. G. Falle, arXiv:0812.3265 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 15 pages, 1 figure, to be published in Proceedings of the Dalgarno Celebratory Symposium:Contributions to Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics, Astrophysics and Atmospheric Physics, Eds. James Babb, Kate Kirby and Hossein Sadeghpour

The astronomical units
N. Capitaine, B. Guinot, arXiv:0812.2970 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 2 pages, to be published in the Proceedings of the "Journees 2008 Systemes de reference spatio-temporels"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

XMM-Newton AO8 time allocation committee results

The accepted observation lists for XMM-Newton AO8 are online, listed by ObsId and by Ra Dec.

At first glance there appears to be little in the way of general observations of star-forming disk galaxies, with the exception of our Local Group neighbors M33 and M31.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Astro2010: The Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey

I'm a little slow off the mark on this, but the National Academies has a web page up on Astro2010, the new decadal survey of the state and future of astronomy and astrophysics in the USA.

Mission statement, committee membership, events calendar, community input, all available from that one page (including links to existing comments made prior to the Chair and committee being selected).

[Update Sep 08 2009: Fixed link.]

Yet more...

The Washington Post has perhaps the most interesting article of the bunch about tensions between NASA's administrator Michael Griffin and Obama's NASA transition team ("Uncertainty Clouds Transition at NASA", by Joel Achenbach. 12/15./2008.).

Basically it sounds like Obama's team (at least one of whom has high-level NASA experience) are skeptical of some of the information they're being given on the Constellation program (basically the manned-space program replacing the Shuttle, and intended as the vehicle for a return to the Moon. Note that Constellation is nothing to do with the proposed X-ray Observatory formerly known as Constellation-X).

Rumors of delays and costs overruns in the Constellation program are nothing new. Those of you who read Alan Stern's November 23 editorial in the NYT decrying routine acceptance of cost increases as a cancer overtaking NASA may remember that Constellation was one of the programs he chose to specifically mention by name.

My personal opinion is that hard scrutiny, especially of the components of Bush's Moon/Mars plan, will not hurt NASA in the long run. There are many reasons why programs rarely come in on cost, few of which involve deliberate malfeasance, but that does not mean it should be accepted without question.

We certainly need a long term plan for space, more powerful launch vehicles, a replacement for the Shuttle (if we are to continue with manned space flight), and most importantly a rational, justifiable, sustainable, cost-effective plan for the long term development of space (including, if needs be, manned space flight). Simply continuing Bush's plan is unlikely to be the best way of doing that.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dustup denied...

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin has denied as false the anonymous claims made in the Orlando Sentinel article (which I mentioned previously here) of conflict between him and members of Obama's transition, in particular regarding the Constellation manned space flight program aimed at getting America back to the Moon.

Lets hope this is true... If there are real problems with Constellation then the associated financial problems would unavoidably spill over in some degree to hurt NASA's science mission and space astrophysics.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rumors of serious conflict...

Unsourced rumors, to be precise.

And multiple unnamed sources might well all originate from one source, so the "multiple" adds no weight if the pedigree of the information is so low.

If O'Keefe was still NASA director I wouldn't doubt it for a second, but Griffin seemed to be somewhat more pragmatic, especially given the strong political pressure he must have been under for the last few years.

But... well, read the Orlando Sentinel article ("NASA has become a transition problem for Obama") yourself.

Interesting Astrophysics: Dec 06 to Dec 12

This weeks batch of peer-reviewed papers and arXiv preprints I consider interesting.

Galaxies and Starbursts

The Elliptical-Spheroidal and Elliptical-Elliptical Galaxy Dichotomies
John Kormendy, arXiv:0812.0806 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 8 pages, 4 figures, requires asp2006.sty, to be published in Galaxy
Evolution: Emerging Insights and Future Challenges, ed. S. Jogee et al.,
Astron. Soc. Pacific, 2009

The evolution of the Galactic metallicity gradient from high-resolution spectroscopy of open clusters
Laura Magrini, Paola Sestito, Sofia Randich, Daniele Galli, arXiv:0812.0854 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 16 pages, 18 figures, A&A accepted

Metallicity determination in gas-rich galaxies with semiempirical methods
A.M. Hidalgo-Gamez, D. Ramirez-Fuentes, arXiv:0812.1041 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 26 pages, 9 figures and 2 tables. To appear at AJ, January 2009

The impact of TP-AGB stars on hierarchical galaxy formation models
Chiara Tonini, Claudia Marasto, Julien Devriendt, Daniel Thomas, Joseph Silk, arXiv:0812.1225 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 5 pages, 4 figures. Submitted to MNRAS Letters

Essential observations of the Lyman continuum
Stephan R. McCandliss, arXiv:0812.2018 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: A contributed paper to the FUSE Annapolis Conference entitled, "Future Directions in Ultraviolet Spectroscopy." Five pages, 1 figure. To appear as an AIP Conference Proceeding

Exploring the Star Formation History of Elliptical Galaxies: Beyond Simple Stellar Populations with a New Estimator of Line Strengths
Ben Rogers, Ignacio Ferreras, Reynier F. Peletier, Joseph Silk, arXiv:0812.2029 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 13 pages, 12 figures, 4 table. Submitted for publication in MNRAS

Triggered Star Formation and the Creation of the Supergiant HI Shell in IC 2574
Daniel R. Weisz, Evan D. Skillman, John M. Cannon, Fabian Walter, Elias Brinks, Juergen Ott, Andrew E. Dolphin, arXiv:0812.2036 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 5 Pages, 4 Figures, ApJ Letter, Accepted

Can the cosmic-ray driven dynamo model explain the observations of the polarized emission of edge-on galaxies ?
Katarzyna Otmianowska-Mazur, Marian Soida, Barbara Kulesza-Żydzik, Michał Hanasz, Grzegorz Kowal, arXiv:0812.2150 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 7 pages, 7 figures. ApJ, accepted

Numerical Astrophysics and Hydrodynamics

Gas Properties and Implications for Galactic Star Formation in Numerical Models of the Turbulent, Multiphase ISM

H. Koyama, E. C. Ostriker, arXiv:0812.1846 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 63 pages including 19 Figures; Accepted for publication in ApJ

Pressure Relations and Vertical Equilibrium in the Turbulent, Multiphase ISM
H. Koyama, E. C. Ostriker, arXiv:0812.1848 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 31 pages including 9 Figures; Accepted for Publication in ApJ

Redistributing hot gas around galaxies: do cool clouds signal a solution to the overcooling problem?
Tobias Kaufmann, James S. Bullock, Ariyeh H. Maller, Taotao Fang, James Wadsley, arXiv:0812.2025 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 14 pages, 11 figures. Submitted to MNRAS

This last one uses SPH, so I debated whether it really belonged in the hydrodynamics category or in the theoretical cosmology category, but in the end I decided to be generous and count it as hydrodynamics.


An analysis of electron distributions in galaxy clusters by means of the flux ratio of iron lines FeXXV and XXVI
D.A. Prokhorov, F. Durret, V.A. Dogiel, S. Colafrancesco, arXiv:0812.1650 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 6 pages, 3 figures, accepted for publication in A&A

This paper computes line emission for non-Maxwellian electron distributions! I really should spend the time to read this paper fully...

X-raying the Intergalactic OVI Absorbers
Y. Yao, T. M. Tripp, Q. D. Wang, C. W. Danforth, C. R. Canizares, J. M. Shull, H. L. Marshall, L. Song, arXiv:0812.2020 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 9 pages, 5 figures, 3 tables, submitted to ApJ

Evidence for the Missing Baryons in the Angular Correlation of the Diffuse X-ray Background
M. Galeazzi, A. Gupta, E. Ursino, arXiv:0812.2219 [pdf, other]
Comments: 15 pages, 3 figures, Accepted for publication on ApJ

AGN and Black Holes

Feast and Famine: Regulation of Black Hole Growth in Low Redshift Galaxies
Guinevere Kauffmann, Timothy M. Heckman, arXiv:0812.1224 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 22 pages, 11 figures, submitted to MNRAS

On the jet contribution to the AGN cosmic energy budget

A. Cattaneo, P. N. Best, arXiv:0812.1562 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 7 pages, 3 figures, submitted to MNRAS

Cosmology (Theoretical)

he Star Forming Universe at z=2
S. Khochfar, J. Silk, arXiv:0812.1183 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: Submitted to ApJL, high-resolution figures available from sadeghk@mpe.mpg.de

The Challenge of Modelling Galactic Disks
Andreas Burkert, arXiv:0812.1835 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 7 pages, 2 figures, invited contribution: IAU Symposium 254 on "The Galaxy Disk in Cosmological Context"

Stars, Supernova and Star Clusters

Stellar Age Estimation from ~3 Myr to ~3 Gyr
Lynne Hillenbrand, Eric Mamajek, John Stauffer, David Soderblom, John Carpenter, Michael Meyer, arXiv:0812.1262 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 4 pages; to appear in "Cool Stars XV" published by AIP Conference Series (online only)

The mass function of young star clusters in spiral galaxies
S. S. Larsen, arXiv:0812.1400 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 14 pages, 8 figures. Accepted for publication in A&A

Solar System, Planets and Astrobiology

Habitability of Super-Earth Planets around Other Suns: Models including Red Giant Branch Evolution
W. von Bloh, M. Cuntz, K.-P. Schroeder, C. Bounama, S. Franck, arXiv:0812.1027 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 40 pages, 6 figures; Astrobiology (in press)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Atomic Airplanes

In a previous post back in June '08 discussing the unhappy history of nuclear-powered aeroplane designs from the 1950's to the 1970's, I ended by wondered whether anyone was still thinking big.

Seems like some people are trying to give atomic airplanes a second chance. SciAm has an online article by Karen Frenkel discussing this, although tellingly she notes that nuclear physicists and nuclear engineers are generally NOT in favor of it.

If it'll have more leg-room per seat I'm all for it! (Just kidding, the problems raised in the article do seem quite serious.)

[Image from wikipedia of the Convair NB-36H nuclear reactor testbed.]

Friday, December 05, 2008

Interesting Astrophysics: Dec 01 to Dec 05

The current week's set of peer-reviewed papers and arXiv preprints I consider interesting.

Galaxies and Starbursts

Star Formation Rates in Lyman Break Galaxies: Radio Stacking of LBGs in the
COSMOS Field and the Sub-muJy Radio Source Population

C.L. Carilli, Nicholas Lee, P. Capak, E. Schinnerer, K.-S. Lee,
H. McCraken, M. S. Yun, N. Scoville, V. Smolcic, M. Giavalisco,
A. Datta, Y. Taniguchi, and C. Megan Urry, The Astrophysical Journal 2008 December 20, Vol. 689, No. 2: 883-888.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF Version (290 KB)

Evolution of Lyman Alpha Galaxies: Stellar Populations at z ~ 0.3
Steven L. Finkelstein, Seth H. Cohen, Sangeeta Malhotra, James E. Rhoads, arXiv:0812.0592 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: Submitted to the Astrophysical Journal

Morphological Composition of z~0.4 groups: The site of S0 formation
D. J. Wilman, A. Oemler, J. S. Mulchaey, S. L. McGee, M. L. Balogh, R. G. Bower, arXiv:0811.4425 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 13 pages, 6 figures. Accepted for publication in ApJ

The Hubble flow around the Local Group
I.D. Karachentsev, O.G. Kashibadze, D.I. Makarov, R.B. Tully, arXiv:0811.4610 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 14 pages, 6 figures, 1 table. Accepted for publication in MNRAS

Binary Galaxies in the Local Supercluster and Its Neighborhood
I. D. Karachentsev, D. I. Makarov, ArXiv:0812.0689 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: published in Astrophysical Bulletin, 2008, Vol. 63, No. 4, pp. 299-345
Journal-ref: Astrophysical Bulletin, 2008, Vol. 63, No. 4, pp. 299-345

Stellar population analysis on local infrared-selected galaxies
X. Y. Chen, Y. C. Liang, F. Hammer, Y. H. Zhao, G. H. Zhong, arXiv:0811.4694 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 13 pages, 11 figures, accepted for publication by A&A

EVN observations of the Ultra Luminous Infrared Galaxies IRAS 23365+3604 and IRAS 07251-0248
Cristina Romero-Cañizales, Miguel Ángel Pérez-Torres, Antxon Alberdi, arXiv:0812.0760 [pdf, other]
Comments: 3 pages, 6 figures and 1 table; needs PoS.cls. To be be published in Proceedings of Science, proceedings of The 9th European VLBI Network Symposium on The role of VLBI in the Golden Age for Radio Astronomy and EVN Users Meeting, September 23-26, 2008, Bologna, Italy

The IR Luminosity Functions of Rich Clusters
Lei Bai, George H. Rieke, Marcia J. Rieke, Daniel Christlein, Ann I. Zabludoff, arXiv:0812.0427 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 15 pages, 8 figures, 1 table, accepted by ApJ

The cosmic evolution of metallicity from the SDSS fossil record
Benjamin Panter, Raul Jimenez, Alan F. Heavens and Stephane Charlot, 2008, MNRAS, 391, 1117
HTML, PDF (Size: 1553K)

Intergalactic Baryons in the Local Universe
Charles W. Danforth, arXiv:0812.0602 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: Invited review to appear in "Future Directions in Ultraviolet Spectroscopy", Oct 20-22, 2008, Annapolis, MD, M. E. Van Steenberg, ed. (April 2009). 8 pages, five figures

The Chemical and Ionization Conditions in Weak Mg ii Absorbers
Anand Narayanan, Jane C. Charlton, Toru Misawa, Rebecca E. Green, and Tae-Sun Kim The Astrophysical Journal 2008 December 20, Vol. 689, No. 2: 782-815.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF Version (3768 KB)

Galaxy merger morphologies and time-scales from simulations of equal-mass gas-rich disc mergers
Jennifer M. Lotz, Patrik Jonsson, T. J. Cox and Joel R. Primack, 2008, MNRAS, Volume 391 Issue 3, 1137
HTML, PDF (Size: 19397K)

A semi-empirical model of the infrared emission from galaxies
D. C. Ford, B. Nikolic and P. Alexander, 2008, MNRAS, Volume 391 Issue 3, 1176
HTML, PDF (Size: 644K)


Primordial Nucleosynthesis: an updated comparison of observational light nuclei abundances with theoretical predictions
G. Miele, O. Pisanti, arXiv:0811.4479 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 5 pages, 4 figures, to appear in the proceedings of NOW 2008

Synchrotron Radiation from the Galactic Center in Decaying Dark Matter Scenario
Koji Ishiwata, Shigeki Matsumoto, Takeo Moroi, arXiv:0811.4492 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 20 pages, 6 figures

A semi-analytic model for the co-evolution of galaxies, black holes and active galactic nuclei
Rachel S. Somerville, Philip F. Hopkins, Thomas J. Cox, Brant E. Robertson and Lars Hernquist, MNRAS, 2008, Volume 391 Issue 2, Pages 481 - 506
HTML, PDF (Size: 2550K)

The Role of Cold Flows in the Assembly of Galaxy Disks
A.M. Brooks, F. Governato, T. Quinn, C.B. Brook, J. Wadsley, arXiv:0812.0007 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: accepted to ApJ

Numerical Astrophysics

Smart detectors for Monte Carlo radiative transfer
Maarten Baes, MNRAS, 2008, Volume 391 Issue 2, Pages 617 - 623
HTML, PDF (Size: 4538K)

Modeling the Local Warm/Hot Bubble
Dieter Breitschwerdt, Miguel A. de Avillez, Verena Baumgartner, arXiv:0812.0505 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 8 pages, 3 figures, to appear in the proceedings of "The Local Bubble and Beyond II", Philadelphia, USA, April 21-24, 2008

X-rays and Gamma rays

Calibration of the Gamma-RAy Polarimeter Experiment (GRAPE) at a Polarized Hard X-Ray Beam
P. F. Bloser, J. S. Legere, M. L. McConnell, J. R. Macri, C. M. Bancroft, T. P. Connor, J. M. Ryan, arXiv:0812.0782 [pdf]
Comments: 35 pages, 14 figures, accepted for publication in NIM-A

Section on Extragalactic Science Topics of the White Paper on the Status and Future of Ground-Based TeV Gamma-Ray Astronomy
H. Krawczynski et al, arXiv:0812.0793 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: Comments: report from the Extragalactic Science Working group of the APS commissioned White paper on ground-based TeV gamma ray astronomy (12 pages, 3 figures)

Black Holes, Compact Objects, AGN

X-Ray Emission from Active Galactic Nuclei with Intermediate-Mass Black Holes
G. C. Dewangan, S. Mathur, R. E. Griffiths, and A. R. Rao, The Astrophysical Journal 2008 December 20, Vol. 689, No. 2: 762-774.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF Version (1175 KB)

Chandra Observations of Nuclear X-ray Emission from Low Surface Brightness Galaxies
M. Das, C. S. Reynolds, S. N. Vogel, S. S. McGaugh, N. G. Kantharia, arXiv:0812.0457 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 17 pages, 1 table, 4 figures. To appear in ApJ

Frying Doughnuts: What can the reprocessing of X-rays to IR tell us about the AGN environment?
B. McKernan, K.E.S. Ford, N. Chang, C.S. Reynolds, arXiv:0812.0984 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 12 pages, MNRAS accepted

Stars and Supernovae

The Scale-Free Character of the Cluster Mass Function and the Universality of the Stellar Initial Mass Function
Fernando J. Selman and Jorge Melnick, The Astrophysical Journal 2008 December 20, Vol. 689, No. 2: 816-824.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF Version (949 KB)

Semi-analytical formulas for the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram
Lorenzo Zaninetti, arXiv:0811.4524 [pdf, other]
Comments: Pages 35, Figures 13
Journal-ref: Published on Serbian Astronomical Journal, 177, (2008), pages 73-85

Difficulties in Probing Nuclear Physics: A Study of $^{44}$Ti and $^{56}$Ni
Aimee Hungerford, Christopher L. Fryer, Francis X. Timmes, Patrick Young, Michael Bennett, Steven Diehl, Falk Herwig, Raphael Hirschi, Marco Pignatari, Georgios Magkotsios, Gabriel Rockefeller, arXiv:0811.4645 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: To appear in the Conference Proceedings for the "10th Symposium on Nuclei in the Cosmos (NIC X)", July 27 - August 1 2008, Mackinack Island, Michigan, USA

Nucleosynthesis Calculations from Core-Collapse Supernovae
Christopher L. Fryer, Patrick Young, Michael Bennett, Steven Diehl, Falk Herwig, Raphael Hirschi, Aimee Hungerford, Marco Pignatari, Georgios Magkotsios, Gabriel Rockefeller, Francis X. Timmes, arXiv:0811.4648 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: To appear in the Conference Proceedings for the "10th Symposium on Nuclei in the Cosmos (NIC X)", July 27 - August 1 2008, Mackinack Island, Michigan, USA

Overview of the Orion Complex
John Bally, arXiv:0812.0046 [pdf, other]
Comments: 24 pages, 15 figures. To be published in Handbook of Star Forming Regions Vol. I Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 2008, Bo Reipurth, ed

This article is particularly interesting with respect to our local vicinity in the Galaxy.

Planets and Astrobiology

The structure of the inner Oort cloud from the simulation of its formation for 2 Gyr
G. Leto, M. Jakubík, T. Paulech, L. Neslušan and P. A. Dybczyński, 2008, MNRAS, Volume 391 Issue 3, Pages 1350 - 1358
HTML, PDF (Size: 915K)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Alan Stern's NYT editorial on cost inflation at NASA

Alan Stern, former associate administrator in charge of the NASA Science Mission Directorate from 2007 to 2008, has an editorial in the NYT on NASA's self-imposed problem of routine cost inflation.

And the Mars Science Laboratory is only the latest symptom of a NASA culture that has lost control of spending. The cost of the James Webb Space Telescope, successor to the storied Hubble, has increased from initial estimates near $1 billion to almost $5 billion. NASA’s next two weather satellites, built for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have now inflated to over $3.5 billion each! The list goes on: N.P.P., S.D.O., LISA Pathfinder, Constellation and more. You don’t have to know what the abbreviations and acronyms mean to get it: Our space program is running inefficiently, and without sufficient regard to cost performance. In NASA’s science directorate alone, an internal accounting in 2007 found over $5 billion in increases since 2003.

As a scientist in charge of space sensors and entire space missions before I was at NASA, I myself was involved in projects that overran. But that’s no excuse for remaining silent about this growing problem, or failing to champion reform. And when I articulated this problem as the NASA executive in charge of its science program and consistently curtailed cost increases, I found myself eventually admonished and then neutered by still higher ups, precipitating my resignation earlier this year.

Endemic project cost increases at NASA begin when scientists and engineers (and sometimes Congress) burden missions with features beyond what is affordable in the stated budget. The problem continues with managers and contractors who accept or encourage such assignments, expecting to eventually be bailed out. It is worsened by managers who disguise the size of cost increases that missions incur. Finally, it culminates with scientists who won’t cut their costs and members of Congress who accept steep increases to protect local jobs.

Well worth a read in its entirety.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Worth reading: Men from Earth by Buzz Aldrin and Malcolm McConnell

My father in law Mike lent me Men from Earth, by Buzz Aldrin and Malcolm McConnell (1989, Amazon link), and it turned out to be quite a page-turner.

The book is an account of the space program from the end of World War II through to Apollo 11, in particular the manned space program. It is a mix of Buzz Aldrin's first hand account with technical and historical details of both the US and Soviet space programs, the blending of which both humanizes the history and places the human aspect in context.

It is refreshingly frank regarding the disappointments, problems and failures experienced on both sides of the space race, and also regarding the issues confronting NASA in the 1980's with the lack of a real mission or a mandate to develop a long term space program. Given that it was written in the late 80's it is ironic how Aldrin and McConnell identify the same problems that confront NASA now: the shuttle as a flawed launcher, the need to develop a safe launch capability, the lack of direction for the manned space program, the sad fact that we don't have a heavy launcher comparable to the Saturn launcher technology that was thrown away in the 70's when the Shuttle program was cobbled together.

I was also surprised at how much was known about the Soviet moon program - although I knew the Soviets had been developing the G-1 launcher and that they'd had accidents with it I hadn't realized how seriously they had taken the moon race, or how much political pressures for propaganda victories had damaged their space program.

All in all I learned a lot that I hadn't seen or heard before - there was a lot of detail that you can't get in wikipedia articles - and its really quite well written. Well worth a read.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Interesting Astrophysics: Turkey Edition

The latest batch of preprints and papers I consider interesting, assembled between November 24th and November 28th, 2008.

The galaxy shown is the edge-on spiral galaxy NGC 5907 (from APOD), showing the faint stellar streams in its halo that are all that remains of a smaller satellite galaxy that has been tidally disrupted and absorbed by NGC 5907. See the Martínez-Delgado et al paper linked to below.

Galaxies and Starbursts

Far-Ultraviolet Observations of Starburst Galaxies with FUSE: Galactic Feedback in the Local Universe
J.P. Grimes, T.M. Heckman, A. Aloisi, D. Calzetti, C. Leitherer, C.L. Martin, G. Meurer, K. Sembach, D.K. Strickland, arXiv:0811.3618 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: ApJS, in press

Martin Zwaan1, Fabian Walter2, Emma Ryan-Weber3, Elias Brinks4, W. J. G. de Blok5 and Robert C. Kennicutt, 2008, The Astronomical Journal 136 2886-2896
PDF (699 KB) | HTML | References

Spitzer Observations of the z = 2.73 Lensed Lyman Break Galaxy: MS 1512cB58 Brian Siana, Harry I. Teplitz, Ranga-Ram Chary, James Colbert, and David T. Frayer The Astrophysical Journal 2008 December 10, Vol. 689, No. 1: 59-67.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF Version (436 KB)

The Nature of Faint Spitzer-selected Dust-obscured Galaxies
Alexandra Pope, R. Shane Bussmann, Arjun Dey, Nicole Meger, David M. Alexander,
Mark Brodwin, Ranga-Ram Chary, Mark E. Dickinson, David T. Frayer,
Thomas R. Greve, Minh Huynh, Lihwai Lin, Glenn Morrison, Douglas Scott,
and Chi-Hung Yan, The Astrophysical Journal 2008 December 10, Vol. 689, No. 1: 127-133.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF Version (521 KB)

Filaments in Galactic Winds Driven by Young Stellar Clusters A. Rodríguez-González, A. Esquivel, P. F. Velázquez, A. C. Raga, and V. Melo The Astrophysical Journal 2008 December 10, Vol. 689, No. 1: 153-159.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF Version (388 KB)

The Recent Star Formation Histories of M81 Group Dwarf Irregular Galaxies
Daniel R. Weisz, Evan D. Skillman, John M. Cannon, Andrew E. Dolphin, Robert C. Kennicutt, Jr., Janice Lee, and Fabian Walter The Astrophysical Journal 2008 December 10, Vol. 689, No. 1: 160-183.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF Version (1869 KB)

The Ghost of a Dwarf Galaxy: Fossils of the Hierarchical Formation of the Nearby Spiral Galaxy NGC 5907
David Martínez-Delgado, Jorge Peñarrubia, R. Jay Gabany, Ignacio Trujillo, Steven R. Majewski, and M. Pohlen The Astrophysical Journal 2008 December 10, Vol. 689, No. 1: 184-193.
Abstract | Full Text with Enhancements | PDF Version (1187 KB)

CI and CO in nearby galaxy centers: the bright galaxies NGC1068 (M77), NGC2146, NGC3079, NGC4826 (M64), and NGC7469
F.P. Israel, arXiv:0811.4058 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: Accepted for publication by A&A. 15 pages, 9 figures, 7 tables

The Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey: A High-Resolution Spectroscopy Anthology
D.A. Dale, J.D.T. Smith, E.A. Schlawin, L. Armus, B.A. Buckalew, S.A. Cohen, G. Helou, T.H. Jarrett, L.C. Johnson, J. Moustakas, E.J. Murphy, H. Roussel, K. Sheth, S. Staudaher, C. Bot, D. Calzetti, C.W. Engelbracht, K.D. Gordon, D.J. Hollenbach, R.C. Kennicutt, S. Malhotra, arXiv:0811.4190 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: Accepted for publication in ApJ

Dark Matter in Gas-Rich Dwarf Galaxies

U. Klein, G. Gentile, P. Salucci, G. J, G. Józsa, arXiv:0811.4289 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 2 pages, 1 figure
Journal-ref: ASP Conference Series, Vol. 396, 2008., p.485

Active Galactic Nuclei

Constraining the Active Galactic Nucleus Contribution in a Multiwavelength Study of Seyfert Galaxies
M. Meléndez, S. B. Kraemer, H. R. Schmitt, D. M. Crenshaw, R. P. Deo, R. F. Mushotzky, and F. C. Bruhweiler, The Astrophysical Journal 2008 December 10, Vol. 689, No. 1: 95-107.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF Version (947 KB)

Numerical astrophysics and hydrodynamics

Dependence of Interstellar Turbulent Pressure on Supernova Rate
M. Ryan Joung, Mordecai-Mark Mac Low, Greg L. Bryan, arXiv:0811.3747 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 13 pages incl. 8 figures, submitted to ApJ

Three-dimensional modeling of the asymmetric blast wave from the 2006 outburst of RS Ophiuchi: Early X-ray emission
S. Orlando, J.J. Drake, J.M. Laming, arXiv:0811.3941 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 12 pages, 7 Figures; paper accepted for publication in A&A; the paper
with high-resolution figures can be downloaded at this http URL

Stars and Supernovae

Abundances of massive stars: some recent developments
T. Morel, arXiv:0811.4114 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: Invited review presented at 'Evolution and Pulsation of Massive Stars on the Main Sequence and Close to it' (Liege, July 2008). To appear in Communications in Asteroseismology (8 pages and 7 colour figures)

On or beyond the edge of seriousness

The search for a strategy for mankind to survive the solar Red Giant catastrophe
M. Taube, W. Seifritz, arXiv:0811.4052 (cross-list from physics.space-ph) [pdf, other]
Comments: 15 pages, 2 figures

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dark Matter Annihilation?

The physicists are getting all excited by the hints from PAMELA and ATIC of an excess in the electron cosmic ray spectrum at around 620 GeV - could this be a signal of dark matter (WIMPs) interacting with itself and annihilating?

Dennis Overbye has a nice article in yesterdays NYT suitable for a general readership ("A Whisper, Perhaps, From the Universe's Dark Side"). Yousaf Butt wrote the Nature "News and Views" article that serves as a good introduction or perspective on the Chang et al (2008, Nature, 456, 362, "An excess of cosmic ray electrons at energies of 300–800 GeV" article that has kick started the media interest.

[Image is Figure 2 from the Chang et al paper, accessible with caption here as long as you have a Nature subscription]

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fireball over Canada

On Thursday 24th November at about 5:30pm MT viewers in western Canada could see a brilliant meteor pass overhead, which may later have broken up over Alberta. While not as spectacular as the 1972 daylight fireball seen over the American West, it still looks pretty damn impressive.

Video footage of the meteor from the BBC can be seen here.

[Update: Dec 02 2008 - more on the Saskatchewan fireball here. Fragments have been found.]

Friday, November 21, 2008

Interesting astrophysics: Nov 17 to Nov 21.

The latest crop of astronomy-related papers and preprints I consider interesting.

Galaxies and starburst galaxies

AGN-Starburst connection in NGC7582: GNIRS IFU observations
Rogemar A. Riffel, Thaisa Storchi-Bergmann, Oli L. Dors Jr, Claudia Winge, arXiv:0811.2327
Comments: 16 pages, 11 figures, accepted for publication in MNRAS

Starburst99 for Windows
Claus Leitherer, Julia Chen, arXiv:0811.2396
Comments: 19 pages, 6 figures, accepted for publication in New Astronomy

The Structure of Active Merger Remnant NGC 6240 from IRAC Observations
Stephanie J. Bush, Zhong Wang, Margarita Karovska, and Giovanni G. Fazio, The Astrophysical Journal 2008 December 1, Vol. 688, No. 2: 875-884.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF Version (601 KB)

Strange Filamentary Structures (Fireballs) around a Merger Galaxy in the Coma Cluster of Galaxies
Michitoshi Yoshida, Masafumi Yagi, Yutaka Komiyama, Hisanori Furusawa, Nobunari Kashikawa, Yusei Koyama, Hitomi Yamanoi, Takashi Hattori, and Sadanori Okamura, The Astrophysical Journal 2008 December 1, Vol. 688, No. 2: 918-930.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF Version (2398 KB)

Emission-lines calibrations of the Star Formation Rate from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey
B. Argence, F. Lamareille, arXiv:0811.2420 [ps, pdf, other]

Warm gas accretion onto the Galaxy

J. Bland-Hawthorn, arXiv:0811.2467 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 14 pages, 6 figures. "The Galaxy Disk in Cosmological Context," Copenhagen, IAU Symp 254, in press

A kinematic study of the irregular dwarf galaxy NGC 2366 using HI and Halpha observations
J. van Eymeren, M. Marcelin, B. Koribalski, R.-J. Dettmar, D.J. Bomans, J.-L. Gach, P. Balard, arXiv:0811.2724 [pdf, other]
Comments: 15 pages, 14 figures, accepted for publication by A&A

The Expected Detection of Dust Emission from High-Redshift Lyman Alpha Galaxies
Steven Finkelstein, Sangeeta Malhotra, James Rhoads, Nimish Hathi, Norbert Pirzkal, arXiv:0811.2794 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: Accepted to MNRAS; 9 pages, 5 figures

MgII absorption systems and their neighbouring galaxies from a background subtraction technique
Michelle Caler, Ravi Sheth, Bhuvnesh Jain, arXiv:0811.2805 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: Submitted to MNRAS

Identikit 1: A Modeling Tool for Interacting Disk Galaxies
Joshua E. Barnes, John E. Hibbard, arXiv:0811.3039 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 22 pages, 16 figures. Accepted by The Astronomical Journal; to appear February 2009. To get a copy with high-resolution figures, use the web interface, or download software, see this http URL

Galactic Parameters from Whole Sky 2MASS Star Count
C.K. Chang, C.M. Ko, T.H. Peng, arXiv:0811.3269 [pdf, other]

Spectra of Nearby Galaxies Measured with a New Very Broadband Receiver
Gopal Narayanan, Ronald L. Snell, Neal R. Erickson, Aeree Chung, Mark H. Heyer, Min Yun, William M. Irvine, arXiv:0811.3374 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: published in the Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union (2008), 4. Vol 251, pp 251-256 Cambridge University Press Journal-ref: Organic Matter in Space, Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, 2008, IAU Symposium, Volume 251, p. 251-256

(The galaxies are M82, NGC 253, Arp 220 and IC 342)

Active Galactic Nuclei

The location and kinematics of the coronal-line emitting regions in AGN
Authors: J. R. Mullaney, M. J. Ward, C. Done, G. J. Ferland, N. Schurch, arXiv:0811.3204 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 6 Pages, 5 Figures, Accepted for publication in MNRAS Letters

X-ray astronomy

On the importance of satellite lines to the He-like K ALPHA complex and the G ratio for calcium, iron, and nickel
J. Oelgoetz, C. J. Fontes, H. L. Zhang, S. N. Nahar, A. K. Pradhan, arXiv:0811.2240
Comments: 12 pages, 5 figures, to appear in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Searching for Narrow Emission Lines in X-Ray Spectra: Computation and Methods
Taeyoung Park, David A. van Dyk, and Aneta Siemiginowska, The Astrophysical Journal 2008 December 1, Vol. 688, No. 2: 807-825.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF Version (3531 KB)

Chi-square and Poissonian Data: Biases Even in the High-Count Regime and How to Avoid them
Philip J. Humphrey, Wenhao Liu, David A. Buote, arXiv:0811.2796 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 9 pages, 2 figures. Accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal

Wide Area X-ray Surveys for AGN and Starburst Galaxies
A. Ptak, arXiv:0811.3223 [ps, pdf, other]
Comments: 7 pages, 5 figures. Conference proceedings in "Classification and Discovery in Large Astronomical Surveys", 2008, C.A.L. Bailer-Jones (ed.)


A hydrodynamical analysis of the steady-state shock model
Authors: A. Preite Martinez, arXiv:0811.3338 [pdf]
Comments: 9 pages, to be published in The Open Astronomy Journal (this http URL)


A Realistic Cosmological Model Based on Observations and Some Theory Developed Over the Last 90 Years
Geoffrey Burbidge, arXiv:0811.2402
Comments: 21 pages, conference

The anti-Big Bang contrarians are a dying breed. This is worth reading simply to see some of the reasons why they believe what they believe, before they are gone and forgetten. I expect that the detailed refutations of this that will undoubtedly appear in the next few weeks or months will be more informative regarding the validity of the hot Big Bang cosmology than the Burbidge paper is.

Stars and Supernovae

Supernova 1996cr: SN 1987A's Wild Cousin?
F. E. Bauer, V. V. Dwarkadas, W. N. Brandt, S. Immler, S. Smartt, N. Bartel, and M. F. Bietenholz, The Astrophysical Journal 2008 December 1, Vol. 688, No. 2: 1210-1234.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF Version (1314 KB)

No evidence for mass segregation in young clusters
J. Ascenso, J. Alves, M. T. V. T. Lago, arXiv:0811.3213 [pdf, other]
Comments: 10 pages, 12 figures. Download a high-resolution version at this http URL (1 MB)

Planets, Astrobiology

Mars Before the Space Age
Barrie W Jones, arXiv:0811.2700 [pdf]
Comments: 13 pages as published, 13 Figures. Journal-ref: Int. J. Astrobiol. vol. 7 no. 2, 143-155 (2008)

IRAS-based whole-sky upper limit on Dyson Spheres
Richard A. Carrigan Jr, arXiv:0811.2376
Comments: 32 pages, 8 figures

You will be relieved to know that there are no Type II civilizations within 300 pc of us!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

SciAm article on Planck mission

The Scientific American online has an nice little article on ESA's Planck mission to study the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the fading afterglow of the Big Bang.

Want to know what science there is still left to do on the CMB after WMAP? Read the official Plank science case here (PDF).

Planck is named after Max Planck, one of the founders of quantum theory, and who introduced quantization of energy in 1900 (and h, Planck's constant) "as an act of despair" in order to correctly predict the frequency dependence of black body radiation.

[Images: (1) CAD image of the Planck satellite from the official Planck web site. (2) Max Planck in 1878, aged 20. He looks spiffy and well groomed in this image, but the 1901 picture of him is a mess!]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

von Daniken

Aardvarchaelogy has a guest post by Florian Freistetter reporting on a recent popular lecture given by Erich von Däniken, which is worth a read if you know who von Daniken is.

At age 10 or so I was terribly impressed and convinced by von Daniken's books, of which the local library seemed to have the full collection at that time. While von Daniken, and similar works by Peter Kolosimo, were terribly contrived, they were certainly entertaining (the plot of the latest Indiana Jones movie is basically a simplistic copy of von Daniken's work) and in some way informative (I wouldn't say educational) - I probably first heard about Easter Island, Nazca, the Mayans, and so on in those books, while having largely forgotten the wacky parts.

[Image: Pacal the Great's sarcophagus lid, interpreted by von Daniken as a Mayan riding a rocket.]

Friday, November 14, 2008

Interesting Astrophysics: Nov 07-14, 2008

The latest crop of papers and preprints I consider interesting, again arranged by general category. Enjoy!

Galaxies and Starbursts

The Physical Scale of the Far-Infrared Emission in the Most Luminous Submillimeter Galaxies Joshua
D. Younger, Giovanni G. Fazio, David J. Wilner, Matthew L. N. Ashby,
Raymond Blundell, Mark A. Gurwell, Jia-Sheng Huang, Daisuke Iono,
Alison B. Peck, Glen R. Petitpas, Kimberly S. Scott, Grant. W. Wilson,
and Min S. Yun The Astrophysical Journal 2008 November 20, Vol. 688, No. 1: 59-66.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF Version (1963 KB)

Chandra Evidence for AGN Feedback in the Spiral Galaxy NGC 6764 J. H. Croston, M. J. Hardcastle, P. Kharb, R. P. Kraft, and A. Hota The Astrophysical Journal 2008 November 20, Vol. 688, No. 1: 190-197.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF Version (1898 KB)

Quenching of Star Formation
Vivienne Wild, Tamas Budavari, Jeremy Blaizot, C. Jakob Walcher, Peter H. Johansson, Gerard Lemson, Gabriella de Lucia, Stephane Charlot, arXiv:0811.1174v1 [astro-ph]
Comments: 7 pages, 3 figures. Conference proceedings in "Classification and Discovery in Large Astronomical Surveys", 2008, C.A.L. Bailer-Jones (ed.)

Nobeyama Millimeter Array Observations of the Nuclear Starburst of M83: A GMA Scale Correlation between Dense Gas Fraction and Star Formation Efficiency
Kazuyuki Muraoka, Kotaro Kohno, Tomoka Tosaki, Nario Kuno, Kouichiro Nakanishi, Kazuo Sorai, Sumio Ishizuki, Toshihiro Handa, Takeshi Okuda, arXiv:0811.1431v1 [astro-ph]
Comments: 25 pages, 13 figures, PASJ in press, version with high resolution figures is available via this http URL

Highly ionized gas on galaxy scales: mapping the interacting Seyfert galaxy LEDA 135736
J. Gerssen, D. J. Wilman, L. Christensen, R. G. Bower, V. Wild, arXiv:0811.1576v1 [astro-ph]
Comments: Accepted for publication in MNRAS Letters

The Stellar Populations of Lyman Break Galaxies at z~5
Kiyoto Yabe, Kouji Ohta, Ikuru Iwata, Marcin Sawicki, Naoyuki Tamura, Masayuki Akiyama, Kentaro Aoki, arXiv:0811.2041v1 [astro-ph]
Comments: 29 pages, 21 figures, accepted for publication in ApJ. For high-resolution figures, see this http URL

The local FIR Galaxy Colour-Luminosity distribution: A reference for BLAST, and Herschel/SPIRE sub-mm surveys
Edward L. Chapin, David H. Hughes, Itziar Aretxaga, arXiv:0811.2214v1 [astro-ph]
Comments: 12 pages, 7 figures. Accepted by MNRAS

Physical properties of galaxies and their evolution in the VIMOS VLT Deep Survey. I. The evolution of the mass-metallicity relation up to z~0.9
F. Lamareille et al, arXiv:0811.2053v1 [astro-ph]
Comments: 21 pages, revised version submitted to A&A

Physical properties of galaxies and their evolution in the VIMOS VLT Deep Survey. II. Extending the mass-metallicity relation to the range z=0.89-1.24
E. Perez-Montero et al, arXiv:0811.2085v1 [astro-ph]
Comments: 9 pages and 8 figures. In press in Astronomy & Astrophysics

Did they really need to split this into two papers? But anyway, they conclude that their results are consistent with the Tremonti et al (2004) interpretation: low mass galaxies lose metal, while high mass galaxies experience effectively closed box chemical evolution.

X-ray specific papers of interest

X-Ray Reflection Nebulae with Large Equivalent Widths of Neutral Iron Ka Line in the Sgr C Region
Hiroshi Nakajima, Takeshi Go Tsuru, Masayoshi Nobukawa, Hironori Matsumoto, Katsuji Koyama, Hiroshi Murakami, Atsushi Senda, Shigeo Yamauchi, arXiv:0811.1830v1 [astro-ph]
Comments: Accepted for publication in PASJ

Stars and Supernovae

Probing The Lower Mass Limit for Supernova Progenitors and the High-Mass End of the Initial-Final Mass Relation from White Dwarfs in the Open Cluster M35 (NGC 2168)
Kurtis A. Williams, Michael Bolte, Detlev Koester, arXiv:0811.1577v1 [astro-ph]
Comments: Accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal. 16 pages, 9 figures, Figures 1-5 and 7 reduced in resolution. Uses emulateapj.cls

Elemental abundances, chemical evolution, plasma physics

On the solar nickel and oxygen abundances
Pat Scott, Martin Asplund, Nicolas Grevesse, A. Jacques Sauval, arXiv:0811.0815v1 [astro-ph]
Comments: 4 pages, 2 figures. Submitted to ApJL

Metal-Absorption Column Densities in Fast Radiative Shocks
Orly Gnat, Amiel Sternberg, arXiv:0811.1774v1 [astro-ph]
Comments: 32 pages, 29 figures. ApJ in press. Electronic data available at this http URL


Coreless Terrestrial Exoplanets Linda T. Elkins-Tanton and Sara Seager The Astrophysical Journal 2008 November 20, Vol. 688, No. 1: 628-635.
Abstract | Full Text | PDF Version (356 KB)

The X-Ray Environment During the Epoch of Terrestrial Planet Formation: Chandra Observations of h Persei
Thayne Currie, Nancy Remage Evans, Brad Spitzbart, Jonathan Irwin, Scott J. Wolk, Jesus Hernandez, Scott J. Kenyon, Jay Pasachoff, arXiv:0811.1753v1 [astro-ph]
Comments: 34 pages, 7 Figures, 2 Tables; Accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal

Long Period Exoplanets
Caleb Scharf, Kristen Menou, arXiv:0811.1981v1 [astro-ph]
Comments: Submitted ApJ Letters