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.