Wednesday, November 29, 2006

(Massive) Galaxy/Quasar evolution solved!

Last paragraph in Section 4 of this paper.

Ah well. Looks like we all need to start looking for new jobs...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio

Wake (Durham) and I think we may have discovered something interesting about the 2SLAQ LRG Radio galaxy population. The clustering strength of the Radio matched 2SLAQ LRGs seems to be stronger than the "regular" LRG population. On closer inspection, this still is the case, even when we take into account the higher luminosity of the radio sample. If this result holds, this could be very interesting (and potentially a nice little paper...)

On a slight departure from this blogs regular theme - and a potentially more controverstial note - discussions with Watling (Durham) last night led me to question the validity of the Apollo missions.

However, for virtually every conspiracy theory on tinternet, there is another site de-bunking it and Bad Astronomy is as good as any for this one. It still cracks me up mind (as JPS pointed out) that on the Moon footage, as Neil Armstrong is trying to make an historical recording, you just see Buzz space-hopping about in the background, having the time of his life. And why not!

Monday, November 27, 2006


Sometimes things that really should seem pretty effing easy, really just take me ages to program up. This seems to be the case for the latest estimates of my AAOmega "field-to-field" errors. I also suspect that one of the fields (d05) is dominating the fit....

Hogg's Research (in some ways, the parental page to NPR's Research) mentioned "SDSS-III" recently. I first heard about this at (the now infamous) Frontiers conference. The plan is to use the Sloan telescope, LRGs (I think) and possibly photo-z's (??) to go after Dark Energy and indeed the equation of state parameter w (where P = w \rho) at z=~0.6 and z=~0.3. This is all very exciting, because a) it is exactly what we wanted to do with AAOmega b) this is all right up my street. Anyway, I have my own thoughts on all of this, which will no doubt eeek out over time....

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Maybe I really do care about globs...

Afternoon all.

First off, a couple of comments about "Globular Clusters Systems and Elliptical Galaxies", which was the title of one of the Friday lunchtime talks. Norris (Durham) convinced us that the colour-metallicity link in globs is not straight-forward (are these things ever) with the former essentially being bi-modal, the latter not. Thus when you study a sample of ~100s of globular clusters from around 8 or so nearby elliptical galaxies, you conclude the globs formed *very* early on, in situ with the galaxy itself. The glob-spiral link is still up for debate though. Very nice stuff. Maybe we all should care about globs after all...

Gao (Durham) gave the other FLT, which can basically be summed up by saying "we have no clue when, how or where the very first generation of starts formed".

On the paper front, after a horrible Wednesday but really good Thursday and Friday, the referees comments and subsequent corrections have been finished. The paper has gone back to the 2SLAQ collaboration for one (*final*) time and may well appear on astro-ph before the end of term. Yay!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Those sneaky hobbitses

We had our Friday Lunchtime talks today (it's Tuesday, something to do with dinosaur hunters, branes and Dome C....)

Crighton (Durham) talked about "The latest estimate of the primordial deuterium abundance" and essentially said a) D/H is reasonably hard to do b) we're probably underestimating the systematics when using QSO absorbtion sight-lines to do this sorta stuff c) in general, we're probably underestimating systematics when it comes ot (light) element abundances. Thus BBNS measurements (including 7Li, ahem) is probably in line with CMB Omega_b estimates, and the Universe is safe for another day.
Meanwhile, I'm left to wonder how much a varying fine-strucutre constant screws all this up.

Stott (Durham) got the juices flowing with a overview of his current research, "Evolution of Red Sequence galaxies in X-ray luminous clusters out to z=0.5". A comparison between the "local", z~0.1 LACRS (Las Campanas Cluster Redshift Survey) and MACS (Massive Cluster Survey) at z~0.5 is the primary driver.
JPS wowed us with pictures of galaxy lenses ("here, here and here") and poised the question, "we see little red things in today's clusters, but why don't we see them in clusters at redshifts of a half???". Some sweet stuff.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Let me get this right....

NASA (with a little bit of help from the nice folk at ESA) are planning to put a 6 1/2 tonne contraption on top of a heavy life Arianne 5 rocket. Then, they'll light the blue touch paper and retire, so that said contraption with its nano-precision optics experiences upto 10G while blasting off, in an effort to get to this pseudo-mythical "Lagrangian 2" point in deep space. L2 is so far away that no shuttle can reach it, indeed, anything can happen before you even get there.

However, if you do reach this point roughly 1.5 million kms from the Earth, that's when the fun starts. The solar panels have to deploy. This I surmise then gives the contraption spacecraft enough power to open its sun-brolley (which incidentally is the size of about 4 tennis courts). After this various motors (or whatever) have to whizz, purr, whine such that a 6.5m beryllium primary mirror opens, perhaps to within micron-accuracy precision accuracy. All the while, the secondary snaps down into place like a flimsy picnic table, all for the bargain price of $10 billion probably by the time it all gets done.

And if you don’t believe any of this me, just look here.

(Oh, yeah, and did I mention this will find the first galaxies that ever formed over 12 billion years ago, directly observe planets actually in the very initial stages of being build around nearby stars, and general revolutionise astronomy, science and personkinds understanding of the majestic awe that is the Universe).

Monday, November 13, 2006

The two greatest redshift surveys ever, or a house of cards???

Dear breaders (blog-readers),

As some, all or none of you might be aware, I received the referees report for my 2SLAQ LRG clustering paper last week. On the whole, the feedback was (very) positive and am sure the refs comments will make it stronger, better paper. Muchos appreciatas.

However, me being a Hibs daft footy fan and playing for Ustinov AFC, I always like a good "discussion" with the referee and this might seem to be no different. Essentially what is at stake is the entire legacy of the SDSS and 2dFGRS. I kid you not.

The question, my friends is, "In any given redshift survey, what determines the maximum scale at which your survey can probe?" (Answers on a postcard/email/blog comment post. Winner gets an honourable mention in the Ross et al. acknowledgments!! ;-)

I have my own ideas - thanks Cole (Durham) for help here - but if I'm/we're incorrect, not only are my results capoot, the whole house of cards will tumble too!!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I drove all night...

Sunday. In the office, listening to Roy Orbison, which now automatically makes me think of JEG - eeek!!

Yup, it's squeaky bum time.

Setting a few things up to run overnight. Nothing too fancy. Re-doing me CV
(academic and non-academic) and actually making me feel pretty good about myself.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

referees report

After a couple of semi-hectic days earlier on this week, yesterday and today are spent answering
the referees report for me baby. Things looking pretty healthy and will be hoping to get the vast majority of this done by the weekend.

Meanwhile, having been discussing with Bielby (Durham) clever ways in which to do BAO measurements at redshift~3, where his v. nice sample of 400 LBGs are. This was all inspired by this paper.