Astrobites@Anchorage: Wednesday Morning Sessions

Astrobites is again liveblogging AAS! In order to avoid inundating our readers’ RSS feeds, we’ll be updating this post with short paragraphs about the talks we’ve heard and posters we’ve seen. So keep checking back throughout Wednesday morning!

Monday morning sessions

Monday afternoon sessions

Tuesday morning sessions

Tuesday afternoon sessions

11:40 am: Warner Prize Talk – Steven Furlanetto

The AAS Warner Prize is “for a significant contribution to observational or theoretical astronomy…to an astronomer…within eight years of receipt of their Ph.D. degree.” This year’s recipient is Steven R. Furlanetto from UCLA, and his talk, entitled “Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble: A Theorist’s Romp through the Cosmic Dawn,” was a beautifully clear and concise presentation of the recent theoretical advances (and challenges) in studying the Epoch of Reionization. He also highlighted some exciting upcoming observational tests, including measuring Lyman-alpha emitting galaxies and studies of redshifted neutral hydrogen. Perhaps most astoundingly, the title of each and every slide was a Shakespeare quote relevant to the information on that slide. We now present for you these quotes, in order, in their entirety. See if you can put together the story of the cosmic dawn with the Bard (and Steven Furlanetto) as thy guide:

This is the long and short of it
What seest thou in the dark backward and abysm of time?
Of all the wonders that i have yet heard, it seems to me most strange
These violent delights have violent ends, And in their triumph die
Out, damned spots! out, I say!
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous
That I should love a bright particular star
Nothing will come of nothing
There are more things in heaven and earth
The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together
Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful
Let me count the ways
And count myself the king of infinite space
Out, damned spots! Out, I say!
Small to greater matters must give way
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool
Truth is truth, to the end of reckoning
O brave new world!
The miserable have no medicine but hope
Strong reasons make strong actions
Perseverance, dear my Lord, keeps honor bright
How far that little candle throws its beams!
Have more than thou showest
Stars, hide your fires
Have more than thou showest
The undiscovered country
Can one desire too much of a good thing?
One man in his time plays many parts, his acts being [four] (seven) ages
What light through yonder window breaks?
O! She doth teach the torches to burn bright
It is the stars; the stars above us govern our conditions
Full of sound and fury, signifying [something] (nothing)
When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions
Thought this be madness, there is method in it
O swear (not) by the moon, the fickle moon, the inconstant moon!
Brevity is the soul of wit
He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument
Where men (and women) may read strange things


10:00 am Press Conference – Exoplanets

In a study of 152 stars with 226 transiting planets, 170 of which are smaller than Neptune, Lars Buchhave (Niels Bohr Institute/StarPlan, University of Copenhagen) and his collaborators found that small, close-in planets can form around metal-poor stars, whereas close-in Jupiter-size planets only form around stars at least as metal-rich as the sun (see the letter in Nature magazine / interactive pdf).  In this context “metal” refers to any element other than hydrogen and helium.  Metallicity is measured by the abundances of iron and hydrogen as compared to solar values.  The stars studied range in metallicity from [Fe/H] = -0.6 to 0.6 (solar metallicity is 0.0), meaning that these stars contain anywhere from 1/4 to 4 times as much iron per mass as the sun.  Earth- and Neptune-size planets were found around stars spanning this range of metallicities, whereas close-in Jupiters were only found around stars at least as metal-rich as the sun.  The abundance of Earth-size planets around stars with a variety of metallicities suggests that small planets can form around any metallicity of star.  This is encouraging for those of us who want to find the next Earth-analog since we don’t have to be as choosy about what kind of stars might host it.

Graduate student Thomas Beatty of The Ohio State University talks to the press about transit survey KELT's first discoveries.

Graduate student Thomas Beatty of The Ohio State University presented the first two discoveries of the new transit survey KELT (Kilo-degree Extremely Little Telescope):  KELT-2Ab: a hot Jupiter around the 7th brightest star known to host a transiting planet, which makes this planet an excellent target for atmospheric studies, and KELT-1b, a 30 Jupiter-mass brown dwarf that orbits its star in a mere 29 hours, which is the fastest orbit of any known brown dwarf.  To the right is a picture of Tom just before announcing his result.

Tristan Guillot of Observatoire de la Cote d’Azur / UC Santa Cruz shared new theoretical models explaining the “brown dwarf desert,” or the observed absence of brown dwarfs close to their parent stars.  Tristan noted that brown dwarfs around spectral type F stars, such as the aforementioned KELT-1, can survive longer because the more massive F stars are less efficient at stealing angular momentum from close-in companions.

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  1. Live-Blog von der 220. AAS-Tagung in Anchorage « Skyweek Zwei Punkt Null - [...] Saal voll Schülern sondern auch einen örtlichen TV-Reporter von KTUU mächtig inspiriert. Und der astrobites-Mittwoch-Vormittagsbericht ist da. [22:15 MESZ…

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