The Top 12 of 2012

Now that 2012 is well behind us, it is fun to take one last look back and ask– what was important to us as astronomers last year? One way (and there are many!) to investigate this is to look at the papers astronomers gave a shout-out to in their own work. So, which 2012 papers were cited the most ?

Without further ado, we present in pictures the top twelve most referenced papers published in refereed astronomical journals in 2012 (as found in an ADS search on February 17), and explain what made so many people care about them. (Note: we excluded astroparticle papers from this list, but there was clearly a lot of excitement in 2012 ranging from the detection of a Higgs-like boson to an apparent gamma ray signature that might be related to dark matter.)

Next: (#12) Now you see them, now you don’t: Less Lyman-alpha emission from the oldest galaxies

About Betsy Mills

I am a 22nd-grader at UCLA, working with Mark Morris and spending the year at the MPIA in Heidelberg finishing my thesis. I like molecules in space, radio telescopes, the extreme center of our galaxy, getting to look at things no-one else has ever seen before, solving puzzles, and finding creative ways to survive graduate school


  1. Hi Betsy:

    Just a note– it looks like the arXiv link that you have on the first page of this article does not link to the title you provide.

    The link looks like it goes here:

    “How supernova feedback turns dark matter cusps into cores”

    instead of here:

    “Keck Spectroscopy of Faint 3<z<8 Lyman Break Galaxies:- Evidence for a Declining Fraction of Emission Line Sources In the Redshift Range 6<z<8"


    • Ah, actually the links are just switched–


      • Thanks Dave! The links are now fixed.

  2. Fascinating articles! But counting citations seriously distorts what astronomy is about. Because most young astronomers today work in observational cosmology, 10/12 papers are on that topic, the most glamorous frontier. But 10/12 of the most significant new papers of 2012 (selected some other way) paint a certainly much broader canvas, and reflect the amazing scope of astronomical research!
    Only the search for new planets (another glamour topic) and new calculations of the evolution of rotating stars in the HR diagram (a classic issue in stellar astronomy) penetrated the top twelve. So much more was missing!
    Nonetheless, an interesting citation poll.

    • Yes, I had the mass-to-light ratio section entirely backward; this is now corrected (and consistent with the linked astrobite). Thank you!!


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