Many of my recent blog posts have all been about Milky Way Project, and there’s a good reason for that. The publication of our first paper, which is in press at the moment with Monthly Notices, was just a first big milestone, with more to come. I’m currently writing a follow-up paper using the initial data catalogues, and as I’m scheduled to give a talk about it at the end of the month at the joint UK/German National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester, I’d better make a move on with getting the results out.
The paper won’t be the photogenic blockbuster that Rob wrote for us, but just in case you don’t share my histogram-fetish (… you simple soul!), I’ve managed to find space for one rather sexy bubble picture to add a bit of spice. If and when the paper gets accepted I’ll instruct the editor to place it on Page 3.
My own data adventures aside, this week was another heap of fun for the project. NASA put out a press release to mark the first data release. It didn’t get picked up in too many places – there was Astronomy Magazine, Space.com, and also a short piece in the Mail Online with obligatory pretty pics of the Spitzer images and our MWP heat maps. The Mail upped Eli Bressert’s “champagne bubble” quote to liken the Milky Way to a nougat-y chocolate bar.
If I’m being a pedantic scientist, I should add that neither of those analogies are actually very accurate. Champagne bubbles are maybe somewhat similar in that they’re lighter than the liquid they’re in, but our interstellar bubbles aren’t thought to be floating or rising through the interstellar medium. But they do expand. As for chocolate bars… No, that doesn’t work either.
At Milky Way Project HQ, we launched a new phase of the project. While we continue to collect your ‘regular’ bubble drawings, we’ve now added close-up images of bubbles that are already in the catalogue, for which we’re trying to get more precise sizes and thicknesses. Rob explains all here. Our drawing tools were fairly coarse, as some users had remarked, particularly for drawing smaller bubbles. So with these new images we will try to gather more precise measurements.
I’m really looking forward to the NAM conference later this month. I haven’t been to one of these meetings since the first year of my PhD (Dublin!), and they’re great for catching up with old friends and colleagues. Having it joint with its German equivalent meeting (the AG) means that both old and new friends will be at the meeting. Another factlet is that I’m actually half-Mancie, and although my association with the city is pretty patchy (what, you haven’t noticed my striking Northern accent?), it’s fun to be there.