Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Most Complete 3D Map of the Local Universe

I've been at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Boston this week, and there's been a lot going on here, including a great session on the Science from Galaxy Zoo, which I plan to write about soon, but I wanted today to mention the release of the 2MASS Redshift Survey (2MRS) which has been getting some press today. 

The 2MRS shown in an all-sky projection with galaxies colour coded by their distance from us (from purple to red as the distance increases). The projection puts the plane of our Galaxy along the middle - and we can't see through that, so there's no galaxies there. Credit: Tom Jarrett (IPAC). 
This was a project I worked on during my first postdoctoral position (2005-2008) working with John Huchra. This is really John's survey, and Lucas Macri (another former mentee of John's) and myself have been really delighted to be able to finish it off and release it to the public in memory of John. You can now download the data from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and the paper, Huchra et al. (2011) will be submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Supplements (which publishes catalogues) very soon.

Also check out Tom Jarrett's page of different maps from 2MRS.

Here in Boston there was a session on remembering the scientific legacy of John Huchra, during which I presented the 2MRS, and also watched for the first time the whole of "John Huchra's Universe" (a world wide telescope tour made by his colleagues at Harvard). A YouTube version of it is below, and I think it really explains why John was so keen to do the 2MRS.

Links to coverage (via Google News search of "2MASS Redshift Survey").

CfA press release.

Portsmouth University coverage.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Interview on the Jodcast

I'm interviewed on the May 2011 Extra edition of the Jodcast. I talk both about the LOFAR project and Galaxy Zoo. Enjoy. :)

LOFAR-UK blog about it.
Galaxy Zoo blog about it.

(this post makes me think I have too many blogs, and talked to too many people at NAM! Still one more NAM interview about LOFAR to come out!).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

John Huchra Measuring Redshifts at the Whipple Observatory

One of the things I've been working on recently is the final publication of the 2MASS Redshift Survey (2MRS). This is the largest complete map of the local universe (ie. it looks at as much of the sky as is possible - about 95% when you consider our Galaxy blocks some of it), and represents the culmination of decades of work on redshift surveys by John Huchra (1948-2010). I worked with John on the 2MRS as a postdoc for 3 years (2005-2008) and myself and Lucas Macri (a former student of John's) have been working on finalizing the 2MRS and publishing it in John's name (based largely on text he wrote in various unpublished descriptions of the survey). We plan to release the data very soon.

As part of this whole effort I'm going to be speaking in a special session at the upcoming American Astronomical Society meeting (#AAS218) in Boston, MA about "John and the 2MRS". For my presentation I've been looking for pictures of John observing to get redshifts, and with some help (particularly from Dan Brocious at the Whipple Observatory, and Boyd Estus at Heliotrope Studies, Ltd) I managed to get my hands on the below clip of John Huchra observing redshifts at FLWO in the 1980s, presumably as part of his famous CfA redshift survey (it's a segment from "So Many Galaxies, So Little Time", narrated by Margaret Geller).

By definition this was exactly what I was looking for!

By the way you can read an article I wrote about John (shortly after his death in October 2010) on the Galaxy Zoo blog. 

Some recent Galaxy Zoo work

I'm a bit behind, but I wanted to point out two papers I was involved in from the Galaxy Zoo project which have recently come out on the arXiV.

Both were blogged about on the Galaxy Zoo blog (in both cases by the first author, and in both cases I was the second author).

Ben Hoyle: GZoo2 Bar Paper Accepted in MNRAS

Lucy Fortson: Galaxy Zoo and Zooinverse Review Article posted today on arXiv

This last ones use the above Hubble Tuning Fork I made using Galaxy Zoo style SDSS images of galaxies.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A LOFAR Pencast

Today over on the LOFAR-UK blog I posted the below pencast in which I describe the LOFAR low band antennas.

brought to you by Livescribe

This is using the new pencast pen I bought after trying one out at dotastro. Now having gone through the whole process I'm still impressed. Watch out for more pencasts. :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Talking about LOFAR with the Naked Scientists

I discussed LOFAR and LOFAR-UK with Andrew Pontzen on the special National Astronomy Meeting edition of the Astronomy podcast for the Naked Scientists.

MP3 of just my LOFAR segment.

Link to the whole podcast (including a transcript).