Astronomy: January 2016 Archives

Researchers Find Evidence of a Real Ninth Planet, Caltech

"Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the distant solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the Sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the Sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the Sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly."

Caltech suspends professor for harassment, Science

"For what is believed to be the first time in its history, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena has suspended a faculty member for gender-based harassment. The researcher has been stripped of his university salary and barred from campus for 1 year, is undergoing personalized coaching to become a better mentor, and will need to prove that he has been rehabilitated before he can resume advising students without supervision. Caltech has not curtailed his research activities. The university has not disclosed the name of the faculty member, but Science has learned that it is Christian Ott, a professor of theoretical astrophysics who studies gravitational waves and other signals from some of the most violent events in the cosmos."

Memo from Caltech leadership Regarding Faculty Harassment/Discrimination Issues, Caltech

Congresswoman reveals prominent astronomy professor's history of sexual harassment, Mashable

"A U.S. congresswoman is calling out a leading astronomy educator who violated the sexual harassment policy at the University of Arizona, saying the case highlights a larger problem of holding known offenders accountable in higher education."

Astronomy roiled again by sexual-harassment allegations, Nature

"The new revelations confirm that harassment is a widespread problem in science with only some of the instances now coming to light, says Joan Schmelz, an astronomer at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and longtime advocate for women in astronomy. "You can't just sweep this stuff under the rug, declare it confidential and hope that no one ever knows about it," she says."

What astronomy can do about sexual harassment, Meg Urry/AAS, CNN

"Last week, at its annual winter conference, the American Astronomical Society held a well-attended plenary session to address harassment and next steps. To an outsider, the many articles about the incident might make astronomy seem like a bad place for women. But having worked in physics and astronomy for some 40 years, I see this bad news about astronomy as really good news."

- Stopping Sexual Harassment In The Space Science Community (Update), earlier post
- Dealing With Harassment at American Astronomical Society, earlier post
- Harassment Hypocrisy from the AAS Membership, earlier post

(Mostly) Thumbs Down on ExoNames, ManyWorlds

"One of the co-discoverers of HD 149026 b is Debra Fischer, now a professor of astronomy at Yale University. Asked her view of the 31 new exoplanet names she replied: "It would take a big push to change the names of exoplanets in the published literature. Every future publication would need to cross-list the former name(s) and this would be awkward and somewhat time consuming. Never say never, but it would require significant motivation for me to do this and I'm not feeling it right now." Jason Wright, an astronomer and astrophysicist at Pennsylvania State University, said that doesn't expect the new names to catch on with exoplanet scientists, with academic journals, and as a result probably not with the public. Wright is one of several who maintain exoplanet databases and who sent a letter to the IAU in 2013 questioning its proper role in exoplanet naming."

Name An Extrasolar Planet - For Free, earlier post


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This page is an archive of entries in the Astronomy category from January 2016.

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