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Space Science

Teenager Makes Discovery About Galaxy Distribution 247

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-lined-up dept.
Janek Kozicki writes "It has been long thought that dwarf galaxies orbiting Andromeda galaxy (M31), or any other galaxy for that matter, are distributed more or less randomly around the host galaxy. It seemed so obvious in fact that nobody took time to check this assumption. Until a 15-year-old student, Neil Ibata, working with his father at the astronomic observatory, wanted to check it out. It turned out that dwarf galaxies tend to be placed on a plane around M31. The finding has been published in Nature. Local press (especially in France) is ecstatic that a finding by a 15-year-old got published in Nature. However, there's another more important point: what other obvious things didn't we really bother to check?"
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Teenager Makes Discovery About Galaxy Distribution

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06, 2013 @06:55PM (#42499301)

    Raises curiosity: how much work is done by this 15-old boy and how much is actually done by his father?

  • by coma_bug (830669) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @07:01PM (#42499343)

    It has been long thought that dwarf galaxies orbiting Andromeda galaxy (M31), or any other galaxy for that matter, are distributed more or less randomly around the host galaxy.

    [citation needed]

    The planets orbit the sun near the ecliptic plane, so if you were to make an assumption about the distribution of galaxies why would you assume galaxies are distributed randomly?

  • by slew (2918) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @07:02PM (#42499347)

    Raises curiosity: how much work is done by this 15-old boy and how much is actually done by his father?

    I imagine about the same ratio as famous professors and the grad-students working under them... Don't underestimate the ideas and work that can be done by underlings. Only in this case, the underling gets the credit, in the other case, usually not so much...

  • by drdread66 (1063396) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @07:03PM (#42499355)

    The kid probably did most of the coding, but used data gathered by other observations at the observatory (or even other observatories). The idea probably came from his father. This is exactly the sort of straightforward project you would assign a bright undergrad (or high school student) to do. It's relevant, mostly easy, and might possibly generate a new result. You can't ask for much more.

  • Physics.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JWSmythe (446288) <.jwsmythe. .at. .jwsmythe.com.> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @07:04PM (#42499359) Homepage Journal

        Who woulda thunk, matter in and around a galaxy tends to end up in the accretion disk. Mindblowing.

  • by xigxag (167441) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @07:11PM (#42499417)

    However, there's another more important point: what other obvious things we didn't really bother to check?

    Oh how I hate those pointless debate-starter questions. They come off as so amateur.

    The story stands on its own. There's no real possibility that on a Slashdot thread someone's going to come up with an obvious unchecked thing that in any way compares with this discovery. It's not a "point" anyway, it's a query.

    Not to mention the summary being incorrect anyway. It states in the article abstract that "t has previously been suspected that dwarf galaxies may not be isotropically distributed around our Galaxy, because several are correlated with streams of Hi emission, and may form coplanar groups. These suspicions are supported by recent analyses." So it's already been known about the Milky Way, this is just further analysis regarding M31, not some kind of revolutionary insight. And it only involves about half of the dwarf satellites, not all of them. Whatever. Carry on.

  • by DavidClarkeHR (2769805) <david.clarke@hrg ... ist.ca minus bsd> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @07:41PM (#42499579)

    Raises curiosity: how much work is done by this 15-old boy and how much is actually done by his father?

    I imagine about the same ratio as famous professors and the grad-students working under them... Don't underestimate the ideas and work that can be done by underlings. Only in this case, the underling gets the credit, in the other case, usually not so much...

    Grad students and professors? That's a bit of a stretch. Maybe parents + science fairs would be a better comparison.

  • by Genda (560240) <(mariet) (at) (got.net)> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @07:44PM (#42499603) Journal
    Because the dwarf galaxies shouldn't be constrained to the galactic plane any more than globular clusters which are randomly disbursed. This suggests that there my be an unknown process that brings dwarf galaxies to the galaxy's equator... perhaps inflow of intragalactic gas or dark matter.. Makes for a interesting study.
  • by elfprince13 (1521333) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @09:08PM (#42500083) Homepage
    That depends on the university and the lab. I've heard all sorts of horror stories.
  • by drolli (522659) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @10:59PM (#42500615) Journal

    wish i had mod points.....

    After ten years in science (i left): The position and the fact if you are mentioned on a paper as an author depends on many things. I have seen people who never ever did anything but stand in the way (intentionally, sometimes) mentioned as co-authors due to higher forces (buddying with the group leader) and i have seen how phd students who built the setup over five years somehow slipped of the authors list after they graduated and where thanked for technical help.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07, 2013 @01:07AM (#42501569)

    I've seen it go both ways. Sometimes the professor will try to grab most of the credit for a student's work, sometimes almost all the intellectual work was done by the professor and all the student did was assemble hardware and collect data, but the student still gets most of the credit. I see the second more often that the first, but both happen.

  • by Rob Simpson (533360) on Monday January 07, 2013 @02:02AM (#42501959)
    Yeah, I'm sure a top marginal rate of 75% would apply to a lot of astronomers, just like it did in the US when there were even higher top marginal income tax rates in the 50s and 60s. You know, that bleak period in history when the economy was in tatters and no one could find a job...
  • Re:Worse ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday January 07, 2013 @06:02AM (#42503173) Homepage

    Interested in telling us about the drug? Any sort of new pain med in Phase III trials would get a fair amount of publicity since we've not had anything really useful since the discovery of opiates a couple of thousand years ago.

    Lots of noise - people are always 'discovering' majorly useful drugs that never seem to pan out, but getting anywhere near the market usually gets you publicity because it's rare.

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

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