data archives filled with undiscovered discoveries

I spoke with Tsalmantza today in our weekly phone meeting. She has run our two-redshift model (which discovered some binary black hole candidates last year) on all the quasar spectra in SDSS. She has found a large number that show evidence of a foreground galaxy. These are all excellent candidates to be multiply imaged gravitational lens systems, some of which will have time variations for measuring time delays. HST proposal time! The nice thing is that you can tell a lot about each system just from the spectrum, not just the redshifts but detailed galaxy and quasar properties, so target selection for follow-up can be a highly informed process.

In a not unrelated conversation, I discussed with anthropologist Katie Detwiler (New School) the industrialization of astronomy (especially in Chile); she is interested in how changes in astronomy (increasing importance of archival research and specialized observing staff separated from academic astronomers) are related to larger trends that include globalization and development. She asked me how astronomy has changed now that many of the things being discovered each year are in fact just being located in databases that were filled long (years) ago (as with SDSS). That's a great question.

1 comment:

  1. It would be awesome if you guys found some new lenses in SDSS! Of course you'll want to vet against the SQLS team-