new exoplanet, black-hole states, and more

At group meeting, Hattori showed us an exoplanet discovery, made with his search for single transits! Actually, the object was a known single transit, but Hattori showed that it is in fact a double transit and has a period very different from its recorded value. So this counts as a discovery, in my book. We are nearly ready to fully launch Hattori's code "in the data center"; we just need to run it on a bunch more cases to complete our functional testing.

Also at group meeting, Sanderson discussed the Gaia Challenge meeting from the previous week. There are lots of simulated Gaia-like data sets available for testing methods and ideas for Gaia data analysis. This is exciting. We also discussed generalizing her structure-finding code to make it also a clustering algorithm on the stars.

Also at group meeting, Daniela Huppenkothen (NYU) showed us time-series and spectral data from the famous black-hole source GRS 1915, which has about a dozen different "states". She suggested that there might be lots of low-hanging fruit in supervised and unsupervised classification of these different states, using both time features and spectral features. The data are so awesome, they could launch a thousand data-science masters-student capstone projects!

Tsvi Piran (Racah) gave a lively talk on the likely influence of gamma-ray bursts on life on earth and other habitable worlds. He argued that perhaps we live so far out in the outskirts of the Milky Way because the GRB rate is higher closer to the center of the Galaxy, and GRBs hurt. The ozone layer, that is.

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