In our weekly parallel-working Gaia DR2 prep meeting, two very good ideas came up. The first is to look for substructure in the white-dwarf sequence and see if it can be interpreted in terms of binarity. This is interesting for two reasons. The first is that unresolved WD binaries should be the progenitors of Type Ia supernovae. The second is that they might be formed by a different evolutionary channel than the single WDs and therefore be odd in interesting ways. The second idea was to focus on giant stars in the halo, and look for substructure in 3+2-dimensional space. The idea is: If we can get giant distances accurately enough (and maybe we can, with a model like this), we ought to see the substructure in the Gaia data alone; that is: No radial velocities necessary. Of course we will have radial velocities (and chemistry) for a lot of the stuff.
In the stars group meeting, many interesting things happened: Anna Ho (Caltech) spoke about time-domain projects just starting at Caltech. They sure do have overwhelming force. But there are interesting calibration issues. She has accidentally found many (very bright!) flaring M stars, which is interesting. Ekta Patel (Arizona) talked about how M33 gets its outer morphology. Her claim is that it is not caused by its interaction with M31. If she's right, she makes predictions about dark-matter substructure around M33! Emily Stanford (Columbia) showed us measurements of stellar densities from exoplanet transits that are comparable to asteroseismology in precision. Not as good, but close! And different.
In the afternoon I worked on GALEX imaging with Dun Wang (NYU), Steven Mohammed (Columbia), and David Schiminovich (Columbia). We discussed how to release our images and sensitivity maps such that they can be responsibly used by the community. And Andrina Nicola (ETH) spoke about combining many cosmological surveys responsibly into coherent cosmological constraints. The problem is non-trivial when the surveys overlap volumetrically..