Rix (MPIA) started the day concerned with substantial issues with the linear parallax model that Eilers (MPIA) and I have built; we spent much of the day following them up. Our precision gets worse with distance—an effect we have noticed all summer but haven't been able to explain—and now we have to explain it! We compared stars in clusters and looked at parallax offsets as a function of various things; we don't yet have an explanation. But we did do some straightforward error propagation and guess what: Our precision really can't be much better than the 9-ish percent that we are seeing. The whole exercise left me more confident in the quality of the model in the end: The model really seems to have learned how to cope with dust, age, and intrinsic luminosity effects, even though we didn't tell it how.
In a call with Bonaca (Harvard) we looked at oddities in her model of the morphology of the GD-1 stream gaps. We had some provable scalings that should be there but the code wasn't reproducing them. We worked out today that the stream perturbation isn't quite in the regime we thought it was. In more detail: An encounter of a massive perturber with a stream is impulsive if GM/(b v^2) is much less than 1, where G is Newton's constant, M is the perturber's mass, b is the impact parameter, and v is the relative velocity of the encounter (or maybe some component thereof). That is, you have to have this dimensionless number much less than unity if you want the impulse approximation to hold. Duh! But now we understand the simulations she is making.
The day ended with Birky (UCSD) and I calling Andrew Mann (UNC) and Adam Burgasser (UCSD) to discuss Birky's results modeling M-type dwarf spectra in APOGEE. She has beautiful results, and can show both that her spectral models are accurate (in the space of the spectral data) and that her inferences about latents (temperature and metallicity) are reasonable when compared with proxies and tests of various kinds. So it is time to finish writing it up! We made plans for that. One amusing thing about her project is that it creates a beautiful translation between temperature, metallicity, and spectral type. And it isn't trivial!