Doing science and dealing with Science

A screenshot from an animated journey through the active galaxy NGC 5548, created by Renaud Person, one of the world directors of the famous Assassin's Creed video game

A screenshot from an animated journey through the active galaxy NGC 5548, created by Renaud Person, one of the world directors of the famous Assassin’s Creed video game. Click on the image to watch the animation on YouTube.

It has been almost six about four (EDIT: I counted…) months since my last post, and for once there has been a reason for that other than “I was busy”. I started this blog as a way to write about my research and experiences as a PhD student at MSSL, and for the last 6 months the experiences I’ve wanted to write about have all been directly connected to something I have had to keep quiet.

On 19 June 2014, the first academic paper I have been involved in was published:

“A fast and long-lived outflow from the supermassive black hole in NGC 5548″, J. S. Kaastra et al, Science, 19 June 2014 (10.1126/science.1253787)

A free to access version is available on the arXiv here.

EDIT: A non-specialist summary is on the UCL news page here.

I have written before about my involvement in a consortium; this group of over 30 astronomers has been working together on one set of data, a multi-wavelength campaign studying the active galaxy NGC 5548.

Submitting this paper to Science meant that the whole consortium decided not to publicise our research, as when Science accepts a paper it is then under embargo until publication.

Screenshot of J. S. Kaastra et al (2014) on the Science Express webpage. Published 19 June 2014.

Screenshot of J. S. Kaastra et al (2014) on the Science Express webpage. Published 19 June 2014. Click on the image to visit that webpage.

This data was mostly collected June-July 2013 (just before I began my PhD) and we have been trying to understand it since. This has been a more complicated task than expected, because NGC 5548 looked significantly different in the soft X-ray (low energy X-ray) wavelengths than it has done in the past (see image 1 for comparison between 2013 and 2002 data).

I took on the task of presenting and editing a video summary of the paper. Making this video was suggested by one of our consortium members from Ohio State University, as this is what all their PhD students and postdocs (the next step in a research career) are requested to do when they publish a paper. This video summary is six minutes long, and you can watch it below, or on YouTube here.

I really enjoy talking about research, and especially research I am involved in, so I have to admit that I have found it very frustrating not to be able to answer general and interested questions about my work from friends, colleagues and visiting academics until now. But today I simply feel happy and proud that the first peer-reviewed research I have been involved with has now been published!

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2 thoughts on “Doing science and dealing with Science

  1. […] I took a poster, showing my work so far this year, and the consortium I’m in had six talks about our NGC 5548 campaign on one afternoon (I’ve explained the main result we announced in this post). […]

  2. […] but it was on that trip that as a consortium we tried to work out a consistent picture for the strange data we collected of NGC 5548 over the summer. It was clear that we had an unexpected result and we wanted to minimise the risk […]

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