Monday, February 28, 2011

It's Pronounced FebRUary

Lots of going through papers and putting notes on ShareFlow over the weekend and today. Also got back into the swing of things with PHL 1811 analogs, looking over referee report and new target list.

Friday, February 25, 2011

HST Proposal Deadline Day

Talk by James Allen on Independent Component Analysis of AGN vs. star-formation contributions to galaxy spectra.
More feedback on Richards' HST COS proposal, and on Farrah's WFC3 proposal.
Short skype conversation with Rafiee.
Reading more papers for Shareflow, with some posting.

Gemini GMOS tilted slits

Posting this here for future reference, as the Gemini documentation on the issue of tilted slits is ambiguous.

Spectroscopic slits for GMOS are designed on an x-y coord system, with the dispersion direction being along the x axis. The slits are described by their tilt angle "slittilt" (in degrees, with slittilt=0 for untilted slits oriented perpendicular to the dispersion direction) and by "slitsize_x" (the width of the slit in the x direction; the resolution of the spectrum varies inversely with slitsize_x) and "slitsize_y" (the height of the slit in the y direction). Untilted slits are rectangles, but tilted slits are parallelograms, with two sides of width slitsize_x in the x direction and two tilted sides of height slitsize_y in the y direction.

* The software "gmmps" displays tilted slits as parallelograms but with the WRONG WIDTH in the x-direction (it uses slitsize_x/cos(slittilt) instead of slitsize_x).
* The document "" draws tilted slits as rectangles; that is incorrect.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Read, thought about & commented on Richards' HST proposal and Rogerson's MNRAS paper draft.

Responded to Amy Kimball (student of Ivezic's) regarding anisotropic BELR emission.

Some reading for / posting on Shareflow.

Looked at some old candidate quasar spectra from SDSS UNKNOWN objects. Most but not all have been recovered already.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ketchup Post

Have been somewhat under the weather, but what time was spent on research since my last post has been mainly spent on designing the GMOS mask for observations of the Clone Arc and galaxies nearby. Have converged except for uncertainty at Gemini about the precise shapes of tilted slits and if such slits can be placed adjacent to each other. Full discussion to be posted for future community reference when everything is finalized.

Also: Skype conversation with Jesse, read Netzer's paper for journal club, read Kollatschny & Zetzl's execrable Nature letter (solid body rotation for an accretion disk. Really?), and sent along comments on draft HST reverberation mapping proposal.

Friday, February 18, 2011

GMOS Mask Design

Today is being spent designing a multiobject slit mask for GMOS-N spectroscopy.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Talk from Yesterday

Felt (and feel) good about the content and presentation of the talk. I have not always been conscientious about practicing my talks for the past few years, but let this post stand as a reminder (to me and my students reading this) that practice is worth it: I did two timed, out-loud run-throughs and each time I found issues that when fixed yielded substantial improvements. Practice your talk!

"Feedback from Quasar Winds (But Not Jets)"

Gzipped, tarred Keynote format

Gzipped Quicktime format (for downloading, not playing over the web)
Use up/down arrows to go forward/back through all slides except animations;
open A/V controls and use "jog shuttle" to forward/rewind thru animations.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reading and Talk Prep

Day of making slides for talk, including reading and calculating needed for some.
Talk is in good shape, just needs a few final touches and an out-loud practice.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Talk Prep

Giving informal 1/2 hour talk here in Cambridge on Wednesday. The quality of talks I've seen here has been mixed (I personally am batting .500), so I want this one to be worthwhile. Being doing a lot of background reading (lots more to do though!). Prepared a nice series of slides on inhomogeneous absorption.

Friday, February 11, 2011

O VI Absorption, Talk Prep

Investigated how common narrow O VI absorption is in quasars; it's more common than I thought, but still unusual enough that yesterday's implications for PHL 1811 analogs are not overthrown.

Did a bit more preparation for my informal half-hour IoA talk next week.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Now THAT was a good day.

PHL 1811 analogs unified with weak-lined quasars? Maybe! But even if it doesn't hold up, it made for a good research day.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day of Emails

Journal club with Jesse Rogerson. Discussion of potential spectroscopic proposal related to PHL 1811 analogs; sent email to Niel Brandt regarding same.

Email to Niel Brandt and student Jianfeng Wu regarding possible improvement to Fig. 7 of our paper, and pointing out one quasar with unusually strong low-ionization emission, indicative of a soft ionizing continuum.

Emails to Niel Brandt and student Nur Filiz~Ak regarding her impressive start to studying BAL variability between SDSS Legacy and SDSS-III spectra. Suggested using Allen et al. (2011) NMF reconstructions of quasar continua.

Another, shorter email to Todd Boroson regarding quasar observables vs. fundamentals.

Emailed Laura Chajet about her latest research draft.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Repeat Spectra, OVI-strong BAL quasars, Observables vs Fundamentals

Weekend through Monday noonish was spent finally getting together info on repeat observations of SDSS quasars, including some (mostly from Paul Hewett) not in the DR7 quasar catalog itself. Ali Rafiee will perform PCA reconstructions of all these spectra.

Monday afternoon was spent looking in more detail at candidate O VI strong BAL quasars.

Tuesday was IoA journal club and thinking about an email from Todd Boroson. Did some simple simulations to understand how the L_observed-FWHM plane (observables) arises from the M_BH-L_bolometric plane (fundamentals). I don't think there's anything there that's obviously really puzzling; it's just complicated.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Wind and Hot Air in Cambridge

Extremely windy last night and today, but at least it's not below freezing.

I am featured on the Cambridge IoA Podcast this month.

Started creating a slide for my talk on quasar outflows and feedback a week from Wednesday that I've been thinking about for a while, to illustrate inhomogeneous covering.

Figured out how to obtain spectral resolution info from DR7 spSpec files; next step is to batch-produce this information for Ali Rafiee.

But first, am working on finishing the compiling/crosschecking of all duplicate spectra for SDSS DR7 quasars plus AGN missing from the DR7 catalog.

Short email to Jesse Rogerson with some tips for current work he's doing to turn thesis into paper.

Thought about what to do for journal club next week instead of reverberation mapping paper... decided on discussion of submitted PHL 1811 analog paper.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Vim and Vigor

One thing I've been doing on sabbatical is to take the time to find improved solutions to common tasks I encounter. For example, I use vim (VIsual editor, iMproved) to edit text, and I've been taking the time to read the help pages to learn even more tricks. I'm finding it's definitely worth reading the help pages, even if you know a program well. On the horizon: working with svn and python.

Read and responded to Laura Chajet's latest research draft.

Gave some tips to Ali Rafiee about figuring out problematic catalog entries.

Sent comments to Yue Shen on the DR7 quasar properties catalog draft.

Lots of miscellaneous email and bookmark clearing-up.

Colloquium by Seb Oliver on HerMES (Herschel Multi-tiered Extragalactic Survey).

Started reading reverberation mapping paper for next week's journal club. And finished at 1 AM, about two hours later than I thought it was.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

GMOS; Multiple Spectra; Risaliti and [O III]; More PHL 1811 Analogs

Too long since my last post.

* GMOS pre-imaging re-oriented, re-submitted, re-activated. We'll lose 10 minutes from the science exposures, but will still have 2 minutes' more than we asked for! Still need to take a stab at mask design.

* Started a push to cross-correlate all available, good SDSS quasar spectra with the photometric etc. info of their targets, for future reference and so Ali Rafiee can reconstruct the spectra. Progress made, but couldn't finish by self-imposed deadline, so set it aside for higher-priority project. Will return to it tonight or tomorrow.

* Risaliti et al. paper on [O III] EWs for quasar club today; a worthwhile paper.

* Monday and Tuesday and part of Wednesday was selection of more PHL 1811 analogs for next Chandra AO. Target list seems to have come together nicely, although I am now wondering again about O VI BAL quasars... which may be good for a proposal!