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Thread: FYI ESA's Herschel

  1. #1 FYI ESA's Herschel 
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    Here are some 1st reports from the Herschel space observatory:
    http://herschel.cf.ac.uk/news/hersch...alaxies-galore


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    Forum Professor Zwirko's Avatar
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    I liked this result from the HIFI instrument.


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  4. #3 Re: FYI ESA's Herschel 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arch2008
    Here are some 1st reports from the Herschel space observatory:
    http://herschel.cf.ac.uk/news/hersch...alaxies-galore
    Hmm, yes. I participated in the conference last week. We were all surprised and worried about this press release. It contains lots of inaccurate and wrong statements, and we were puzzled as to how this could have been possible. It is a misinformation disaster that is now filling the international press. Here are the errata:

    It is speculative to state that the object observed in RCW 120 will indeed evolve into a massive star. The relevant definition in this context is that a massive star starts the nuclear fusion while it is still in its accretion phase. The fact that the object currently contains about 8 solar masses (roughly the lower limit for a massive star) does not mean that it finally will have much more mass. It all depends on the reservoir. About half of the available material processed through the protostar is repelled and re-ejected into the interstellar medium. So, if the reservoir would be depleted, the now 8 solar mass object would even "shrink". The value of 2000 solar masses in the vicinity must be attributed to the entire nebula. Only a small fraction will serve as an accretion reservoir for the protostar. So, it is nor clear, whether this object will ever evolve into a massive star.

    Even worse is the report that here is no theory that would explain such an object, let alone that it contradicts current theory. This is absolutely false. This statement was true about 15 year ago, because model calculations could only be done one-dimensionally, i.e. employing computer models that are spherically symmetric. With the advance of more powerful computer, modern theories use 3-dim models that can explain the formation of massive star very well, and it turns out, the radiation of such objects is not spherically symmetric . The current observations are used to test these models. And there have already been much success in doing so. Now claiming to have found a protostar for which no theory exists is totally unjustified.

    My explanation for this disaster is that either the results were not properly explained to the press during the dedicated press conference, or the journalists did not understand what was said. Now, most journalists and new agencies just copy the message without further investigation. Why this message could make it into the official ESA press release is a miracle to me and my colleagues.

    http://herschel.esac.esa.int/Press_Releases.shtml
    http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEM7N7KPO8G_index_0.html
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  5. #4  
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    Thanks for the rest of the story.
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  6. #5  
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    Dishmaster, would you say this misinterpretation in this instance is far worse than you would expect from journalists? Your implication is that it is very much worse, however I imagine that misinterpretations are commonplace and wonder if this isn't just an extreme example. What is your thinking?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Dishmaster, would you say this misinterpretation in this instance is far worse than you would expect from journalists? Your implication is that it is very much worse, however I imagine that misinterpretations are commonplace and wonder if this isn't just an extreme example. What is your thinking?
    From my perspective, there are two aspects. As much as journalism concerns, I agree that this is a perfect example of how so called (science) journalists bend or misunderstand facts. And, yes, misinterpretations can happen. However, I find it much more problematic from a perspective of public education. Now, everybody in the general public thinks that the scientists have fucked up again, because the theories apparently do not work and another science paradigm must be discarded, like "See, another theory debunked!". But actually the opposite is true. Most of our observations and results seem to support the current theories. Can it be worse?
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  8. #7  
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    The author is Dr. Chris E. North of the Cardiff University Astronomy and Physics department. Shouldn’t he have known better?
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arch2008
    The author is Dr. Chris E. North of the Cardiff University Astronomy and Physics department. Shouldn’t he have known better?
    Interesting. Where did you get this information from? Anyway, probably not. According to his publication record
    http://tinyurl.com/38cxwyo
    he is more an expert on the cosmic microwave background and instrumentation. If he knows as much about star formation as I know about the CMB, it would be understandable.

    Edit: After reviewing the original link more thoroughly, I found the name myself.
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  10. #9  
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    It looks to me like Prof Ward-Thomson is the culprit, unless he was misquoted.

    “The fact that stars like this exist at all is one of the biggest mysteries in astronomy, and this star is probably going to be huge”, said Professor Derek Ward-Thompson of Cardiff University. “Now that we’ve seen such a young example, we can start to investigate why our theories can’t explain its existence”.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    It looks to me like Prof Ward-Thomson is the culprit, unless he was misquoted.

    “The fact that stars like this exist at all is one of the biggest mysteries in astronomy, and this star is probably going to be huge”, said Professor Derek Ward-Thompson of Cardiff University. “Now that we’ve seen such a young example, we can start to investigate why our theories can’t explain its existence”.
    I know him very well, and I can only guess that this quote, if it is real - it is often used as a journalistic tool - was taken out of context. Yes, it is true that current theories have difficulties to explain very massive stars around 100 solar masses, but not so much, when it comes to several dozens of solar masses. And if this object will ever evolve into something massive, then it may serve - among other examples - to investigate the initial phases of star formation. Maybe I will ask him, how this was meant and what he thinks about it.
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  12. #11  
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    Sorry that I could not get back with you (bad electrical storms). North’s name was at the top of the article as “submitted by”. Here’s his contact page:
    http://herschel.cf.ac.uk/team/contact
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  13. #12  
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    ESA has put online a video of the press conference during which all those new results were presented that made it into press releases.

    http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Herschel/SEMJDCHMI8G_0.html
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