Monday, September 17, 2012

The 3rd CANDELS team meeting in a nutshell

Last week about 90 of the CANDELS team members came together at the University of California in Santa Cruz for the third annual team meeting. Throughout the week we provided some snippets of the meeting but let me wrap up the meeting with a summary.

As is typical for collaboration meetings, the week consisted of break out or splinter sessions and plenary sessions. Plenary sessions are attended by everyone and meant to update the team on the activities of the several working groups and the status of the survey itself. Splinter sessions on the other hand provide the working groups with an opportunity to get into more detail of on-going projects and plan future work. Most surveys undertaken by a large collaboration have different working groups. The working groups offer a communication platform to team members with a specific science interest to discuss their work among a smaller group and focus on their specific issues. Within CANDELS we have several working groups such as Multi-wavelength cataloging, structure and morphology, high redshift science, AGN science, Theory, Supernova science, UV science, SED-fitting and photometric redshifts, Education and Public Outreach, Junior Scientists and many more. Many of these groups had splinter sessions during this year's team meeting. 

The CANDELS team at the 3rd annual meeting in Santa Cruz, California. Image credit & copyright: Dale Kocevski

The team meeting started off with a splinter session for the SED-fitting and photometric redshift working group. Bahram Mobasher and Tomas Dahlen who are leading this working group gave us an overview of the recent photometric redshift and stellar mass estimations. Several working group members, myself included, presented their current work in this area in the morning. Most of the afternoon was then spent discussing these results and making plans on how to proceed and turn these works into publications. 

Tuesday was the first day of plenary sessions. As we told you in last Wednesday's post, on this day we mainly heard progress reports from the working group leaders on the achievements and goals of the working groups. We heard that the collaboration as a whole has already published 13 papers and 9 have been submitted and are in the refereeing process (scientific papers for publication are submitted to a journal and then evaluated by a referee who provides suggestions for improvement and clarification before the paper is published). Sandy Faber, one of the principal investigators for CANDELS, summarized the most interesting science that has come out of the survey so far. In Karina Caputi's paper a new population of very red, and dust obscured galaxies has been discovered of which you will hear more about in a future post. Another science highlight was the very heavily star-forming dwarf galaxies Arjen van der Wel told you about in his previous post. Of course there were many other interesting results discussed!

As leader of the education and public outreach working group I summarized details on this blog and provided some statistics on the number of viewers and readers we have already! I also listed some ideas for the future which we later discussed in our own splinter session on Thursday. We will tell you about these soon here, too!

As is tradition during conferences and team meetings, we also had a team dinner. Ours happened Tuesday evening during which some team members were honored for their special contributions to the team. And now we also finally have a team logo! You can read more about it in this post from last week. 

Speed brainstorming breakout session, image credit: Dale Kocevski
Wednesday was the second day of plenary sessions. We heard about the HST mosaics for the CANDELS fields and observation scheduling from Anton Koekemoer and Norman Grogin and about other catalogues for galaxy properties that have been produced by other team members. But it's not all about science with CANDELS data alone! Part of the morning was dedicated to observing proposals to use facilities other than the Hubble Space Telescope that are planned within the team. But all the good science needs some organising, too! So some of Wednesday was spent on planning out the telecon schedule, announcing up-coming meetings of some of the working groups, and suggesting a time plan for papers in progress. After all there is still a lot more science to do with CANDELS!

While the senior members of the team had their own executive council dinner, the Junior Scientists (i.e., students and postdocs) finished off the day with their own social event including wine and cheese.  This gave us a chance to get to know each other better and bring up any issues without senior members present. We also got some job-finding and application advice from some members of the team that just recently obtained permanent jobs and made the jump from a postdoctoral position to a faculty job. We could ask questions and got some real insights, and all of that while munching cheese, nibbling on some fruit and sipping wine!

Two happy principal investigators at the end of the meeting!
Harry Ferguson and Sandy Faber, Image credit: Dale Kocevski
Thursday and Friday were completely devoted to splinter sessions for different working groups. During the splinter sessions most time was spent on short talks and lots and lots of discussion on future projects. I attended the session for Structure and Morphology and led the session for the Education and Public Outreach working group. You already read a good summary of both of these last Friday. In parallel, the working groups for Star formation rates, AGN, UV science and spectroscopy met. Unfortunately, one cannot be in several places at the same time! Dale Kocevski will give you a summary of the AGN working group in a few days time. During the session for the newly formed star formation rate working group a lot of different star formation rate estimators were discussed. Since this working group is not very old yet, a lot of the session time was dedicated to discussion on possible projects and science that needs to be done. The UV working group discussed how to use the remaining observation time and planned the observation scheduling. They also addressed the data reduction for the UV data. In the high-redshift session team members presented their results on some of the most distant galaxies and how to decode their properties while during the spectroscopy session we got an overview over what spectral data is available in the CANDELS fields from other surveys. 

As another tradition, during the lunch break on Thursday, a team photo was taken. We already showed you the team photo from last year's meeting in Edinburgh, I won't tell you in which post, but can you find it? This year's photo is shown as the first photo above. This time, almost everyone looked into the camera smiling! That's quite hard to achieve with nearly 100 people.

Finally, the meeting was finished off with a few drinks after the last sessions before everybody got on their way back to their institutes to do all that amazing science that has been discussed and planned during the meeting. We are curious to hear about the results and to meet everyone again next year

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