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Follow Ups And other items…

October 17th, 2006

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It’s very gratifying to see an increasing number of people logging in to the Systemic Backend, and downloading the console. We’ve also been getting a lot of good feedback from users, which we’ll be incorporating into updated versions of the software.

Several people have noted that the backend is currently assigning chi-square values of zero to uploaded fits! We’re highly aware of this problem, and it likely stems from the fact that we may be exceeding our CPU allocation at our ISP. The back-end code integrates all submitted fits to verify the chi-square statistic for purposes of ranking. For submitted systems with long time baselines and short-period planets, these calculations can wind up being fairly expensive. We’ll let you know as soon as this issue gets resolved. In the meantime, it’s fine to submit fits, but if you get a good one, please save a copy in your own fits directory for the time being.

We’ve been getting a lot of entries for the Challenge 003 system. At the end of this week, I’ll tally up the results, so if you’ve got a fit to submit, go ahead and send ‘er in (using the e-mail address listed on the web-page given in the print version of the October Sky and Telescope). It’s fine to submit multiple fits — I’ll use your best one to determine the final ranking. The challenge 003 system represents an interesting dynamical configuration of a type not yet observed for planets in the wild, and so it’ll be very interesting to see what people pull out. Look for Challenge 004 to appear this weekend on the downloadable console, and shortly thereafter, warm up those processors for the advent of the 100 star Systemic Jr. release.

Yesterday’s post is generating an interesting and vigorous discussion thread. Jonathan Langton and I were hopeful yesterday that his benchmark Cassini-State 1 simulation might show an appropriately asymmetric light curve when viewed from lines of sight inclined to the planetary equator (as is the case for the Ups And observations). Frustratingly, however, when the model light curves are actually computed, they wind up drearily sinusoidal, and the phase offset is independant of viewing inclination:

We’re holding out hope, though, for Cassini-State 2. In that case, there are two angles to vary (the orientation of the pole in the orbital plane, and the viewing inclination) and so it may well be possible to dredge up a good fit to the data. After-the-fact parameter tweaking, however, is highly unsatisfactory! I’m looking very much forward to seeing more data sets like Ups And’s. In particular, HD 189733, should give a very nice full-phase curve, and further down the line HD 80606 should be even more interesting.

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  1. TheoA
    October 18th, 2006 at 21:35 | #1

    Greg,

    Just to let you know I had a CPU overload error report when I tried to access you site a couple of times at 3:00 pm CST oct,18th.

    It working now at 4:00 pm.

    Keep up the good work.

    Theo

  2. greg
    October 19th, 2006 at 05:32 | #2

    Hi Theo,

    Thanks for the information. Our user base has been increasing rapidly, and I think that we’re bumping up against our CPU quotas at Bluehost. I will contact them tomorrow to see about upgrading our package…

    best,
    Greg

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